Baseball Splits a Pair Against Princeton

Princeton, N.J. - The Penn baseball team earned a split on Sunday at Princeton's Clarke Field to avoid a weekend sweep at the hands of the Tigers. After five scoreless inning in the opening game of the doubleheader, both clubs ratcheted up the offense with the Quakers hanging on for the extra-innings victory. Penn jumped ahead to an early lead in the second game of the day but Princeton put eight runs on the board in the bottom of the first and was able to hold on from there, winning the final game of the series, 13-7. The Quakers (15-16, 6-6 Ivy) play Tuesday in the championship game of the Liberty Bell Classic against St. Joseph's before hosting four games next weekend against Gehrig Division leader Cornell on Saturday and Sunday.

Game One - Penn 7, Princeton 5 (9 innings)
Box Score
Pressed into a must-win situation following two losses on Saturday, Penn turned to its ace, Vince Voiro, in Sunday's opener to right the ship. With both Voiro and Princeton starter Matt Bowman locked in a scoreless pitcher's duel for five innings, the game suddenly turned on its head in the sixth inning and led to an exciting, extra-inning finish.

The teams combined for just three runners in scoring position through five innings with Princeton having the best opportunity to get a run on the board in the bottom of the third inning when Blake Thomsen hit a lead-off double to right field. After a sacrifice bunt got Thomsen to third with one down, Voiro put a man on first with his only walk of the afternoon to set up the double play chance. The plan worked perfectly when Alec Keller grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the side.

Penn showed no signs of breaking through in the top of the sixth as both Kyle Toomey and Greg Zebrack were retired on routine grounders to start the inning, but a walk to James Mraz suddenly opened the door a crack and Spencer Branigan kept things alive with a single into right. RBI singles into right field from Ryan Deitrich and Derek Vigoa followed and gave the Quakers a 2-0 lead and left two on for Austin Bossart, who cleared the bases with a triple into the gap in right-center, making it 4-0.

With their backs to the wall, the Tigers stormed back in the bottom of the sixth. Voiro got the lead-off hitter on a grounder to Branigan at first and struck out the second batter of the inning, but the ball got past Bossart on strike three, allowing Keller to reach. Princeton would go on to load the bases, leading to a two-RBI single, cutting Penn's lead in half at 4-2. The next man up, Steve Harrington, tripled to left-center and scored on an error, completing Princeton's comeback and staking them to a 5-4 lead, suddenly just three outs away from victory.

The Quakers wouldn't go down quietly, however. Brandon Engelhardt led off the top of the seventh with a triple, and came around one batter later as Zebrack doubled him in, tying the game at 5-5 and sending Voiro back out to the hill.

Two of the first three Princeton hitters reached on singles in the bottom of the seventh, putting the game into a precarious situation once again for the Red and Blue. A one-out fly ball to center field moved the winning run even closer as Bowman was able to tag and reach third, but a liner to Deitrich in right ended the inning and sent the game into extras.

Neither team could push a run across in the eighth but Toomey led off the ninth with a base on balls and moved around to third off a wild pitch and deep fly out from Zebrack into right field. With two down and two on, Deitrich stung a ball to third base that Andrew Whitener couldn't handle, bringing Toomey in for the 6-5 edge. Vigoa followed that up with a base knock to left, plating Branigan to give the Quakers a two-run cushion headed to the bottom of the ninth.

Voiro gave way to the bullpen in the ninth but Dan Gautieri allowed a single and a walk before retiring Alex Flink on a fly ball to Zebrack in center. With Keller stepping into the box, John Cole made another move, bringing Ronnie Glenn on to take advantage of the lefty/lefty match-up. Despite Glenn's struggles yesterday, the freshman rewarded Cole's faith with a fielder's choice grounder for the second out and a game-ending strikeout of John Mishu, earning his first career save in the process. Voiro improved to 5-2 on the season with the win.

Game Two - Princeton 13, Penn 7
Box Score
Consecutive doubles from Engelhardt and Zebrack to begin the first vaulted Penn to a 1-0 lead, but Princeton jumped all over Quakers' starter Sam Horn, tagging the freshman for six hits and seven runs in the bottom of the first inning and forcing the Red and Blue to the bullpen immediately. Mike Zuppe came on in relief of Horn and gave up a grand slam that capped an eight-run first for the Tigers before the side could be retired.

The Princeton lead would grow to 9-1 after the second inning before the Quakers began to work their way back into it. Zebrack, Branigan and Deitrich loaded the bases with three straight singles in the third inning and Vigoa knocked in Zebrack with a grounder to short, moving everyone up a station and making it 9-2. With two down in the inning, Mraz doubled into left field to bring in two more, cutting into Princeton's lead once again at 9-4. Mitch Montaldo followed Mraz with a RBI double of his own, making the margin a much more manageable 9-5 after three.

The Quaker bats fell silent through the middle innings and Princeton was able to tack on a single run in the fourth and two more in the seventh to hold a 12-5 lead entering the eighth. The Red and Blue made one last push in the eighth inning, scoring twice off a pair of Princeton infield errors to make it a 12-7 Princeton edge, but the Tigers turned two to end the threat before adding one last insurance run in the bottom of the eighth.

Penn matched Princeton in the hits department in the game, led by Zebrack's 4-for-5 performance at the plate. Deitrich went 3-for-4 with a walk while Branigan and Mraz each drove in two. Horn fell to 1-3 on the year with the loss.

Download: Penn-Princeton Box 1.pdf