DeLand, Fla. - Facing the first pitch of the 2012 season, left fielder Brandon Engelhardt confidently turned on and stroked a sharp line drive into right-center for a base hit. It was a good start for an offense that was destined to need to put runs on the board against a high-powered Stetson attack. But once the first inning rally was put to bed, the Hatters showed why they've earned a national ranking as high as #19 by Collegiate Baseball, seeming to capitalize on every Penn misstep as they scored four first inning runs - only one earned - and then tacked on 10 more in the late stages of the ballgame on their way to a 14-1 win.
Kurt Schluter earned the win, scattering six hits over six innings and going to 2-0 on the season. After the shaky first inning, Vince Voiro (0-1)settled in and was unscored uponuntil his exit after the fifth, but the seniorstill took the opening night loss for the Quakers.
After Engelhardt's base knock, Kyle Toomey laid down a bunt between the mound and home, sacrificing Engelhardt to second with just one away. Schluter was able to avoid any early trouble with a strikeout of Spencer Branigan and an induced infield pop fly from Ryan Deitrich.
Having escaped from that jam, the Hatters took advantage of the opportunities given to them in the bottom half of the inning. Lead-off man Mark Jones drew a walk and a hard grounder to Rick Brebner at third base was bobbled, allowing two to reach with no one out. After a popout from Sam Kimmel, back-to-back base hits plated two for a 2-0 Stetson lead. When Spencer Theisen popped out to Toomey at shortstop, Voiro was only one out away from escaping with minimal damage, but a two-out double into left field cleared the bases and put Stetson ahead 4-0 before a strikeout ended the inning.
Penn got on the board in the top half of the fourth inning behind a deep Branigan double to left-center. Cleanup hitter Deitrich cashed him in with a RBI single up the middle past Robert Crews at second base to make it 4-1 and advanced to second on the throw home. James Mraz would later single to shallow center but Deitrich couldn't advance on the hit as Stetson's Theisen was charging in and looked to be able to make a play on the ball until it fell in just under his glove. The run-scoring opportunity ended with a 3-6-1 double play.
Voiro continued to silence the Stetson bats through five complete and a one-out triple to the wall in center field by Deitrich had Penn in business in the top of the 6th. With Brebner at the plate, Schluter uncorked a ball that bounced in front of the plate and past Kimmel to the backstop. Deitrich sprinted for home but Kimmel found the grip, wheeled and threw to Schluter at home who the umpire ruled made the tag in time.
The game was ultimately decided in the bottom of thesixth as Stetson scored seven runs, sending 11 batters to the plate as the Penn relief corps did themselves no favors, issuing three free passes in the inning. Freshman Stephen Silvestri mopped up the inning, facing just one batter and getting Mitchel Brennan to fly out to right field. Stetson would add three more runs in the seventh, aided by two Penn errors in the inning, to get to the final margin.
Deitrich led the Penn offense with a 2-for-4 night, including his RBI single. Mraz was 2-for-3 with a pair of singles.
The Quakers play their second game at the Bright House Invitational tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m., facing the Georgia State Panthers. GSU lost its opening game of the invite on a walk-off single to Southern Illinois and will bring a 5-5 overall record into tomorrow's game.
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