Walk-off Sweep for Baseball against Harvard on Saturday

Penn 8 - Harvard 1

Penn 8 - Harvard 7

PHILADELPHIA - The Quakers got a walk-off sacrifice fly from Spencer Branigan in the bottom of the 12th for an 8-7 win in the second game on Saturday after righty Paul Cusick tossed a gem to help Penn to an 8-1 win over Harvard in the opener at Meiklejohn Stadium on Saturday.

With the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the 12th inning, Branigan fought out of a 0-2 hole to a 2-2 count and drove a pitch into deep enough into left that senior Dan Williams was able to score from third with no throw home. Branigan was mobbed at first by his teammates as the win propelled Penn to a sweep of the Crimson on Saturday.

The inning started with a single by Williams into left and Maas followed with a bunt to the pitcher. Reliever Ben Sestanovich picked up the ball and might have had a chance to get him at first but the throw to first went off Maas' back and rolled toward the first base dugout. Williams took third on the throw and Harvard intentionally walked senior Will Davis to load the bases for Branigan.

Penn's late game heroics almost overshadowed an outstanding pitching performance by senior Paul Cusick in the day's opener. The righty was nearly unhittable, tossing a seven-inning complete game with a career-high 12 strikeouts as the Red and Blue won 8-1. The senior gave up one unearned run and allowed just one extra base hit on the day in keeping the Crimson off balance with a potent mix of fastballs and off-speed offerings.

A number of Quakers had big days at the plate, highlighted by Maas and junior Derek Vigoa. Maas went 5-for-10 overall, scoring three times and driving in one run. Vigoa was 4-for-7 overall and 3-for-4 in the second game with two RBI in each game.

In the first game, Cusick and Harvard starter Eric Eadington kept zeros on the board through the first two innings. Harvard struck first in the top of the third with an unearned run off Cusick.

The Red and Blue responded in the bottom of the frame with a leadoff home run by freshman Rick Brebner to tie the score at one. Adrian Lorenzo followed with a double and Zebrack bunted his way on to base, advancing Lorenzo to third. With runners on the corners, Maas singled, scoring Lorenzo from third. Davis was then hit by a pitch to load the bases, which brought up Williams. Williams singled to center and the centerfielder misplayed the ball off the bounce, allowing two runs to score. Consecutive outs ended the inning with the Quakers on top 4-1.

Penn added to their lead two innings later with three runs in the fifth. Freshman Brandon Engelhard and Maas laid down back-to-back bunt singles to lead off the inning. Davis followed with a single to load the bases. Consecutive outs left the bases loaded with Vigoa at the plate. The shortstop belted a single to center, scoring a pair of runs. A walk by Brebner loaded the bases and Lorenzo walked as well, scoring Davis for the 7-1 lead.

The Quakers added one more run in the sixth and Cusick retired the last eight batters of the game, including four by strikeout to earn his third win of the season.

In the second game of the afternoon Harvard more than matched their run total from the first game, scoring three times off of starter Matt Gotschall in the top of the first.

Penn answered in the bottom frame with six runs. Williams started the run with a one-out single. Maas followed with a single of his own and Davis was hit to load the bases. With two down, Brebner hit a ball that went off the shortstop's glove and into left. Williams and Maas both scored, making it a 3-2 ballgame. Vigoa followed with a bunt single to score one and tie the game at three apiece. With two on, Zebrack launched a shot way over the fence in left for his first home run of the year and a 6-3 lead.

Two innings later Harvard closed within one with an unearned run. In the fourth the Crimson tied with at six with two more unearned runs. After a leadoff walk, junior Patrick Brennan replaced Gotschall. Two errors in kept the inning going as two runs crossed to make it 6-6.

In the top of the fifth, Harvard took the 7-6 lead on a solo homer by Marcus Way. Penn responded with some small ball in the bottom of the sixth as Mariano led off the inning and reached on a throwing error to first by the pitcher. Brebner moved him over on a sacrifice bunt and then sophomore Kirk Hayes came in to pinch hit for the Mariano. Vigoa then doubled down the left field line, scoring Hayes and tying the game at 7-7

The Crimson put runners in the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth, but Brennan and relievers Alex Ott and John Beasley kept them at bay. Penn also puts runners on in the eighth and ninth but were denied by Harvard reliever Will Keuper.

With a runner on first and one out in the 11th, the Red and Blue turned to freshman Cody Thomson. He got three consecutive outs to end the threat. In the 12th he shut down the Crimson again, after giving up a one-out double, setting the stage for the Quakers' late game heroics.

Penn returns to action on Sunday at noon for a doubleheader at Meiklejohn with defending Ivy League Champion Dartmouth, who swept Columbia in a double-header on Saturday.