Baseball Splits With Columbia in Season Finale

Penn 6 - Columbia 5

Columbia 11 - Penn 10

PHILADELPHIA - The Quakers nearly made it two walk-off wins on Saturday, but instead had to settle for one, as they got a walk-off homer to win 6-5 in the opener against Columbia before falling 11-10 in the nightcap at Meiklejohn Stadium.

Spencer Branigan provided the late game heroics in the first contest as he blasted a two-out pitch over the leftfield fence for a two-run homer and a 6-5 Penn victory. Freshman Alex Ott got his first career victory in the game after pitching a scoreless seventh inning.

The second contest was a back-and-forth affair as both teams hit the ball well. Penn grabbed the early 6-0 lead but Columbia came back to tie and eventually get ahead 11-9 in the seventh. The Red and Blue got one run in the bottom of the seventh and put runners on in the eighth and ninth but couldn't score as they dropped the game 11-10.

Senior Mike Mariano started the second game and made the most of his final contest as a Quaker, smacking a pair of doubles and belting a home run, finishing 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs. Sophomore Greg Zebrack also added three hits in the second game and finished the day 4-for-10. In addition to his homer in the first game, Branigan went 2-for-4 in the nightcap.

Columbia started the scoring in the opening contest with two runs in the top of the second. Trailing 2-0, Penn responded in the bottom of the frame with three runs of its own. Brandon Engelhardt ripped a one-out triple to center, scoring Vigoa from first. He eventually came home on a single by Rick Brebner, and after a passed ball, Brebner crossed home on a single to right by Adrian Lorenzo.

The Lions took back the lead in the third with three runs on a home run by Alex Ferrera, his second of the game. The Red and Blue got a run back in the bottom of the frame as Will Davis launched his 25th career home run onto the highway in right.

Starter John Beasley and Ott kept the Columbia Lions silent over the next four innings and Penn finally took advantage in the seventh. Down to their final out, Williams started the rally with a single to left, bringing up Branigan. Branigan needed just three pitches the crank his seventh home run of the season and second game-winning hit of his career.

The second game was an offensive slugfest as the two teams combined for 23 runs and 29 hits. Penn was the first to get on the board, scoring five times in the bottom of the inning. Zebrack and Williams singled to lead off the inning and Branigan doubled home a run to make it 2-0. The Quakers added two more hits and three more runs as nine men came to the plate in the inning.

The Red and Blue made it 6-0 in the second as Zebrack led off the inning with a solo home run, his seventh of the season.

Columbia took back the lead in the fifth, scoring five times on seven hits . In the bottom of the frame Will Davis led off with a walk and Engelhardt reached on a fielder's choice. With two down and Davis on third, Mariano and Brebner belted back-to-back doubles to score a pair of runs, tying the game at eight. Penn then took the lead on a single by Lorenzo.

The Lions retook the lead with a run in the sixth and then scored twice more in the seventh for the 11-9 advantage. The Red and Blue got back within one on a Mariano dinger in the seventh, but couldn't get another run in the inning.

Penn put runners on third in the eighth and the ninth, but a last ditch rally fell short in the final frame as Williams popped up to end the game.

Notes: The Penn pitching staff struck out 269 batters in 2011, the second highest single-season total in school history ... Paul Cusick finished the season with 80 strikeouts, tied for the second-highest single-season total in school history and the most since 1990 ... Will Davis had 16 doubles, tied for the sixth highest total in Penn history ... Cody Thomson and Alex Ott each appeared in 17 games, the most ever for a freshman, and also tied for the fifth highest total in school history ... Dan Williams finished his career with a Penn record 161 consecutive starts ... Williams also finished with 204 hits and 138 runs, both school records ... Williams' 42 career doubles rank third in school history behind Tom Grandieri (49) and William Gordon (49) ... Williams finished his career tied for sixth in career RBI (109) ... Davis finished his career second in school history with 25 home runs ... Cusick finished his career with 200 strikeouts, just the fourth pitcher in school history to reach that total.