Penn baseball is heating up at just the right time.
After struggling early on in nonconference play, the Quakers (4-8) look to extend their three-game winning streak as the squad prepares for the start of Ivy League play this weekend. The team will host a pair of doubleheaders against Harvard and Dartmouth.
One of the team’s bright spots through a dozen contests, Penn’s formidable pitching staff will be put to the test on Saturday against the Crimson (10-8), who have posted at least eight runs in five of their last six games. Senior captain Connor Cuff is set to start the opener on Saturday, while sophomore southpaw Mike Reitcheck is expected to get the nod in game two.
Cuff has been rounding into form recently — the 2014 first-team All-Ivy selection boasts an ERA of 1.00 and is coming off a complete game victory over Lafayette on Sunday. The Quakers will be looking for a similar performance this weekend from the trusty righty.
Reitcheck has been handling his transition from closer to starter well early in the season. Set to make his first career Ancient Eight start, the sophomore has a team-leading two wins and has held opponents to a .231 batting average.
Heading into the weekend, coach John Yurkow stressed the importance of being fundamentally sound both on the mound and in the field.
“We’ve just got to continue to keep throwing strikes and limit the walks on the mound, and also play good team defense,” Yurkow said. “That’s what hurt us when we were sputtering earlier in the year.”
Harvard senior second baseman Jake McGuiggan and senior catcher Ethan Ferreira, who have driven in a combined 26 runs this year, are two Crimson bats that could do damage to the Red and Blue on Saturday.
“Harvard is playing really well right now,” Yurkow said. “They’ve surprised some people.”
It was a surprise to many last year when Penn downed Dartmouth (2-14) directly following a sweep of Harvard, but the Quakers are fully expecting to take care of business during this weekend’s homestand. The Big Green’s offense has yet to get going after facing a variety of solid nonconference opponents early on, while junior ace Duncan Robinson has struggled.
Yurkow will tap another senior-sophomore combo — Ronnie Glenn and Jake Cousins — for pitching duties on Sunday against Dartmouth. The pair was able to combine for a 10-strikeout outing in Penn’s 4-2 victory over St. Joseph’s on Tuesday.
Now, with its pitching staff gaining command and timely hitting coming through more frequently, Penn appears prepared to take on the Ivy League.
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