The weekend was both odd and even for Penn baseball.
Unusually low production from the Quakers’ Ivy League-leading offense resulted in a split against Princeton on the road, and now puts the Quakers in a tie with Columbia for the Lou Gehrig Division lead.
The Quakers (22-14, 13-3 Ivy) sandwiched a pair of two-run losses with a 2-0 victory in the first game and a 6-1 win in the series’ final contest.
On Saturday, when much of the Penn offense was quieted, another stellar start from Connor Cuff and a banner day from captain Austin Bossart allowed the Red and Blue to salvage a split.
Cuff continued his dominance on the mound in the Quakers’ first victory in the series, throwing another scoreless complete game. The junior’s team-high fifth win featured seven strikeouts.
After the Quakers’ bats were held to just one hit in the first three innings, the Red and Blue finally got on the board in the fourth when sophomore Matt Greskoff scored on an error.
Penn’s offensive struggles against Princeton freshman pitcher Chad Powers continued until the top of the sixth, when Austin Bossart, already with two singles, went deep to give the Quakers a 2-0 lead that would hold as the final score.
Game two featured a freshman pitching battle between Penn’s Jake Cousins and Princeton’s Keelan Smithers.
Bossart picked up right where he left off, doubling in senior Brandon Engelhardt in the first inning for the contest’s first run. Five batters later, a Mike Vilardo single coupled with a Princeton (12-22, 7-9) throwing error was enough to score Bossart and senior Rick Brebner, making the Penn lead 3-0 by the end of the first inning.
The early outburst would not carry on, however, as the Red and Blue bats wouldn’t score again until it was too late.
On the other end, the Tigers were held quiet by Cousins early on, managing just one run on two hits though the first five frames.
The sixth inning was another story, however, as Princeton strung together three hits, including an RBI triple by senior Alec Keller, which tied the contest at three and forced Cousins off the mound.
Reliever Stephen Silvestri got out of the sixth and shut down the Tigers in the seventh, but surrendered the lead in the eighth after he gave up a one-run RBI double.
Submariner Pat Bet was then called upon, but immediately gave up a two-run double that made the Princeton lead 6-3 with one inning remaining.
In the ninth, a two-out Bossart single brought the Quakers within a pair, but they would not get any closer.
Sunday’s first contest resembled the series opener, but this time it was the Quakers on the losing end of a low-scoring affair decided by two runs.
The 4-2 defeat, in which Penn’s Dan Gautieri fell to 2-5, marked the first back-to-back loss for the club in over a month.
In the series’ final game, the Quakers put on a performance more typical for them, and handed the Tigers a 6-1 loss to split the series.
The Penn bats — namely sluggers Brebner and Jeff McGarry — woke up and pieced together 10 hits behind a strong, 10-strikeout performance from lefty Ronnie Glenn.
But the action didn’t begin until the game was more than halfway over.
After five scoreless innings from both sides, Penn’s offense finally broke through in the sixth when sophomore Vilardo cleared the loaded bases with a double to left-center to give the Red and Blue a 3-0 lead.
Princeton would counter with a run in the seventh, but Brebner returned to his yardwork grind with a two-run shot in the eighth to give the Quakers a five-run cushion that would hold.