The first win is out of the way. Already ahead of last year’s pace, there should be many more to come for Penn baseball.
The Red and Blue dropped two of three games against Stetson in Florida to open their 2015 season, winning the second game in between losses in the series opener and rubber match on Friday and Sunday, respectively. The Quakers (1-2) are coming off a strong 2014 season that saw the Red and Blue finish 24-17 and win 15 of 20 Ivy games before falling to Columbia in a season-ending playoff loss in coach John Yurkow’s first season at the helm.
On Friday, Penn fell in its opener to the Hatters (7-5), 9-0. Stetson southpaw Adam Schaly held the Red and Blue to three hits over seven innings while striking out five.
Meanwhile, Penn’s senior starting pitcher Ronnie Glenn exited after allowing four runs – two of which were earned – on five hits and six walks in 4.1 innings. The Quakers walked 10 Stetson batters in the game.
“You’re not going to beat anybody like that,” Yurkow said about the high walk total. “We didn’t give ourselves a chance.”
In the Quakers’ first outdoor action of 2015, Yurkow noticed rustiness and early-season issues that put Penn at a disadvantage.
“I just thought in general in game one, our focus wasn’t great, in really all facets of the game,” Yurkow said. “We really didn’t swing the bat that well.”
In the second game, the Quakers jumped out to a 4-1 lead on a rainy Florida day thanks to a strong outing from senior starting pitcher Connor Cuff, as well as a three-run home run from junior outfielder Matt Greskoff. The game was suspended in the bottom of the sixth inning and play was resumed early on Sunday, with Stetson promptly scoring three runs off Penn reliever Mike Reitcheck.
The Quakers struck back with a bases-loaded two-run single from Greskoff in the top of the seventh and a sacrifice fly from senior shortstop Mitch Montaldo in the eighth to pull ahead, 7-4. Reitcheck held the Hatters to two hits over the final three innings.
“I thought we did a really good job showing mental toughness,” Yurkow said. “We could’ve caved at that point [because] they had the momentum, but we answered right back, got a few more and we expanded the lead and got the victory.”
Later on Sunday, the Red and Blue struggled once again on offense in a 3-1 loss. Senior infielder Jeff McGarry — starting at first base — provided the only offense for the Quakers with a ninth-inning home run, but the team couldn’t otherwise crack Stetson’s pitching, squandering an adroit outing from sophomore starting pitcher Jake Cousins, who allowed two runs in 5.1 innings.
Yurkow was unimpressed with the Quakers leaving five men on base and the missed opportunities that ensued.
“We had a couple opportunities where we had a chance to push runs across, we didn’t, [but] I thought all in all it was a very well-played game by both teams,” Yurkow said.
Last season, the Quakers started the season with six losses before sweeping Delaware State in a two-game slate on March 11. This time around, Penn managed to notch its first win of the new season in its second game.
“We’re already ahead of where we were last year,” Yurkow said.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.