2005 Penn Baseball Season Review
Every four years a team says goodbye to its share of seniors. The 2005 Penn baseball team sent off a dozen experienced student-athletes, but they were not the only ones to hang up their cleats after the final out was called. Bob Seddon and Bill Wagner spent 34 seasons on the bench together teaching the game of baseball to many. Their coaching relationship came to an end this past April when Seddon retired after 37 seasons of coaching a Penn sport, whether it was baseball or soccer.
The Quakers battled, as they have done through the career of the 12 departed seniors, through highs and lows. They did so as a team. This season was no different as the Red and Blue embarked on a spring trip to the West Coast that would have given some reason to hang heads. It gave Penn a reason to dig deep and approach the League campaign with vigor.
The 2005 Pepsi/Johnny Quik Classic showcased baseball programs from around the nation. Penn entered the tournament with a chip on its shoulder, having lost two games to open the season. The Quakers began the season with an offensive explosion, scoring eight runs in a 9-8 loss to Southern Utah. Senior catcher Matt Horn opened his final campaign in the Red and Blue with a four-hit, three-RBI performance. Junior first baseman Sean Abate showed signs of what was to come with a pair of hits in three at bats in the season opener.
Abate hit .313 and ripped a team-high five home runs in his first season as a full-time starter. His performance at the plate as well as his .993 fielding percentage (247 put outs and 25 assists in 272 defensive chances) earned him the team’s Most Valuable and Most Improved Player awards.
Penn came back to Philadelphia looking for its first win of the season. It came on March 19 when Hartford came to the Penn Baseball Stadium at Murphy Field. Penn gutted out a 5-4 win, giving senior Josh Appell is first victory of the season as the lefty worked 5.2 innings and struck out six batters. Fellow senior Alex Blagojevich led the way with three RBI on the day and a double. The Tampa, Fla. native finished the season with seven two-baggers to tie for second on the team.
The win sparked the Quakers as Penn went on a five-game winning streak, its longest of the season. Penn swept Hartford with an 8-3 victory and carried that momentum into the opening round of the 2005 Liberty Bell Classic. Lafayette was the opponent and the Quakers had a chance to show off some of their young talent in a 3-2 extra-inning victory. The Quakers scored a pair of runs in the third but the Leopards answered with two of their own in the sixth. Penn freshmen hurlers Andy Console, Nick Francona and Steven Schwartz held the Lafayette offense at bay, going a combined six innings on the mound. Penn followed its youth movement with a pair of veteran right-handers, seniors Dan Finkelstein and Remington Chin, who combined four perfect innings, setting the stage for another rookie. With two runners on, Jarron Smith calmly slapped a single to score classmate Alex Nwaka and propel the Quakers to the semifinals of the Liberty Bell Classic. Smith would duplicate his late-game heroics on April 4 against Dartmouth with a walk-off, two-run home run to give Penn a 10-8 win in 10 innings a season sweep of the Big Green.
Columbia came to Penn to open the Ivy schedule for a home-and-home four-game series. Wins within the Lou Gehrig Division were a must, especially early in the season. Penn came through by taking three of four from the Lions to catapult to the top of the division standings.
In the first game, Appell fanned a career-high 13 batters in a 7-2 victory. The complete game was one of two for the two-sport student-athlete as he tied classmate Bill Kirk for the team lead. Appell again would lead the Quakers in strikeouts, punching out 46 would-be hitters and giving him 85 strikeouts in two years as a starter.
Kyle Armeny, who hit .285 during his rookie campaign with 11 extra-base hits, cracked his first-career home run in the Quakers’ come-from-behind victory, 9-7, at Columbia to close out the season series.
The Red and Blue fell to Villanova, 3-1, losing the chance to play for the Liberty Bell Classic title at Citizens Bank Park. Four days and two wins later, Penn was 5-1 in the Ivy League and battling for a possible League title that has eluded the Quakers since the 1995.
Following the Dartmouth series, Penn suffered a seven-game losing streak that was snapped by the Quakers’ biggest offensive outpour of the season. Saint Joseph’s proved to be just what the team needed as the Red and Blue scored 14 runs on 19 hits in their 14-3 win at Murphy Field. In the game, five Quakers enjoyed multi-hit days. Blagojevich went 3-for-4 as did Horn, while Moffie and senior Bryan Graves each collected two hits apiece. Sophomore second baseman Andrew Bechta was a perfect 3-for-3 on the day. Moffie’s two-hit performance was par for the outfielder’s season and career. The Wallingford, Conn. native led the team with 15 multi-hit games during his final season and led with nine multi-RBI outings. His eight-game hitting streak was second only to Graves who led the team with nine en route to a .290 batting average.
Moffie collected 49 hits during his final season in the Red and Blue en route to a team-leading .340 batting average, placing him second on Penn’s all-time list with 183 hits. He earned second-team All-Ivy League honors and was named the team’s top offensive player for the second year in a row.
Penn’s late-season shining moment came during the first double-header of its four-game series against perennial Ivy power Princeton. The Quakers, behind the arm of Appell and junior right-hander Brian Cirri, beat the Tigers, 3-1 and 5-4, to sweep the day. It was fitting that the two wins came on the same day that Seddon was honored for his over three decades of service to the Penn baseball program.
Cirri broke through during his junior season on the mound, leading the team in ERA (4.31) and innings pitched (48.0). Cirri struck out 32 batters in 2005, fanning seven against Columbia and six in eight innings of work at Cornell.
The Penn pitching staff, although deep with young talent, depended on its senior leadership and dependability. No one was more dependable than Remington Chin, who broke the all-time single season record for appearances with 19 during his final season. Chin made only one start but he had the ability to shut down the opposition in the late innings when either holding a lead or securing a win was needed. At one point during the season, Chin went seven appearances and 11.1 innings, allowing no earned runs to cross the plate.
Penn ended the season with a record of 11-26 and a 7-13 mark in the Ivy League to finish third in the Lou Gehrig Division. The Quakers will need to replace a veteran outfield and consummate teammate Evan Sobel at shortstop in 2006. The new coaching staff has a core of young players that are young in age alone. The 2005 season allowed for the underclassmen to get onto the field and be integral parts of both the offense and defense. Console came into his own as the Quakers’ closer, notching a team-leading four saves, while Schwartz and Francona will complement Cirri in the rotation. Armeny has solidified himself as a pure and powerful hitter. Along with Abate, he, the other returnees and incoming freshman class will have a chance to continue a legacy that Seddon and Wagner established during their long and successful tenure time at Penn.
Written by Mat Kanan, associate director of athletic communications