PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania baseball team (20-12, 6-4 Ivy) couldn’t get much going in Saturday’s opener against last season’s Ivy League Pitcher of the Year, Zak Hermans. Hermans struck out 12 for Princeton (9-21, 6-4 Ivy) in just seven innings, helping keep the Quakers in check in a 7-2 win. The Red and Blue picked themselves back up off the mat quickly though, hitting Kevin Link hard and scoring six runs against the Tigers’ game two starter in 2+ innings, putting enough on the board to hold off a Princeton rally in the ninth inning that saw the go-ahead run reach scoring position. Ronnie Glenn battled through some anxious moments but earned his eighth save on the year in Penn’s 8-7 win.
The two teams conclude their series tomorrow, returning to Meiklejohn Stadium for a 12 p.m. start. Tomorrow is Youth Day at the ballpark, with the Phillie Phanatic making an appearance from 12-1, and free soda and hot dogs for all little leaguers in attendance.
Game One – Princeton 7, Penn 2
Princeton pounced on Penn starter Connor Cuff immediately to open the top of the first inning. Alec Keller smacked a lead-off double as part of a 4-for-4 game at the plate and Danny Hoy worked a walk behind him. With two on and no one out, Mike Ford blasted a three-run shot into right-center to give the Tigers a working margin of 3-0 before Hermans even set foot on the mound.
Princeton upped its lead in the top of the second, an unfortunate turn of events for the Quakers, who should have escaped the inning with relatively little damage. Keller was able to just loft a single over Mike Vilardo at second base for a RBI that made it 4-0, but the worst came when Hoy skied a ball into left field that Connor Betbeze lost in the air. By the time in landed in shallow left, Hoy was on second and Keller had raced around to make it a 5-0 ballgame.
Penn tried to rally, scoring one run in the home halves of the second and third inning. Spencer Branigan led off the bottom of the second with a deep double to right. He later scored on a sacrifice fly from Ryan Mincher to make it 5-1. Rick Brebner unleashed a solo home run in the third inning to get the Quakers as close as they would get in the first game, 5-2.
Frustration for Penn boiled over in the fifth inning as Cuff was called for a balk with runners on the corners, allowing another Princeton run to score. Cuff’s fake to third and throw back to first had caught Alex Flink well off the bag, but the pick-off was nullified and the Tiger lead expanded to 6-2 as the both the crowd and the Penn dugout erupted in disagreement. Princeton tacked on one last bit of insurance in the seventh with a sac fly to make it a 7-2 ballgame.
Brebner led the offense for the Red and Blue with a 2-for-2 game at the plate along with a walk. Cuff fell to 4-3 on the year with the loss while Hermans improved to 3-2.
Game Two – Penn 8, Princeton 7
Shackled by Hermans in game one, Penn found the going much easier against Link, scoring in each of the first three innings against the Princeton starter and establishing a comfortable lead early. Brandon Engelhardt led the game off with a single, stole second and scored on a RBI single from Ryan Deitrich to make it a 1-0 game in the bottom of the first.
After Princeton came back to take a 2-1 lead in the second inning, the Quakers responded with two more in the bottom of the second. Ryan Mincher doubled Austin Bossart home to tie the game up, then Mitch Montaldo brought Mincher in from third with a groundout to make it a 3-2 contest.
The Tigers roared back once more in the top of the third to tie the game off Penn starter Jeff McGarry, but the Quakers wouldn’t be denied in a critical showdown between the two Gehrig Division rivals. Mike Vilardo led off the bottom of the third with a walk, then scored immediately as Deitrich doubled down the left field line. Brebner followed Deitrich with a double deep into center field for another RBI, then advanced to third as reliever Luke Strieber walked Branigan and uncorked a wild pitch that went to the backstop on ball four. A Mincher single plated Brebner to put Penn up, 6-3.
McGarry quickly sat down the Tigers in the fourth and fifth innings to solidify the lead. In the bottom half of the fifth, Bossart lifted a solo shot out and over the fence in left-center for his second home run in the past four days – his first came on an inside-the-park homer at La Salle for his first home run in the Red and Blue.
Steve Harrington drew Princeton a little closer with a solo home run of his own in the top of the sixth, but McGarry teamed with Stephen Silvestri and John Beasley to get out of the sixth with a 7-4 lead. Three Tiger errors in the bottom of the sixth helped put Penn back up by four. Engelhardt reached on a one-out error by Flink, advanced to second on a throwing error by pitcher Michael Fagan, then scored on a stolen base and throwing error from catcher Tyler Servais to make it 8-4.
Penn was still up by three, 8-5, to open the ninth inning. With Glenn in search of his Ivy League-leading eighth save, the sophomore worked his way into some trouble. A soft liner from lead-off man Nate Baird found a hole in the Penn defense, and Glenn then walked Keller to put two on with no outs. Hoy followed with a double to bring Baird around and put the tying run in scoring position. Things got worse before they got better as Glenn then hit Ford with a pitch to load the bases for Harrington, coming off his first home run of the year earlier in the contest.
Just as Penn’s chances started to look bleak, Glenn found his mojo and mowed down the Tigers to end it. Harrington struck out looking for the first out of the inning. Flink followed with a weak tapper down the third base line that Glenn raced to field. Picking the ball up cleanly, he wheeled and fired, earning the second out on a bang-bang call that brought cries of protest from the Princeton dugout to no avail. Though a run scored to make it 8-7, Glenn calmly took care of pinch-hitter Jonathan York, striking him out swinging to give the Quakers the vital victory.
McGarry scattered seven hits and four runs across 5.1 innings to earn the win and improve to 4-2. Princeton’s bullpen did a solid job of keeping its team in the game, but the six runs charged to Link drop him to 1-3 on the year. Engelhardt was 2-for-5 in the lead-off spot, picking up his 100th career hit in the fourth inning. Deitrich, Brebner and Bossart added two hits apiece, while Mincher collected a team-high three hits and knocked in two runs.
Download: Game One.pdf