After a sloppy mid-week matchup with Villanova, a Saturday split and Sunday sweep were exactly the type of spring cleaning the Quakers needed to keep morale high and their two-game lead for first place intact.
Penn started the weekend off by splitting games with Princeton — winning, 10-9, and then losing, 5-3 — before sweeping the Jersey rivals the next day, 9-2 and 5-4.
The Red and Blue (20-15, 10-2 Ivy) made critical plays, executed on base and played stellar defense to rout the Tigers (21-15, 6-6).
The first game of Saturday afternoon saw the Quakers explode for four runs in the first inning after trailing, 1-0.
By the conclusion of the sixth inning, the Quakers were on top, 6-4, and in a comfortable position to add another tick mark in the win column.
After a few critical plays by the Tigers, capped by two home runs, the Red and Blue found themselves in a 9-6 hole.
Freshman pitcher Amanda Gisonni took sophomore Alexis Borden’s place in the circle, and confidently closed out the top of the seventh.
In a tight spot, seniors Samantha Erosa and Brooke Coloma got on base. Senior outfielder Jessica Melendez followed with a single to get Erosa across home plate. Then, junior first baseman Georgia Guttadauro smacked a double to push the Quakers to a 9-9 tie in the bottom of the seventh with no outs and two runners on base.
The next move would ultimately decide the game.
Senior catcher Jessica Arneson hit a bunt to send Melendez sliding into home, capping an incredible comeback and vaulting Penn to a 10-9 victory.
“It was a great play by coach,” Arneson said. “It was a whole team effort, if it weren’t for those three runs, I wouldn’t have been in that position.”
Freshman pitcher Lauren Li stepped in to try and keep the momentum going for the Quakers.
But Penn couldn’t conjure up the same magic in the Saturday afternoon matchup.
Princeton brought in runs in the second, third and fourth innings before the Quakers scored. The Tigers followed by producing two more runs in the fifth, putting the pressure on the Quakers.
Junior Elysse Gorney and Erosa hit back-to-back solo homers, but it was too little, too late, as the Quakers could not turn in another blockbuster finish, falling to the Tigers, 5-3.
Sunday, the Quakers came out and dominated, starting the first game with an early 3-0 lead.
Penn continued to fight and kept Princeton off the board until the fifth inning when Princeton notched two solo home runs.
But the Quakers pulled away in a bottom of the fifth explosion with an RBI single from Coloma and a three-run homer from Guttadauro. Penn widened its lead to 7-2 and ultimately won after two more runs in the sixth inning, 9-2.
Finally, another dramatic installation concluded this long Ivy weekend, starting off with a Coloma home run to put the Quakers up, 2-0.
But Princeton responded in the third with a home run to level the score.
The battle of home runs continued as Erosa smacked the ball out over left field for her second solo homer of the weekend, followed by an RBI double by Melendez to increase Penn’s lead to 4-2.
More home runs came off the bat of the Tigers in the fifth. But the Quakers were able to keep their lead, securing the 5-4 win.
Looking to next weekend’s matchup against Cornell, coach Leslie King recognizes the Quakers’ position.
“We’re in the driver’s seat now,” King said. “It’s gonna be a tough, tough weekend, but I think we’re up for it.”
“Our team feeds off each other — as you can tell we don’t generally score one run, two runs, we score four runs” Arneson said. “[Cornell] better look at this and better be intimidated.”
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