Baseball Rides Strong Pitching to Sweep of Harvard

Cambridge, Mass. – The Penn baseball team got back to its winning ways on Sunday at Harvard, battling through some tough elements to sweep the Crimson by scores of 7-0 and 8-5. Cody Thomson threw a complete-game shutout in the opener to improve to 2-1 while Matt Gotschall scattered four hits over three innings to pick up the victory in the second game, moving to 3-2. Rick Brebner had four hits and five runs in the two games to lead the Penn attack.

Game One – Penn 7, Harvard 0
Box Score
Though the conditions seemed to dictate a low-scoring affair, Penn came out in attack mode, putting three runners on through three innings before finally breaking through against Harvard starter Brent Suter in the fourth. While the Quakers were able to get men on in the early going, it was Thomson who shouldered the load for the Red and Blue to keep the game scoreless through three, retiring the side with men in scoring position in each frame.

In the fourth inning, Ryan Deitrich lined a hard-hit ball to right-center, past a diving Jack Colton to the wall for a stand-up triple. With one away, Spencer Branigan forced a diving stop from Jeff Reynolds at second base, who had no option but to throw to first for the out, driving Deitrich in for a 1-0 lead.

The bottom of the Quaker order set the table in the fifth inning as Austin Bossart and Mitch Montaldo reached base and moved into scoring position with a sac bunt from Kyle Toomey. After Greg Zebrack walked to load the bases with two down, Brebner collected his first hit of the afternoon on a ground ball through the left side for a 2-0 lead. Deitrich followed with a two RBI single to right field and Branigan doubled to plate two more, putting Penn comfortably in command with a 6-0 edge.

Thomson ensured that lead would hold up, setting the side down in order in the bottom of the fifth and allowing just a one-out walk in the sixth. Brebner added onto the Penn lead in the top of the seventh with a two-out single, followed by a stolen base that moved him to third on a throwing error from the catcher. Moments later, Harvard relief pitcher Baron Davis threw a wild pitch that scored Brebner unearned for the 7-0 final.

Game Two – Penn 8, Harvard 5
Box Score
Though Harvard offered up some initial resistance in Sunday's second game, the Crimson couldn't keep up with five runs from Penn in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings as the Quakers completed their mission, breaking even on the weekend after two disappointing losses on Saturday.

Brebner continued his hot streak with a lead-off double in the second inning and advanced to third after Derek Vigoa reached on a bunt single. With the two runners on the corners, Bossart drove in Brebner with the first of an incredible seven errors from Harvard in the contest, as Crimson pitcher Connor Hulse simply dropped what should have been a fairly routine throw from the first baseman. Brandon Engelhardt compounded the error, driving in Vigoa with two outs to make it a 2-0 lead for Penn.

John Beasley found himself in some trouble in the second inning with a run in and the bases loaded with one out, but Brebner lassoed a sharp ground ball down the third base line, quickly tagged the bag for a force out and threw across to Branigan for the 5-3 double play to end the inning with Penn still out in front at 2-1.

When the first two Crimson hitters of the third inning reached base as well, John Cole went to his bullpen for the first time on the day, bringing in Matt Gotschall. A bunt single from the first hitter Gotschall faced loaded them up, and a pair of sacrifice flies gave Harvard its first lead of the day at 3-2 before Penn's sophomore lefty could get out of the inning with a strikeout of Ethan Ferreira.

Nothing seemed to be going on for Penn in the fourth inning until Toomey drew a two-out walk. From there, the Quakers put the ball in play and let Harvard do the heavy lifting for them. Engelhardt was the first to prosper from Harvard's generosity as he reached on an error by first baseman Marcus Way. Way then committed a second error with a toss to the unsuspecting Hulse, moving Toomey up an extra 90 feet. Zebrack walked to load the bases and Branigan delivered a single into left field, scoring two on his own before a third Harvard error in the inning allowed Zebrack to come around from first to make it 5-3.

Brebner opened yet another scoring opportunity for the Quakers in the fifth with a lead-off single. After advancing to second on a soft groundout, Bossart knocked him home with a single through the right side of the infield to stretch the lead to 6-3. Zebrack would add another tally in the sixth with a solo blast cutting through the wind and out in left field, his second homer in as many days.

Gotschall and Ronnie Glenn quieted Harvard from the fourth through the eighth innings, keeping Penn up by four until Matt McKinnon came on as a pinch-hitter in the ninth and gave the Quakers a bit of extra insurance with a sacrifice fly, scoring Brebner once more for an 8-3 lead. Harvard would manage two in the bottom half of the inning but it was too little, too late.

Penn (14-12, 5-3 Ivy) will have a quick break from conference action when they host La Salle on Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Meiklejohn Stadium. The Quakers jump back into the fray with a four-game series at Princeton next Saturday and Sunday.

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