This year, when coach John Yurkow walks out to the mound, he won’t be calling junior Ronnie Glenn to the mound, he’ll be sending Glenn to the dugout to end his outing.
The Yurkow era has seen plenty of new beginnings, with one of the most notable being Glenn’s transition from closer to starter.
Last year, Glenn excelled as a reliever , tying a school record and leading the Ivy League with eight saves. Glenn was also named in the National Collegiate Baseball Writer’s Association’s Mid-Season Stopper of the Year Watch List for his efforts.
Penn recruited Glenn to be a closer, but one unique trait of his that made Yurkow take a second look: Having a left-handed starter can be rare in baseball so Yurkow decided to transition his southpaw closer into the rotation to keep a leg up on the competition.
During the summer, Glenn pitched as a starter, which helped to make his eventual transition easier. After competing in the summer baseball league, it was almost implied that Glenn would be a starter for the upcoming season.
“It was kind of an unspoken thing,” Glenn said. “I don’t remember ever actually sitting down and talking to [Yurkow] about it. ”
After becoming accustomed to pitching one to two innings as a closer, it took some to time for Glenn to get used to seven- and eight-inning outings.
“When you’re closing it’s a high adrenaline thing,” Yurkow said. “Now he’s learning to pace himself.”
“It took a little while to get the endurance I needed,” Glenn added. “It takes a lot of focus mentally.”
One of the hardest things for Glenn to adjust to was dealing with a pitch count. Most relievers come in and throw as hard as they possibly can for one inning , but starters have to pick and choose when to ramp up the velocity on the batters they face.
After a few rough starts, Glenn put together one of his best performances against Lafayette in the Quakers’ home-opening doubleheader. After taking a no-hitter into the fourth inning, Glenn finished seven innings of work with three runs on four hits and seven strikeouts.
“I’ve been improving every outing,” Glenn said. “The more innings you pitch, the more experience you get.”
“He pitched great last weekend,” Yurkow added.
With Ivy play on the horizon, the conference will be scrambling to find a way to thwart Glenn on the mound as a starter rather than a reliever.
“They haven’t seen me much other than a few innings out of the bullpen,” Glenn said.
Yurkow is especially excited about what the transition will do to opposing batters facing Glenn to start off the game. Their unfamiliarity gives Glenn an advantage the first few times through the batting order which allows the Penn offense more time to take control and build momentum.
The versatility of Penn’s pitching staff is sure to be key to their success in Ivy play this year. As Glenn gets more and more starts under his belt, he has the potential to reach a few more records before his time at Penn is up.
But from now on, those records will come at the beginning of the game, and not the end.