PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania baseball team battled back against Harvard on Sunday afternoon just in time to force a tie as rain moved over Meiklejohn Stadium. Back in action on Monday afternoon, the Quakers couldn’t complete the comeback, giving up three ninth inning runs and falling, 6-3. Despite the loss, it was a solid weekend for the Red and Blue, who move to 16-8 (3-1 Ivy).
First inning struggles for Penn starter Pat Bet allowed Harvard to climb on top with three runs in the top of the first inning. The Crimson started off with a Mike Martin single and loaded the bases with consecutive walks with none away. Two more singles gave them the 3-0 lead before a sacrifice bunt finally allowed the Quakers to record their first out of the inning. Bet avoided any further damage with a pop out into foul territory and a strikeout to end the inning.
The junior settled in after that and retired eight straight Crimson batters at one point. It took a while, but Penn finally unlocked Harvard starter Sean Poppen in the bottom of the fifth inning, tagging last week’s Ivy League Co-Rookie of the Week for three runs to knot the score. Gary Tesch began the rally with a triple deep into the right field corner, and he scored on a RBI single from Connor Betbeze. Mike Vilardo followed with a third consecutive Penn hit, and Ryan Deitrich moved both men into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt that surprised the Crimson defense. With one away, Spencer Branigan doubled into left to bring them both home. The inning continued with Rick Brebner collecting a two-out single, but Branigan was thrown out at home attempting to give Penn its first lead of the day.
Rain began to fall as the sixth inning began. John Beasley relieved Bet to open the frame and threw two innings of scoreless baseball. Unfortunately, Poppen regained his command in the sixth and seventh innings, allowing only a single to Betbeze – part of a 5-for-5 day at the plate for the Quaker sophomore. With the intensity of the rain picking up, the umpires had no choice but to call for the tarp to be pulled at the end of the seventh inning, a delay that eventually resulted in a postponement until Monday afternoon.
After a scoreless eighth inning for either side, Harvard tagged reliever Mitch Montaldo for three runs in the ninth inning on only two hits. The Crimson also reached base off a walk and two hit by pitches. Penn brought the tying run to the plate with two down in the bottom of the ninth but couldn’t bring anyone around to score, ending the game nearly 24 hours after it began.
The Red and Blue will look to shake today off and find the win column again tomorrow, hosting Villanova (6-19) in the semifinals of the Liberty Bell Classic. A win over the Wildcats would put the Quakers back into the Liberty Bell Classic championship game at Citizens Bank Park for the second straight year. First pitch from Meiklejohn Stadium is set for 3 p.m.
Download: Penn-Harvard Game Two.pdf