MattONeillBaseball

With three home runs in his last four games, junior catcher Matt O'Neill is heating up for Penn baseball as the Liberty Bell Classic approaches.

Credit: Pranay Vemulamada

After a weekend in Providence, Penn baseball will look to exude dominance in the City of Brotherly Love.

In the first round of the Liberty Bell Classic, the Quakers will return to Philly, yet they still will have to wait even longer to make their season debut at Meiklejohn Stadium. The Red and Blue will take on local rival Saint Joseph's on the road on Tuesday afternoon, at 3:30 p.m., marking the team's fifth consecutive game that was originally planned to be at home but was either moved or cancelled due to weather concerns.

The Liberty Bell Classic is a three-round tournament that includes teams from Philadelphia and the surrounding area. Each round is only one game, and the tournament is single elimination. The first round will be held on March 27, the second on April 3, and the remaining two teams will face-off in the Battle for Philadelphia on April 17 at Citizens Bank Park.

The original eight schools were La Salle, Saint Joseph's, University of Delaware, Penn, Villanova, Temple, Drexel, and West Chester.

Eventually, Lehigh, Lafayette, and Rider replaced West Chester, Temple, and Drexel to create the teams that are involved in the tournament currently. 

In addition to Penn’s game against St. Joe’s, Lafayette will take on Villanova on the same side of the bracket. La Salle will play Delaware and Lehigh will face Rider.  

Since the tournament's inception in 1992, Penn (5-13, 1-2 Ivy) has never won the Liberty Bell Classic, remaining the only team of the eight currently in the bracket to have never done so. 

The Quakers were awfully close to breaking that skid last season, when they advanced all the way to the championship game before falling to eventual champion La Salle in a 2-1 heartbreaker decided by an eighth-inning home run. Last season, Penn beat Lafayette and Villanova in the first two rounds to advance to that final, but fell short despite seven stellar shutout innings from then-freshman Mitchell Holcomb in the title match.

The year before that, St. Joe’s (8-11, 0-3 Atlantic 10) won the tournament.

Following a series loss to Brown, in which Penn baseball pulled out a win in the last game after clawing back from an 8-1 deficit, the Quakers will look to build off of Sunday’s win on Tuesday.

“I think we have good momentum rolling into this week, playing in the Liberty Bell Classic," said junior captain Matt O’Neill, who had two home runs in the Brown series.

Building momentum might be key to succeeding this week; after St. Joe’s, the Quakers will prepare for their next Ivy League series against Dartmouth.

“It’s really just another midweek game,” said Coach John Yurkow. “Hopefully we take some of the momentum from this game and carry it into Tuesday.”

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