There’s really only one way to describe the end of Penn baseball’s season: Frustrating.
The Quakers were supposed to be the best team in the Ivy League. They had the pitching. They had the offense. They had the preseason hype.
But now, for the second consecutive season, the Red and Blue will be watching the Ivy Championship from afar. After falling to Columbia on Saturday in a one-game playoff to determine the Lou Gehrig division’s winner, the Quaker’s 16-4 regular season Ivy record — the best in program history — turned out to be for naught.
It’s easy to point fingers for the loss.
Ronnie Glenn lasted just 1.1 innings in the biggest start of his career. Jonah Campbell struck out with the bases loaded to end the sixth inning in a 2-2 game. Third baseman Jeff McGarry went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
If you want to go back even further in the search for the Quakers’ scapegoat, you could point to Connor Cuff’s abysmal .1-inning, 3-run clanker of a start last Sunday. If the Quakers had won that game — they ended up falling 8-6 to the Lions in extras — there would have been no need for a playoff game, and the Red and Blue would be preparing to take on Dartmouth for the Ivy championship.
Perhaps you could put the blame on McGarry. After coming into the season as Baseball America’s pick for Ivy Player of the Year, the senior turned in a disappointing 2015 campaign, hitting just .262 with four home runs.
However, to engage in such accusations would be an injustice. While it’s hard not to be salty after a second consecutive year of coming up short, Quaker fans must keep in mind that this was a truly superb Penn team.
Catcher Austin Bossart was his usual dominant self at the plate, leading the team with a .358 average. Connor Betbeze and Mitch Montaldo broke out during their senior season, with Montaldo leading the Ancient Eight with ten homers. Sophomore lefty Mike Reitcheck led the league with a 1.71 ERA and will anchor the rotation in the years to come.
And despite their respective poor final starts, Glenn and Cuff provided valuable leadership on the season, with each securing four wins as Glenn was second in the conference with 48 strikeouts.
So the end to Penn’s season should not be looked at as a failure; it was simply a case of the Quakers not getting the breaks when they desperately needed them. They played five consecutive games against the two-time defending Ivy champion Lions to conclude their season and battled neck-and neck with the conference’s best right to the end.
And though coach John Yurkow has come up just short in each of his first two seasons at the helm, he has instilled a culture of year-after-year excellence in University City. Without a doubt, the Quakers will be back next season, ready for more.
So there is reason to feel optimism.
But for now, it’s OK to just be frustrated.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.