Opening play in 2015, the Quakers headed south — in more ways than one. Playing eight games in Florida and Virginia, coach John Yurkow’s squad got things started with a 1-7 record, and it briefly didn’t look like things would be getting any better. Back home, the Red and Blue fell in the first contest they hosted, 9-4, to Villanova.
And then things started to change. They wouldn’t lose much more after that, taking 11 of the next 12 and eventually storming to a 12-2 start to Ivy League play.
It soon became apparent where things were heading. With a pair of four-game series left against Princeton and Columbia, it seemed inevitable that the road to the Ivy League Championship Series would again lead to a direct collision with the Lions.
And inevitable it was.
After sweeping the Tigers at home by an average of four runs per contest, all eyes turned to the Gehrig Division’s top two teams. Both entered the four-game set with a 16-2 conference record. In order to win the division, someone was going to have to take three of the four games.
The first two took place in New York, and they were both close affairs. Penn snagged the first one, 4-3, thanks to a complete game from then-senior pitcher Ronnie Glenn. For the second end of the doubleheader, however, the Quakers couldn’t plate a run, falling, 1-0.
Back in Philadelphia the next day to finish up the regular season, the Red and Blue came within a single game of the division title with a 2-0 win to begin play on April 26 and secured a program-record 16th conference win. In the fourth inning of the game, then-senior Mitch Montaldo hit his Ivy League-leading 10th home run and the Quakers never looked back.
All they needed now was to win the season’s final contest to move on to the Ivy League Championship Series, to be played against Rolfe Division-winning Dartmouth.
It was not to be. After falling behind, 3-0, in the first inning, Penn tied things up at 4-all and eventually forced extra innings with the game knotted at 6-6. In the top of the 10th, however, sophomore Mitchell Hammonds surrendered a pair of runs and the Quakers couldn’t respond. For the second year in a row, Penn and Columbia would meet for a one-game playoff to determine the fate of the Gehrig Division.
Much like 2014, the Lions got the last laugh. Playing again in New York, the Red and Blue tied the game at 2-2 before solo shots in the seventh and eighth innings secured a 4-2 win and a division title for Columbia.
With that loss, the careers of 10 of the Quakers’ leaders on and off the field drew to a close. Austin Bossart, the catcher whose .358 batting average led the team, was drafted in the 14th of the MLB draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. He was joined in the pros by Glenn, drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 22nd round after posting a 3.12 earned run average and 48 strikeouts.
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