PHILADELPHIA - Coming off a tough late-inning loss to Villanova, the University of Pennsylvania baseball team will try to get back on track as it begins Ivy League play this weekend against Brown and Yale. The Bears will head to Philadelphia first for a doubleheader on Saturday before Yale makes the trip to the City of Brotherly Love on Sunday for a twin bill. Both days are set for noon starts.
Penn led 3-1 going into the eighth inning against Villanova in the Liberty Bell Classic on Tuesday, but a three-run home run from Max Beerman in the eighth and another three-run shot from Todd Czinege in the ninth spoiled the Quakers chances of moving on to face St. Joseph's for an opportunity to play at Citizens Bank Park.
SCOUTING BROWN: The Bears head to Philadelphia well accustomed to playing on the road with only two home games under their belt. They sport a 6-10 record but winners for five of their last seven after losing eight games in a row following a season-opening win. Brown's offense has been impressive as of late, scoring 10 or more runs in three of its last seven games. However, one of those was a 12-11 loss at Holy Cross. Despite the recent uptick in runs and hits, the Bears are still sixth in the Ivy League in hitting with a .228 team average. On the mound, the Rhode Islanders are third in the conference in ERA at 4.72. They've been bitten by the long ball, allowing 15 home runs this season, good for second most in the Ancient Eight, trailing only Dartmouth, which has been roughed up for 20. Brown has been getting outs the democratic way in 2016, ranking seventh in strikeouts with 100.
LAST SEASON AGAINST BROWN: Finishing up Ivy League play against the Rolfe Division facing Brown Penn swept the Bears, winning 13-2 and 14-2 in a doubleheader. Penn totaled 27 runs in two games on the strength of eight home runs - five in game one and three in game two. Seniors Connor Betbeze and Jeff McGarry tallied one home run in each game, while junior Ryan Mincher hit two home runs in game one. Senior Austin Bossart hit a home run in game one and senior Mitch Montaldo hit a home run in game two for the Quakers.
SCOUTING YALE: A 4-15-1 start is not what the Bulldogs had in mind heading into Ivy League play, but thats the record they'll head to Columbia with on Saturday before they come to Meiklejohn on Sunday for two with the Quakers. Yale began the season without a win in its first 10 games, but was able to workout a tie against Navy to avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of the Midshipmen. Things got better for Connecticut dwelling Ivy Leaguers last week when they won three out of four games, but since then, they have lost three straight. The issues have mostly come on the mound with Yale ranking last in the Ivy League in ERA at 6.92. It's been free passes that have been the problem. The Bulldogs have put 91 batters on base via walks this season, good for last in the conference.
LAST SEASON AGAINST YALE: Playing its first Ivy League road games of the spring, Penn powered its way pastYale winning 8-1 and 17-5. With the two victories, Penn pushed its overall record past the .500 mark for the first time of the season. It was a breezy day at Yale Field, with a constant wind blowing out to left field, but the Quakers needed little help on offense. Swinging the bats well, Penn recorded 10 hits in the first game against the Bulldogs, and 20 hits in game two.
WHAT A WEEK: Following an impressive five games last week, Tim Graul was named Ivy League Player of the Week and Billy Lescher was named Big Five pitcher of the Week.
Graul went 7-for-20 with four doubles, a home run, and 10 RBIs and helped the Quakers to three wins. He started his week with a 3-for-5 performance at Lehigh where he doubled twice and had four RBIs and ended his week with a 2-for-4 game where he had another double and his first long ball of the season against Lafayette. The junior had three games in which he recorded multiple RBI's and vaulted himself into second in the Ancient Eight with 14. He leads the circuit in doubles with eight on the season.
In a week that saw him make his first two starts and take the Ivy League lead in wins, Lescher earned the Quakers second consecutive Pitcher of the Week honors. He pitched four scoreless innings against Lehigh in his first career start and followed it by striking out seven over five innings at Lafayette and allowing just one run. Lescher's three wins this season put him in a tie for most in the Ivy League with Nick Gruener of Harvard. Hitters are only batting .179 against the Virginian who sports a 3-0 record with a save.
LEADING THE WAY: The Quakers have plenty of names at the top of the Ivy League ranks. Senior Gary Tesch currently leads the league in hitting at a .381 clip, junior Tim Graul is second in RBIs with 14 and leads in doubles with eight, and Matt Greskoff is one off the pace in home runs with three.