baseball

Senior Matt McKinnon's three RBI helped Penn win its second game against Cornell on Saturday.

Photo: Thomas Munson

The Big Red weren’t able to break the momentum of the red-hot Quakers.

Penn baseball took three out of four games from Cornell over the weekend in the teams’ opening series of Lou Gehrig Division play. The Quakers took both games on Saturday, winning 13-8 and 9-2, and split on Sunday, losing 2-0 before bouncing back with a 5-4 victory.

The four-game set got off to a wild start, with both offenses exploding in a back-and-forth battle. The Big Red (9-20, 6-6 Ivy) jumped on Penn starter Connor Cuff, who surrendered four runs on three hits and a whopping six walks while only getting four outs.

“Connor is having a lot of trouble throwing strikes, but it was good to see the team pick him up, and score a bunch of runs,” Penn coach John Yurkow said.

Fortunately for Penn (15-11, 10-2), Cuff’s counterpart wasn’t much better. Brian McAfee allowed seven runs — four of which were earned — on nine hits and two walks in five innings.

After Cornell took an early lead with two runs in the bottom of the first, the Red and Blue evened it up in the second. The hosts scored another pair in the home half of the second, but Penn took advantage of three Cornell errors to score five runs in the third, highlighted by a two-run hit from junior Ryan Mincher and an RBI from junior Gary Tesch.

Cornell then scored two runs against senior Dan Gautieri to cut it to 7-6, and the Big Red tacked on a run in each of the next two innings to take an 8-7 lead.

But the heroics of the Quakers’ Mitch Montaldo swung the game in Penn’s favor late in the first game. The senior connected for a three-run blast off Cornell reliever Nick Busto in the top of the sixth to give his team a lead, and repeated the feat in the top of the seventh to put the game away.

The Red and Blue had a far more convincing win in the second game on Saturday. Sophomore Mike Reitcheck pitched a terrific game, providing the Quakers with eight innings of two-run ball, striking out six while allowing four hits and walking two.

“We needed that,” Yurkow said of Reitchek’s outing. “[When] you’re traveling on the weekends, you’re going to be a bit more limited [roster-wise]. So for Mike to come out and let us rest our bullpen, that was big.

“It really helped us going into Sunday’s games.”

Senior Matt McKinnon had three RBI in the game, while junior Matt Greskoff notched four hits and swiped home on a double steal. Senior captain Austin Bossart added an RBI double in a terrific all-around performance by Penn’s offense against Cornell starter Eric Upton.

The Big Red earned their lone win of the series in the first game on Sunday, capturing the shutout behind Kellen Urbon’s complete-game performance. Senior Ronnie Glenn pitched a complete game of his own for the Quakers, but he was simply outdueled by his counterpart.

“He threw the ball really well,” Yurkow said of Urbon. “He was ahead of us basically the entire game. Sometimes you just gotta tip your cap to the guy.”

RBI singles from Tommy Wagner and Spencer Scorza provided all the support Urbon would need, and Cornell secured just its third win in its last 11 games.

Gunning for a series win, sophomore Jake Cousins took the mound for the Red and Blue in the weekend finale and struck out three over six and one-third innings, allowing four runs — three earned — on eight hits and three walks. After falling behind early, the Quakers scored five unanswered runs on RBI singles from sophomore Tim Graul, Greskoff, senior Jeff McGarry and McKinnon to take a 5-2 lead.

Cousins gave back two of those runs, but sophomore Mitchell Hammonds shut the door on the win with two and one-third scoreless frames, getting three straight outs with the tying run in scoring position to earn the save.

Penn has now won 14 of its last 17 games after dropping eight of nine to begin the season. The Red and Blue are tied with division rival Columbia for the best record in the Ancient Eight, and will host Princeton for a four-game set this weekend after a midweek doubleheader against NYIT.

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