The Quakers had plenty of time to work on their game during a midweek tune-up for a huge Ivy series, but didn’t get the result they’ll be hoping for this weekend.
Penn baseball fell in 12 innings by a score of 6-5 to the New York Institute of Technology on Wednesday evening.
In what proved to be a long game in the Big Apple, the Quakers (13-14, 5-3 Ivy) got a fairly short outing from junior southpaw Jack Hartman, who allowed two runs — one earned — on three hits and a walk in three innings while striking out four.
NYIT (14-17) got a home run from Joe Daru in the bottom of the first and scored again on an error, but the Red and Blue got those runs back in the top of the third on an RBI double from Tim Graul and an unearned run of their own. Graul had three hits on the day, continuing his red-hot junior season.
“It’s funny, I was looking at our stats a few days ago, and I had thought his average [.293] was higher,” Penn coach John Yurkow said of Graul. “He’s probably been our most consistent hitter in terms of putting the barrel [of the bat] on the baseball all year. I feel like he’s lined out more than anybody on the team, and had good at-bats throughout the season, so it was good to see him drive some more balls today. He’s doing a good job for us this year.”
“I feel pretty good and comfortable up there,” Graul said. “I have a good idea of what I want to do, which is just drive balls gap to gap.”
After Penn took the lead in the next inning on a solo shot from senior Matt Greskoff, senior right-hander Mitch Holtz tossed three innings in relief of Hartman. Holtz allowed one run on two hits and a walk, striking out a pair.
The Quakers scored another unearned run in the top of the seventh to take a 4-3 lead, but freshman Grant Guillory got into a jam in the bottom of the eighth and classmate Jake Nelson allowed an inherited runner to score on a groundout to tie the game.
The game went into extra innings, and Penn took the lead in the tenth when sophomore Andrew Murnane drew a bases-loaded walk. But Nelson could not hold the lead, as Daru went deep leading off the bottom of the frame for his second home run of the game.
“He’s a good player,” Yurkow said of Daru. “He actually homered from both sides of the plate, which you don’t see very often in college baseball.”
In the 11th inning, senior outfielder Jonah Campbell was asked to pitch for just the third time.
“He has been working as a pitcher this spring, in spurts,” Yurkow said. “We’ve just gotten to a point where we’ve been comfortable putting him in.”
Campbell, who had yet to record an earned run going into Wednesday, pitched a clean 11th, but an unearned run won the game for the Bears in the bottom of the 12th as Daru doubled, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a walk-off sacrifice fly from Matthew DeAngelis.
“We did some things well, we battled, but we left a lot of guys on base today,” Yurkow reflected. “I feel like we had some opportunities early to open the game out, and we just missed out on some of those.”
The game, of course, means nothing for Penn as far as the Ivy title hunt is concerned. The Quakers are very much in the thick of the race, and can take the lead in the Gehrig Division with a road series win over Princeton (13-13, 6-2) this weekend.
“We’re just trying to move on,” Graul said. “We’re ready for Princeton, and we’re going to start preparing for those guys.”
“Any time you lose a one-run game late like that, it’s a little harder to shake it,” Yurkow admitted. “But we’ll have to find a way to do that. It’s a big series this weekend against Princeton. They’re playing well.
“You have four games against a first-place team. I hate to be cliche, but you’re playing one game at a time, and at the end of the weekend, you hope you’re playing your style of game, and you see where you’re at in the win-loss column.”
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