It looks like things are starting to click for Penn baseball and coach John Yurkow.
Following a spring break road trip during which they won only two games, the Quakers sat nine games below .500 and were struggling to consistently produce at the plate.
But after a week of rest, three Penn wins in four games against in-state rival Lafayette last weekend gave the Quakers a bit of momentum.
Entering Thursday’s road matchup with Villanova, the Red and Blue hoped to build off their weekend momentum against another local rival.
With its first Ivy League contests of the season looming this weekend, Penn’s bats busted out against the Wildcats. The Quakers used a six-run fifth inning and strong pitching to knock out Villanova, 12-1.
The win marks the fourth time Penn (6-10) has won on the road in 2014, a much-needed victory that helps maintain the team’s momentum as it prepares for its upcoming doubleheaders with Yale and Brown.
Though the Quakers’ six-run outburst in the fifth was the tipping point of Penn’s win over Villanova (7-15), the Red and Blue applied plenty of pressure all game long.
After threatening in the first, Penn plated two runs off of RBI singles from junior third baseman Mitch Montaldo and sophomore right fielder Matt Greskoff. The Quakers also scattered hits in the third and fourth innings before forcing two pitching changes with their onslaught in the fifth.
Up until the Red and Blue put the game out of reach, Villanova refused to go quietly.
The Wildcats put runners on base against Brian Schwarzbach in the third and fourth. But the sophomore reliever from Houston buckled down, forcing two double-play balls up the middle to preserve the shutout.
After the Quakers added to their total in the seventh, Villanova finally managed to plate a run and put some pressure on Penn. The Wildcats cut the deficit to eight and loaded the bases with no outs in the frame, but junior Steven Silvestri got out of the jam.
“For the most part, we pitched it pretty well,” Yurkow said. “And the offense is starting to come around. The older players, some of the upperclassmen that we’re dependent on, are really starting to pick it up for us.”
Silvestri worked the final three innings without allowing a run, and the Quakers added three runs in the ninth on a two-run double from junior Paul Cotler.
Now that Penn has won four of its past five, the team’s collective attention now shifts to its two doubleheaders with the Bulldogs and Brown this weekend.
“We’re starting to get it going,” Yurkow said. “I thought we’ve struggled to score runs early in the season, but we’ve started to pick it up lately which is really good to see coming into this weekend.”
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