PHILADELPHIA - After a 3-5 swing through Florida, the Penn baseball team returns home to Meiklejohn Stadium to play its home opener on Wednesday afternoon against the Temple Owls. First pitch is set for 3 p.m.
Last Time Out
The Quakers were handed a tall task this past weekend, trying to follow a late-night, 7-3 win over Fairfield on Saturday with an early-morning game against North Dakota State on Sunday. The Bison jumped on a fatigued Penn team early and didn't take their foot off the gas pedal until they led 15-0. The Quakers scored three times in the ninth to make the final score 15-3.
Offense: Players to look out for in today's game include Ryan Deitrich, who leads the Quakers with a .393 batting average and has hit safely in seven of the Quakers' eight games.Greg Zebrack is also lighting it up with his bat and his cleats, owning Penn's only home run of the season so far as well as a pair of doubles, and leading the Quakers in RBIs, runs scored and steals. Rick Brebner paces the Red and Blue with a .471 OBP.
Pitching and Defense: Freshman Connor Cuff will start for the Quakers on Wednesday. The Chicago-area native will be making his third career start and appearance for Penn and brings a 0-1 record and 4.91 ERA into the contest. Cuff has thrown a combined 11.0 innings in his two prior starts and has struck out 13 batters, landing in the nation's top 70 for strikeouts per nine innings. Defensively, the Quakers had their struggles in Florida. After spending much of the preseason inside Dunning-Cohen Champions Field, Penn seemed to struggle in the often windy conditions and committed 25 errors, many coming on throws. The Quakers will try to clean up their act back inside the friendly confines of "The Meik."
Scouting the Owls
Temple comes into Wednesday's game on the heels of a 9-7 loss to La Salle on Tuesday afternoon, dropping its overall record to 5-10.
Offense: Steve Nikorak entered Tuesday leading Temple with a .346 batting average. The senior infielder leads six Owls who bat over .300 and has collected six doubles and a pair of triples on the season. Jordan Queja will likely bat lead-off and has five stolen bases while Elijah Yarborough has made the most of his opportunities, leading the team with 13 runs batted in.
Pitching and Defense: Ryan Kuehn will get the nod for Temple. A 6-5 redshirt freshman, Kuehn has made five appearances in relief for the Owls and sports a 0-1 record along with an ERA of 9.82. In 7.1 innings of work, Kuehn has struck out two, walked four and given up 17 hits for a WHIP approaching 3.00. As good as Nikorak and Yarborough have been at the plate, they've been somewhat less than stellar defensively, committing five and seven errors apiece.
Following the Action
Live stats for Wednesday's tilt can be viewed here, and be sure to follow @pennbaseball for in-game updates and pictures from around the diamond. The Penn Sports Network will offer audio of today's game here.
The Quakers have swiped 15 bases through eight games, an average of 1.88 per outing and tied for 26th in the nation. Zebrack leads the team with four stolen bases while Kyle Toomey has gone a perfect 3-3 on his attempts. The 1930 Penn squad set the all-time school mark with 76, a mark that this year's team is roughly on pace to match. Doug Glanville holds the individual school record with 25 in 1989.
Sacrificing for the Good of the Team
Toomey is also playing an important role in a stat often overlooked in the final box score. Through eight games, the sophomore shortstop has laid down four sacrifice bunts - an average of 0.5 per game - to rank third in the nation in the category. Coincidentally, one of Penn's early-season opponents in Florida, Western Michigan, has the national leader in Zach Thoma with 0.64 per game.
Passing a Legend
With a base-hit on Sunday against North Dakota State, Derek Vigoa collected the 153rd hit in his Quaker career, breaking a tie with Doug Glanville and passing the former MLB star for 11th all-time on the Penn career hits list.
Though spring seems to have sprung early this year, the Red and Blue will make another trip south over the weekend in hopes of avoiding any residual cold temperatures. Penn opens a three-game set with Charleston Southern on Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 12 p.m. and continuing at 3 p.m. The Quakers will play the Buccaneers in one final game on Sunday at 12 p.m. before coming home to Philadelphia.