After dropping three of four to Princeton this past weekend, Penn baseball needed a win. They got it.
Hosting La Salle in a Big 5 matchup on Tuesday, the Quakers sent the Explorers packing, 9-3, on the back of a strong collective effort on the mound.
Electing to use six different pitchers over the course of the game, Penn coach John Yurkow’s staff logged 10 strikeouts while yielding just a pair of solo home runs in the contest between city rivals.
“It’s good to see when you can get a bunch of arms throwing like that, get a bunch of guys involved,” Yurkow said. “We did get behind early — the first three guys were behind the count a bit — but they made pitches when they needed to.”
After junior Jack Hartman worked a scoreless first inning, senior Gary Tesch led off the bottom of the first for the Quakers (15-18) with a single to right. He was subsequently caught stealing, however, and the Red and Blue went quietly the rest of the inning.
La Salle (10-27) got on the board first with a solo home run in the top of the second from senior Joey Ravert, but Hartman quickly settled down, ceding only the one run in the frame. If the Quakers were hoping for some response runs in the bottom of the inning, they wouldn’t get them, going down in order as sophomore right-hander Greg Paprocki continued dealing for the Explorers.
For the third, sophomore Bradley Wilpon took the mound to get some work for Penn, maneuvering out of a little trouble after walking then hitting consecutive batters as La Salle failed to expand upon its lead.
The Red and Blue knotted things up in the third as junior Tim Graul hit a two-out single to bring in senior Matt Greskoff. Graul and freshman Matt McGeagh advanced to second and third, respectively, on a passed ball, but senior shortstop Ryan Mincher couldn’t bring any more runs home.
It wasn’t long before the tie was broken again. Freshman Drew Jarmuz skied one to left field with one out, the Explorers’ second solo shot of the day.
Freshman Grant Guillory relieved Wilpon with two outs and a runner on first in the inning, and freshman catcher Matt O’Neill ended the frame by gunning out La Salle’s Yan Carlo Rivera as he tried to steal second.
Neither team managed to get much going over the next few innings, with both sides bringing in new arms in the fifth.
The Explorers would have been better off keeping Paprocki in — with two outs in the fifth, Graul launched one into the scoreboard in left for a two-run homer — his Ivy League-best fifth blast and 23rd RBI of the season. O’Neill then broke the game wide open a few batters later with a two-run double down the left field line to give the Red and Blue a 5-2 advantage.
"We drove some balls with guys in scoring position — finally," Yurkow commented. "We haven't really been doing a good job of that."
Junior Adam Bleday — who earned his second win of the year — worked effectively to keep the Quakers ahead and sophomore Daniel Halevy padded the lead with a two-run homer in the seventh to make it 7-2.
In the eighth, senior Mitch Holtz blanked La Salle before freshman closer Jake Nelson sealed the victory following an two-out RBI double for the Explorers in the ninth.
“Games like this are kind of big for us moving forward and taking it into the weekend,” Graul said. “We know that we can dominate when we want to dominate.”
With just two weekends left of conference play in the season, it’s a good time for the Quakers to be building up momentum.
“In the years that I’ve been here, we’ve always played our best ball in the last two weekends,” Graul continued, “so hopefully we can keep that going.”
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