Baseball Loses Game One; Game Two Suspended

Yale 5, Penn 1 (9 Innings)

Penn 9, Yale 9 (Play Suspended in 11th Inning - Darkness)

PHILADELPHIA – After losing game one of a scheduled doubleheader with Yale on Saturday, Penn twice rallied from late-game deficits to extend game two before the game was suspended due to darkness with the game tied, 9-9, after 11 innings.

In game two, Penn scored six runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the game at 7-7 and send it to extra innings. After Yale’s junior standout Ryan Lavarnway gave the Bulldogs the lead again in the top of the 11th with a two-run homer – his second long ball of the day – the Quakers stormed back in the bottom of the inning on the strength of a single by Tom Grandieri that scored Jeff Cellucci and Michael Gatti. Penn had a chance to win, but Steve Gable ground out to the pitcher to strand Grandieri at second base.

After the inning, the umpires and coaches conferred and it was determined that there was insufficient light for the 12th inning to begin. The game is officially listed as suspended and no completion date has been announced at this time. It is likely that the game will only be finished if it carries implications in regards to the Ivy League Championship Series.

Game two started out as a pitchers duel between Paul Cusick and Alex Christ. Both hurlers threw six innings. Cusick allowed only five hits and no runs over his six innings while striking out 11 Bulldog hitters. He was able to work out of jams in the first three innings – three times striking out two hitters with multiple runners on base. His most impressive inning was the second. After retiring the first batter, he allowed a single and then two walks to load the bases. He fought back to strike out the next two batters – leaving Lavarnway in the on-deck circle.

Penn got on the board first in the fifth inning with some two-out magic. Jeff Cellucci doubled down the left field line and Gatti followed with a single to drive in the first run of the game. The RBI was the first of the season for Gatti.

That was all the scoring in the game until the top of the eighth when Yale unloaded for seven runs.

With Andy Console on the mound, Josh Cox singled to left field and then stole second. On the steal, Cox injured his ankle and had to be pinch ran for by Andrew Kolmar. Console then walked P.J. Gorynski to bring up Lavarnway.

Head coach John Cole went to the bullpen, actually he went to third base and brought in William Gordon to face Lavarnway. Gordon left a fastball over the plate and Lavarnway, the 2007 NCAA leader in slugging percentage, capitalized. He launched a three-run homer to right-center to give the Bulldogs the lead. After Stefan Schropp doubled, Cole brought Grandieri in from right field to pitch. Grandieri gave up a single and a double to score Schropp.

At that time, Cole made another pitching change, bringing Gordon back in from third base and sending Grandieri back to right. All the while, Matt Toffaletti moved from right field to third base and then to right field and then back to third base.

Gordon struck out Davis Stanley for the second out of the inning before allowing a single to Andy Megee that scored two runs. A pair of walks and then a single from Gorynski scored the seventh run of the inning. With the bases loaded, Gordon was able to induce a sky-high popup from Lavarnway to end the inning.

After coming up empty in their half of the eighth inning, the Quakers had one last chance in the ninth.

Cellucci started the inning with an infield single off the pitcher and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Gatti followed with an infield single of his own to short. Grandieri had the first hit out of the infield of the inning – a single to left to load the bases. Steve Gable was hit by a Chris Walsh pitch to score Cellucci. John Henry Davis came in to relieve Walsh and promptly gave up a single to Kyle Armeny that scored Gatti. Gordon drew a walk to add the third run of the inning, bring Penn within three. Will Davis pinch hit for the pitcher’s spot and drove in Gable with a sacrifice fly to left. Dan Williams scored Gordon with a single. Cellucci, who started the inning with an infield hit then tied the game with his second of the inning, beating out a throw from shortstop and allowing Matt Toffaletti to score.

Neither team was able to score in the tenth, despite having runners on. Penn had a runner in scoring position with one out, but a popout from Gordon and a strike out from Reid Terry ended the threat.

In the 11th, Yale again took the lead – again thanks to Lavarnway. With Gorynski on first, he turned on an inside pitch from Terry and drove it to deep left for his second home run of the game.

Facing an uphill climb for the second time in the game, Penn once more found some two-out lightning to tie the game. After Williams ground into a double play, Cellucci reached base for the fifth time in the game when he was hit by a Matthew Smith pitch. Gatti then recorded his third hit of the game with a single back up the middle. Grandieri, the top of Penn’s order, followed with his third hit of the game – a single to right field that just eluded Kolmar and scored Cellucci. Kolmar gathered the ball, but his relay throw back to the infield sailed over everyone’s head and ended up near Yale’s dugout. Gatti, alert on the basepaths, scampered home to tie the game and Grandieri advanced to second. Gable’s almost beat out a slow dribbler to the right side of the infield, but Smith was able to tag him out to end the inning – and the game for now.

The feeling of rallying twice late in game two may help ease the pain of the loss in game one. After scoring in the fifth inning to tie the game and send it to extra innings, Penn watched as Yale scored four times in the ninth inning for a 5-1 win.

Gorynski doubled to start the inning and Lavarnway was intentionally walked. Terry was able to get Kolmar to line out to left for the first out and then Chris Sweeney lined out to Gable at second base. Gable thought he had a chance to double up Lavarnway at first and end the inning, but his spinning throw sailed high and right into Yale’s dugout – a two-base error that scored Gorynski. Back-to-back doubles scored Lavarnway and Schropp. Dan Soltman scored the final run when he took third on a wild pitch and then scored on a passed ball. Penn had two runners on in the ninth, but Armeny struck out looking to end the game.

While the stats may not be official yet for game two, several players had good days that may go a long way to breaking them out of slumps.

Cellucci entered game two batting .056. After going 3-for-4 with three runs as well as a walk and a hit-by-pitch, his average jumped almost 130 points to .182. While it isn’t where he wants to be, Cellucci hopes that his success today keeps everything moving in the right direction.

“I have been working hard in the cage and during batting practice to make better swings,” the junior catcher said. “Hopefully this is just the beginning and things will carry over to tomorrow against Brown.”

Another player at the bottom of the order who had an impressive day was Gatti. The senior outfielder had four hits over the course of the twin-bill and scored two runs. He is now batting .321 on the season. He also played stellar defense in center field, making three diving plays in game one alone.

“I was able to see the ball well off the bat today and make good jumps,” he said. “Then, I was able to carry that feeling into my at-bats as well and was able to follow the catches up with productive plate appearances.”

Cole was impressed with the performances of his two freshmen starters, Jeremy Maas in game one and Cusick in the second game.

“Our young pitchers are adjusting well,” he said. “Paul has found good command of his breaking ball and off-speed stuff. They both competed very well under pressure today.”

Still, Cole sees room for improvement for his squad.

“We only had two runs after 17 innings of baseball heading into the ninth inning of game two,” he said. “We had some trouble creating offense most of the day. We applied some pressure late and had the results to show for it. We didn’t give up.”

Penn is back on the field Sunday for a pair of games with Brown starting at noon at Meiklejohn Stadium.