It’s pretty safe to say Penn baseball coach John Yurkow could use a little less excitement in his life.
On April 1, the Quakers will take on St. Peter’s (Pa.) just two days removed from the team’s pair of thrilling walk-off wins against Harvard. Penn (7-9) will look to continue the momentum that has driven the team to a 6-1 record over its past games despite preparing for the Peacocks (2-14-1) on a short week.
“It’s tough enough if you go Saturday-Sunday, but the fact we went Sunday-Monday, [Tuesday] when we practice it’ll be a light day,” Yurkow said on March 30 following the sweep of Harvard. “You hope that you can continue to carry the momentum in and play a good game come Wednesday.”
The Red and Blue started off the season slow, but recently have hit their groove in finding a way to win tough games. Of the team’s seven wins, four have come by just one run, including three this past weekend.
While that success may not be sustainable — few teams can work walk-off magic day-in and day-out — it has placed the Quakers in a three-way tie atop the Lou Gehrig Division moving into their second weekend of conference play.
“Even when things didn’t go right for us, we still fought back. This team’s starting to show some toughness late in the game,” Yurkow said of the team’s recent weekend stretch.
“If you’re going to try to win a championship, you’re going to be in tough games and you’ll need to find a way to win them.”
Meanwhile, St. Peter’s has struggled its way to the midpoint of the season. The Peacocks lost their first 10 games before earning a one-run win over Quinnipiac in late March.
St. Peter’s has hit .190 on the season as a ball club, struggling to produce just 2.38 runs per game at the plate. From the mound, there hasn’t been much more success as the team has allowed runs to the tune of a 7.38 ERA.
Most recently, the team fought to an 8-8 tie in 10 innings against NJIT, a season-high in scored runs for the Peacocks.
Given the fact that Penn is coming off of four games over a two-day stretch, Yurkow will look to rest many of his primary pitchers to ensure they’re ready for the upcoming Ivy weekend slate of Yale and Brown.
“We’ll probably throw a bunch of guys on Wednesday, give some [younger] guys some work,” Yurkow said.
On the offensive side, Penn will continue to rely on a strong core of upperclassmen who have led the lineup since opening day.
Senior catcher Austin Bossart leads the squad with a .345 batting average, while fellow senior Connor Betbeze is coming off an excellent five-game stretch where he batted .571 with a .786 slugging percentage.
“The good thing [with a midweek game] is it gives our hitters some more looks so they can get into that rhythm,” Yurkow said.
“It’s good to be in the flow of the game, so it’ll be good to have a midweek game and hopefully we play well.”
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