PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania baseball team took a one-run lead into the eighth inning of Tuesday's Liberty Bell Classic Championship, but ultimately fell to La Salle after a late home run, 2-1. Freshman Mitchell Holcomb turned in the best start of his freshman campaign, tossing seven scoreless innings while striking out a career-high nine. | Photo Gallery
Penn 1, La Salle 2
WP: Blake James (2-2) LP: Christian Scafidi (0-1) SV: Austin Constantini (3)
BY THE NUMBERS
*9 - Mitchell Holcomb struck out a career-high nine batters Tuesday, including five straight strikeouts between the sixth and seventh innings.
*23 - Tim Graul extended his on-base streak to a team-leading 23 games with a first-inning double, while also extending his hit streak to ten which ties a season-high. Graul is hitting .443 (39-88) with eleven doubles and 24 RBIs in his last 23 games, while the Quakers have gone 16-7 over that stretch.
*37 - Tim Graul's first-inning double off the wall in left was the 37th of his career, moving him into a tie for fifth on Penn's all-time doubles list (Nick Italiano, 2003)
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Quakers jumped out to an early lead in the 26th annual Liberty Bell Classic Championship, beginning with Tim Graul's team-leading twelfth double to put himself in scoring position in the top of the first. After Sean Phelan singled through the left side to move Graul to third, Matt O'Neill sent a two-strike pitch to center for a sacrifice fly to bring in Graul with the game's first run.
Freshman Mitchell Holcomb put together a solid outing on the mound in his sixth start of the season - and third of the Liberty Bell Classic. Penn's midweek man commanded all three of his pitches early and often, striking out four in the first five frames to hold La Salle scoreless over that stretch.
Holcomb seemed to only get stronger as the game progressed, as the freshman struck out five straight Explorers between the sixth and seventh innings to keep the shutout intact with only six outs to get. The righty departed the game after the seventh in line for the win, scattering four hits while striking out a career-high nine.
Penn was held in check by La Salle starter Matt Holt following the first inning, as the Quakers managed just four hits over the next seven innings to keep it a one-run game. The Quakers looked poised to add an insurance run in the seventh after a leadoff triple to right-center off the bat of Thomas Pellis, but Holt stranded the freshman at third with two ground outs and a strikeout to end the threat.
Following a leadoff walk to La Salle's Kevin McGowan, Ben Faso delivered a line-drive, two-run home run to left to give the Explorer's their first lead of the game heading into the final inning. Despite a two-out hit from Pellis in the ninth, the Quakers could not bring him around score as La Salle came away with its second all-time Liberty Bell Classic title in the 2-1 win.
Penn (18-15, 8-4 Ivy) returns to Ivy League action this weekend on the road at Cornell (17-12, 6-6 Ivy) in a pivotal four-game series. The Quakers currently hold a two-game lead over the Big Red in the Gehrig Division standings with just eight games remaining in conference play. First pitch of Saturday's doubleheader is scheduled for 12 p.m.