Penn error-ing on the side of caution
Avoiding defensive miscues vital to Quakers’ chances at Liberty Bell Classic
March 29, 2011, 5:05 am · Updated March 29, 2011, 12:00 am·
Cutting down on errors will be key for the Penn baseball team this afternoon with a chance to play at Citizens Bank Park on the line.
The Quakers (8-9) face La Salle (13-10) this afternoon at Meiklejohn Stadium in the first round of the annual Liberty Bell Classic.
Of the eight teams currently involved in the annual tournament, Penn is the only school to never have won the Classic.
The Red and Blue have a tough first matchup as they face the Explorers, whose nine-game winning streak just ended.
The Quakers will have to tighten their defense in the single-elimination tournament to put themselves in a position to win against a dominant La Salle pitching staff.
“[Last weekend] we had some big throwing errors that we need to clean up,” senior third baseman Dan Williams said.
In the Quakers’ only loss this weekend, the team committed two errors which ultimately cost them the game.
“We need to play defense, not give them any freebies, walks or errors,” coach John Cole said.
Minimizing errors will prove even more imperative as this season’s Explorers have relied on help in order to win. They have yet to win a game in which their opponent is free of mistakes.
Still, the Red and Blue must deal with La Salle’s right-handed ace Shane Petrellis.
In his five appearances this season, Petrellis boasts a 1.73 earned run average, the lowest on the team.
La Salle also has a strong relief corps. In 12 appearances, sophomore Pat Christensen has only walked one batter, struck out 22 and boasts a 1.06 ERA.
However, if recent history proves to be any indication, Petrellis’ dominance on the mound may be short-lived.
In last year’s 11-7 win over La Salle, Penn knocked in six runs off the righty in two innings.
The Explorers will face off against lefty and 2010 All-Big 5 team pick Chris McNulty.
The junior has had a mediocre start to the season, however, posting a 3.47 ERA. His past performances against La Salle bode well for the Quakers in today’s game.
In last year’s effort, McNulty pitched two shut-out innings of relief, allowing no hits and earning the win. In his freshman season, he pitched a scoreless ninth and earned his first save in the colors Red and Blue.
“We’re going to have a tough game on Tuesday,” Cole said. “But we think [McNulty] is the right guy.”
A win against La Salle will allow the Quakers to advance in the tournament and move one step closer to the Phillies’ home field.
“They’re a good club,” Williams said. “But I know we can beat them.”