With First Place in Sight, Baseball Takes on Cornell this Weekend

PHILADELPHIA – Although there is plenty of baseball left to be played in the Ivy League’s Gehrig Division, this weekend’s series between Penn and Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y. could determine a lot in who ultimately wins the division. The Big Red sit in first place at 5-3, while Penn has played one more series than Cornell and comes in with a 7-5 mark.

The Quakers (13-14, 7-5) are coming off their second consecutive weekend where they took three out of four from Rolfe Division opponents. Cornell (12-14, 5-3) took two last Saturday from Dartmouth before getting swept at Harvard on Sunday.

Penn started its weekend last Saturday by putting up six runs in the top of the eighth to beat Yale, 12-6 and cruising to a 9-1 victory in the nightcap behind the complete game effort of Jim Birmingham. Matt Toffaletti went 2-for-5 with five RBI, including a three-run homer in the seventh.

Monday at Brown, the Red and Blue took Game 1 behind the efforts of three freshmen. On the mound, Todd Roth (4-1) held the Bears scoreless for the final four innings, while offensively Toffaletti hit a solo shot in the fourth that tied the score and William Gordon knocked in the go-ahead run in the seventh.

In the nightcap, Penn and Brown combined for 27 runs and 31 hits in a game that took three and a half hours. However, the Bears prevailed in the shootout, 15-12.

Gordon has been swinging the hot bat for the Quakers of late. He boosted his average 50 points last week and sat at an even .300 before Wednesday’s game with La Salle. Since moving into the second spot in the batting order last Saturday, Gordon has batted .417 (10-for-24) and hit safely in all five games.

Last season, the Big Red took three out of four from Penn at Meiklejohn Stadium. The Quakers’ lone victory came in Game 1 of Sunday’s doubleheader, 11-6. Penn holds the all-time series lead, 137-94-2.

Both doubleheaders this weekend are scheduled to start at noon.