After getting its first taste of live pitching, real grass and natural sunlight last weekend in Florida, Penn baseball is set to head down to Virginia for a warm spring break.
The Quakers are scheduled to open their road trip on Friday with its first of three games against Old Dominion, although coach John Yurkow noted that the teams might play a doubleheader on Saturday instead of playing on Friday.
Yurkow indicated that he will have seniors Ronnie Glenn and reigning Big 5 Pitcher of the Week Connor Cuff pitch the first two games before turning to sophomore Jake Cousins for the finale.
The coach said that his main goal for the weekend is to win the series, but he also brought up a more specific issue that’s weighing on his mind.
“One thing to keep an eye on is how we hit left-handed pitching, because I don’t think we did a good job of it last weekend,” the second-year coach said. “We’re working on some things to try to get that taken care of ... I’m anticipating at least one of [Old Dominion’s] starters being left-handed.”
Penn (1-2) certainly floundered in its first encounter with a lefty: Stetson southpaw Adam Schaly shut out the Red and Blue for seven innings in the season opener. The Quakers lost that first game 9-0, then bounced back for a 7-4 win before dropping the rubber game, 3-1.
“The first game, it was the first time we were outside. We weren’t really in the flow of the game,” Yurkow said. “We walked too many guys, and I didn’t think we got great at-bats. By the second game, we started to settle in a little bit and play better baseball.
“That’s kind of what I had expected, to be honest.”
The bats got off to a slow start in the first series, as Yurkow had warned would likely be the case; but a few Red and Blue batters did a decent job with the lumber. Senior captain Austin Bossart went 4-for-10 over the weekend, while fellow senior Jeff McGarry and junior Matt Greskoff both went deep.
Yurkow can be certain of an improvement in at least one area for the Virginia trip: depth.
“One of the problems going down to Florida is that we were not able to take our whole roster, so it’s tough to match up on the bench,” he said. “On the spring trip, we can take everybody, so we’ll have more options.”
After the three-game set against Old Dominion (2-4) in Norfolk, Penn will head to Richmond for two games against VCU (3-5) and five against Richmond (5-3), with one off-day between each series. Yurkow said he expected sophomore lefty Mike Reitcheck to get a start in one of the VCU games, possibly turning to a freshman for the other.
Yurkow and his crew are geared up for the sun-chasing trip down south, but the coach is thankful that it will be the last one. After spring break, the Quakers will play the rest of their games in the northeast, with hopes that the sun will follow them home.
“You can do as much simulation in The Bubble [Penn’s indoor practice facility] as you want, but it’s just not the same as [practicing and playing] outside,” he said. “We’re looking forward to that, whenever it does get warm up here.”
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