Penn baseball turns win streak up to 11

With two two-game sweeps of Harvard and Dartmouth, Penn now leads Ivies at 8-0

· April 6, 2014, 9:40 pm   ·  Updated April 7, 2014, 10:25 pm

Shichao Wang | DP

Sophomore infielder Mike Vilardo was a major part of Penn's four victories over the weekend, driving in seven runs and helping to drive Penn's win streak to 11 games.


If it wasn’t apparent before this weekend, it is now: Penn baseball is here to stay.

Taking on Harvard and Dartmouth on the road, the Red and Blue used complete games from their two aces and some hot hitting to secure a second straight Ivy weekend sweep, remaining undefeated atop the Ancient Eight standings at 8-0.

“We really showed some fight and were able to battle through things this weekend,” coach John Yurkow said of the team’s road performance.

Junior starter Dan Gautieri continued his recent success and earned his second straight complete-game win in the first matchup with Harvard (5-18, 1-5 Ivy), giving up just three runs on six hits.

The Quakers (15-10, 8-0) drew first blood in the top of the fourth when senior Rick Brebner scored on a Mike Vilardo sacrifice fly after leading the inning off with a walk.

Gautieri let Harvard back in the game, giving up lead after the Crimson’s three-run fifth inning.

The Quakers weren’t phased, however, as their bats responded with three runs in each of the next two innings to put the game out of reach at 7-3.

Leading 4-3 going into the seventh, the Quakers used a bases-clearing triple from Brebner and a Jeff McGarry sac fly to extend the lead to four before Gautieri shut the Crimson down to solidify the win.

Freshman Jake Cousins got the call for the Quakers in game two and started off in a groove, retiring the first nine batters and fanning five in the first three innings.

Penn found a run in the second with a Ryan Mincher RBI single, and Rick Brebner mashed a two-run homer in the third to make the score 3-0.

The Crimson tied the game up in the bottom of the frame, using a string of hits accompanied by a few costly Penn errors.

The Quakers regained the lead in the sixth inning after Vilardo reached on a fielder’s choice and made his way around the bases as a result of several Harvard errors.

After timely hitting from Tim Graul and Mincher helped Penn extend its lead to 9-4, freshman closer Mike Reitcheck shut the door in the final frame, limiting damage and finishing off the 9-6 victory.

On Saturday, Penn continued its string of success.

Junior pitcher Connor Cuff shut down the Big Green (5-16, 2-6) in the twinbill’s first contest, which the Quakers took easily. Cuff was repeatedly able to strand runners in his third complete game performance of the year.

“It’s critical if you can get those seven-inning games for Danny and Connor to go out and throw complete games,” Yurkow said. “It’s a huge lift to the staff.”

Vilardo hit a home run to put Penn on the board and the senior Brandon Engelhardt drove in the Quakers’ second run the following inning. Penn’s bats added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh, finishing off Cuff’s victory.

In the second contest, Penn freshman starter Jack Hartman struggled, paving the way for junior Ronnie Glenn to take over in relief as the Quakers fell behind, 3-0.

And with Glenn holding the Big Green at bay, Penn’s offense got going. After Brebner tied the game with a solo homer in the fifth, Austin Bossart hit a go-ahead homer in the seventh that Vilardo followed up with a two-run double, setting up the 7-4 victory.

At the end of the weekend, Yurkow touched on the exciting atmosphere around the squad that has taken the Ivies by storm.

“They’re extremely confident right now,” he said. “They’re having a lot of fun, and they should be. There’s just a really good energy in the dugout right now.”

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