Winter Haven, Fla. – A change of scenery on the first day of the Russ Matt Tournament did wonders for the Penn offense on Tuesday afternoon at Chain of Lakes Park in Winter Haven, Fla. The Quakers pounded out 17 hits and scored in seven of nine innings on their way to a 13-2 win over the Bowling Green Falcons. Dan Gautieri hurled seven innings of two-hit ball to earn his first career win, powering the Red and Blue to their first victory of the 2012 campaign.
The Quakers started strong out of the gate, scoring single runs in both the 1st and 2nd innings. Brandon Engelhardt led off the first with a double to the gap in left-center and the first of many Bowling Green errors allowed him to move to third off the bat of Kyle Toomey. Greg Zebrack plated his first of two RBI's with a sacrifice fly to center field, making it 1-0, Penn.
The Quakers played small-ball to scratch across another run in the second inning of play. Rick Brebner led off with a walk and stole second. A slow roller to the shortstop from Austin Bossart allowed Brebner to move up 90 feet and Derek Vigoa laid a perfect bunt down the first-base line to bring Brebner in for a 2-0 lead.
Defense was also on display from Penn early on. Playing behind a pitcher making his first career start, the infield helped Gautieri out in the first, turning a 5-4-5-4-3 double play to end the inning. The Bowling Green runner strayed too far off second on a ground ball to third baseman Mitch Montaldo who tossed to Vigoa at second to hang the BG runner out to dry. The pair went back and forth a second time to apply the tag, then Vigoa flipped to Brebner who chased down the batter attempting to reach second amidst the confusion.
Gautieri buckled down after the 1st, only allowing one BG baserunner - a hit batsman on a curveball that didn't take the break - until two were out in the 4th inning. A nice diving stop from Brebner at first base who went unassisted to the bag erased any danger from that situation.
By that time, Penn had added two more onto its lead and given the hook to BG starter, Mark Malewitz. With two outs and runners on 2nd and 3rd in the top half of the 4th inning, Montaldo delivered his first hit of the season bringing Ryan Deitrich and Brebner around to score.
The barrage of hits continued into the fifth when the first five Quaker batters reached on singles. The only thing stopping Penn from doing more damage than the one run they scored in the inning was when Zebrack, the first in the inning to reach, was caught stealing second.
Gautieri had a brief spell of wildness in the fifth inning that, combined with Penn's second and final error of the afternoon, helped BG break into the scoring column at 5-1. If there were any lingering doubts about the game's outcome, however, most were erased shortly thereafter. The Red and Blue padded its lead to 8-1 with a single run in the 6th off a Zebrack RBI single and two more from a Vigoa double down the left field line in the 7th.
Gautieri sat down six of the final seven Falcons he faced and gave way to the bullpen in the eighth inning. Mike Zuppe and Cody Thomson worked the final two frames, allowing just a ninth-inning run from the Falcons while Penn taxed the BG relievers to the tune of five runs in the top half of the ninth to reach the game's final margin.
Brebner's 4-for-5 performance at the dish led the Penn offense while Engelhardt was 3-for-5. Each scored three runs as well.
Penn will meet up with Northeastern on Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m., looking to move closer to .500 with its second straight win.
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