Baseball Survives Extra-Inning Affair to Force Split

PHILADELPHIA - With a doubleheader split on Saturday against the Lafayette Leopards, the Penn baseball team took two out of three in the shortened weekend series and are now 7-9 on the season. The Quakers return to Meiklejohn Stadium on Tuesday afternoon for a 3 p.m. contest against the Villanova Wildcats in the opening game of the Liberty Bell Classic.

Game One - Lafayette 3, Penn 2 (7 innings)
Box Score
Starting at 10:30 a.m., the Penn bats woke up too late to defeat the Leopards in the opener on Saturday morning. Cody Thomson threw five innings and only allowed two runs, but the Quakers couldn't muster enough offense to down Lafayette as the sophomore took the loss on the hill to go to 0-1 this season.

The Leopards scored two crucial runs in the top of the second inning, singling three straight times with one away to load the bases before a sac fly and fourth single of the inning made it 2-0. Thomson ended the inning by catching the runner on first in a rundown and Derek Vigoa eventually made the throw home to Austin Bossart, who tagged out the runner trying to score from third.

Spencer Branigan quickly responded in the bottom of the inning with a towering blast down the right field line, his second of the year, to cut the lead in half at 2-1. But from there, the group work of the Lafayette pitching staff would combine to keep Penn in check for much of the way.

Both teams were hitless through the third, fourth and fifth innings as the game remained stuck at 2-1, but Lafayette finally broke through in the top half of the seventh with an all-important insurance run off an Andrew Santomauro triple to left-center, scoring James McCool from first and extending the lead out to 3-1.

Down to their final chance, Penn strung together a pair of one-out doubles to draw back within one at 3-2. With two down and Brandon Engelhardt on second, a wild pitch moved the sophomore to third before Sean McGrath struck out Branigan on a 3-2 pitch, handing Lafayette the victory.

Game Two - Penn 9, Lafayette 8 (11 innings)
Box Score
With the off-and-on rain from the morning moving out of the area, both offenses came out swinging in the second half of the twinbill. Lafayette went station-to-station in the first inning as leadoff hitter Brad Hopek walked, was sacrificed to second, advanced to third on a grounder and finally scored off a successful bunt single to put Lafayette briefly ahead at 1-0.

Penn stormed back off LC starter Ethan Perro, who would be pulled before the end of the third inning. The first three Quaker batters of the game would reach on base knocks, with Branigan singling past the second baseman to score Engelhardt and tie the game at 1-1. One batter later, Greg Zebrack flied out to right field, bringing in the speedy James Mraz for a 2-1 lead.

Lafayette would go down meekly in the second and third innings, with the third ending on the first of three Quaker double plays in the game. The Red and Blue seemed to put a stamp on the game with a five-run bottom half of the third inning. Spurred by four hits and helped along by two Lafayette errors, Rick Brebner, Vigoa and Bossart each collected RBIs in the inning and put an early end to Perro's day. Each team added one run in the fourth Penn maintained a comfortable six-run margin at 8-2.

Things changed in the fifth inning as a massive two-out rally from Lafayette tied the game at 8-8. It would take three Penn pitchers to stop the bleeding as the Leopards chased starter Matt Gotschall and reliever Chris McNulty before Sam Horn retired the side. The game suddenly became a pitcher's duel after that, as Horn went four complete innings allowing only a pair of hits and getting the game into the ninth inning.

A two-out double from Scott Kelleher put the Leopards in business in the top of the ninth, but after Connor Cuff made a bullpen appearance in relief of Horn, Vigoa made the defensive play of the game with a leaping play at shortstop to rob pinch-hitter Kevin Casey of what would have been the go-ahead base hit. Given new life, Penn worked runners into scoring position in both the ninth and 10th innings but couldn't scratch the winning run across.

After Mitch Montaldo ended the top of the 11th with a 5-3 double play off a smoked ball at his feet, Cody Dillabough started the bottom of the inning with a walk and was able to move to third on a wild pitch and Vigoa grounder up the middle. With one down, Bossart hit a liner to shallow right that dropped in front of Andrew Ruck and brought Dillabough in with the deciding run for a 9-8 victory.

Dan Gautieri improved to 2-1 with an inning of work in the 11th, while Toby Schwartz took the loss and fell to 0-2 due to his walk of Dillabough. Bossart put in a long day of work behind home plate but still managed to go 2-for-6 with three RBIs, including the game-winner, in the afternoon contest.

Download: Penn-Laf Game Two.pdf