PHILADELPHIA - The Penn baseball team seeks to improve on last year's Ivy mark as they return virtually their entire squad for the 2010 season.
The Quakers lost just one regular from a season ago in catcher Jeff Cellucci, returning eight of their nine defensive starters, including four All-Ivy selections. The Red and Blue also hope to get a boost from a pitching staff which returns ten hurlers but was ravaged by injury in 2009. For these reasons Penn is predicted to finish second in the Lou Gehrig Division, behind Cornell, in Yahoo Sports' Ivy League Preview. The Quakers finished fourth in the division a season ago with a 5-15 league mark.
Seniors and All-Ivy selections William Gordon and Tom Grandieri, lead the conference's most explosive offense from a season ago. Penn hit a league leading .310 in 2009 and set the Ivy standard with 104 doubles and a .397 on-base percentage. The team also finished second in runs per game (7.27), hits (439), home runs (39) and slugging percentage (.477).
Gordon played at first base, led the league with 48 RBI and finished third with 10 home runs while hitting .327. Grandieri, meanwhile, hit a team-high .357 with 56 hits and also banged out a league-high 19 doubles in addition to scoring 42 runs. The senior outfielder was also named by Yahoo Sports as the Ivy's top hitter.
The Quakers' two other All-Ivy selections manned the left side of the infield, in junior third basemen Dan Williams and sophomore shortstop Derek Vigoa. Williams hit .337 with 56 hits and added 42 RBI, good for fifth in the league. Vigoa was named the Big 5 Rookie of the Year and hit .336 with 51 hits and 18 doubles.
Senior Steve Gable returns to fill out the rest of the infield at second, while sophomore James Mraz and junior Adrian Lorenzo are expected to see significant time in the outfield alongside Grandieri. Junior Jeremy Maas will also see time in the field or at the DH spot after finishing with a .356 batting average, 47 hits, 14 doubles and 27 RBI.
The Red and Blue seek to get better support on the mound than they did a season ago when Penn finished fifth in the Ivy League with a 6.74 ERA. The Quakers have five players expected to battle for a spot in the rotation, as well as group of players expected to step in as relievers.
Senior Todd Roth seeks to return to the form which earned him ten wins in his first two seasons after recording just two with a 7.26 ERA in 2009. Maas, meanwhile, comes to the mound after not pitching in 2009 due to Tommy John surgery. Junior Paul Cusick and sophomores Chris McNulty and Vince Voiro will also compete for time as a starter.
Cusick had a team-high four victories last season and was second on the team with 43 strikeouts in 42 innings of work. A southpaw, McNulty won two of his final four starts and finished the year with 28 strikeouts, while Voiro won two games in 2009, striking out 24 in 38.1 innings.
Trey Jennings and Mike Zuppe had the lowest ERA of any relievers last season. Jennings appeared in 10.0 innings over four games and registered a 2.70 ERA, while Zuppe didn't allow a run in 2.1 innings of work. Seniors Robbie Seymour and Reid Terry also will come in relief this year.
Penn opens its season in Florida when the team takes part in the Rollins College baseball week. The Quakers open with a game against Georgetown on March 6 at 6 p.m.