Sevens Unlucky for Baseball in Losses to Princeton

PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania baseball team (20-14, 6-6 Ivy) suffered a pair of tough losses on Sunday to Princeton (11-21, 8-4 Ivy), defeats that are harder to swallow because of the near-miraculous comeback that the Quakers forged in the second game of the day. After a 7-1 loss in the seven inning contest, Penn twice fell behind by four runs in the afternoon nine-inning contest. Each time, the Red and Blue fought back to stay within shouting distance of the Tigers. A three-run rally with two down in the bottom of the ninth inning forced extras, but Princeton’s Alec Keller won the game with a 10th inning solo home run to allow the Tigers to escape with a 7-6 win.

Game One – Princeton 7, Penn 1
Box Score
Early offense was the key for Princeton all weekend and it was no different in Sunday’s opening game. Base hits from Keller and Danny Hoy put two on with no one out to open the game, and the pressure on Penn starter Dan Gautierionly amplifiedas the Quakers committed an error on a potential double-play ball with Mike Ford batting. Already with one unearned run in, Princeton tacked on two more with a sacrifice fly into deep center field and a RBI single from Nate Baird to go up 3-0 before Penn had a turn at the dish.

Pulling double duty as the game one starter as well as three-hole hitter, Ford helped his cause with a two-run double in the top of the second, and Steve Harrington followed up with a RBI single out of the clean-up spot to make it 6-0 for the Tigers through one-and-a-half.

Gautieri finally settled in after the rough start, retiring Princeton quietly in both the third and fourth innings, but the Quaker offense wasn’t able to do him any favors, managing only two hits – both of which came in the fifth inning.

After Princeton had added to the lead with a single run in the fifth, Penn finally got on the board in the home half. Spencer Branigan ended the threat of the no-hitter with a single into right field, then became the first Quaker to move into scoring position after Ryan Mincher drew a walk. Mitch Montaldo drove Branigan in with a RBI single through the middle to make it 7-1.

Despite the momentary disruption, Ford regained his form and put Penn down in order in both the sixth and seventh to grab the complete game victory. With the win, Ford moved to 4-0 on the season, while Gautieri suffered his first loss and falls to 5-1.

Game Two – Princeton 7, Penn 6 (10 inn.)
Box Score
Once more, Princeton scored a first inning run to give Penn an immediate hole to dig out of. This time around, Hoy and Ford found themselves on second and third with one away in the first. With the Quaker defense playing back, a groundout from Harrington to Mincher at shortstop was enough to bring Hoy in for a 1-0 lead against Penn starter Pat Bet.

The Tigers added to their lead in the third with three more runs, the RBIs coming from Harrington, Ryan Albert and Billy Arendt. It wasn’t until the bottom of the fourth inning that the Quakers could strike against Princeton’s Cameron Mingo. An error from Alex Flink at third base opened the door, with Ryan Deitrich reaching base, then moving up to second as Austin Bossart was hit by the first pitch of his at-bat. Mike Vilardo was up next and doubled down the left field line to plate Deitrich and move Bossart to third. A flyout from Branigan was deep enough to bring Bossart in without a throw to trim the Quaker deficit to 4-2.

The blow that seemed to put the game out of reach for a long while came in the top of the sixth as Ford cranked his second home run in as many days against Quaker pitching. With a man on, the blast gave Princeton a 6-2 lead.

The Red and Blue came back once more as Branigan doubled deep into the power alley in left-center. With two down, he came in to score on a Montaldo single to make it a 6-3 contest.

John Beasley came on in relief of Bet to open the seventh inning and almost single-handedly kept the Quakers alive in the late stages, allowing only two hits in the seventh, eighth and ninth. At the same time, the Quakers went down in order in the seventh and eighth at the hands of Mingo, backing themselves into a corner they didn’t seem capable of getting out of.

When Mincher and Montaldo went down to open the bottom of the ninth, Mingo had retired nine batters in a row and was just one out away from a complete game victory. Suddenly, the Quakers came to life. Connor Betbeze started it off with a hustle play, beating a throw from Flink at third that would have ended the game. That was followed by a single from Brandon Engelhardt through the right side of the infield. After Rick Brebner battled and drew a walk, the bases were loaded for Deitrich as the winning run. Ahead 0-2 on the Penn slugger, Mingo lost control and hit Deitrich in the back, bringing in a run and leaving the bases loaded at 6-4. Wasting no time, Bossart swung on the first pitch he saw and lined a ball into left field to score two and amazingly tie the game up at 6-6.

That was all for Mingo, who saw his fortunes change dramatically in the space of about 10 minutes. Danny Thomson came on in relief and was able to get out of the jam by popping Vilardo up to the first baseman to send the game into extras.

The momentum was certainly on the side of the Quakers, especially when Beasley retired the first two Princeton batters of the tenth inning. But just as quickly, Keller quieted the crowd and restored the lead to the Tigers with a solo home run to center field that narrowly cleared the wall, making it 7-6. Penn got out of the inning and still had a chance to tie or win, but all the Quakers managed was a two-out walk by Montaldo.

Thomson earned the win with 1.1 innings of relief to move to 1-2. Beasley threw spectacularly for 4.0 innings, but suffered the loss to go to 1-1 this season. Engelhardt and Vilardo led the Red and Blue with two hits apiece.

Penn embarks on a seven-game road swing beginning Wednesday with the final non-conference test of the season. The Quakers will travel to Lehigh for a 3:30 p.m. game that day before opening a four-game series at Cornell this weekend.

Download: Game One.pdf