Penn fights uphill battle to series win
Despite spotting Lafayette early leads, Quakers finish strong to take two of three
March 28, 2011, 5:21 am · Updated March 28, 2011, 12:00 am·
One up. One on. No outs.
The Quakers’ series against Lafayette began in familiar fashion, as the first Leopards’ batter, Rob Froio, scorched the ball into right field before barreling into third base for a lead-off triple.
But this time, Penn (8-9) was able to overcome its trend of early struggles, winning two of three against Lafayette.
First-inning woes have become commonplace for the Quakers, who have fallen behind in the first frame in 12 of their 17 games this season.
But for the moment, coach John Cole has yet to find the right solution.
“That is just one of the strangest things,” Cole said. “We’ve worked on it ... from the bullpen to the hitters.”
However, equally as common has been Penn’s ability to battle back. In seven of those aforementioned 12 games, the Quakers have gotten back into the game to at least tie their opponents.
So on Friday, it came as no surprise that the Quakers fell behind in the first inning once again before staging a comeback.
After giving up a run in the opening frame, Penn answered back in the second and clawed their way to a lead in the third.
But that advantage was short lived, as two errors in the sixth inning gave the Leopards the opportunity to take a 5-4 lead and the win.
“We gave them a lot of free bases,” Cole said. “[And] made it easy on them to score.”
In the Saturday doubleheader, Penn again started off from behind with Lafayette’s Alex Betcha notching a double down the right field line to spark a two-run first inning.
The Quakers trailed Lafayette until taking the lead in the fifth. This time, the Red and Blue held on, earning a 5-4 win.
“We did a good job about not panicking when we got behind,” senior third baseman Dan Williams said. “We had a little more sense of urgency on Saturday.”
In the first inning of the nightcap, the Leopards had a man on second with two outs. But Penn freshman Matt Gotschall struck out cleanup hitter A.J. Miller to give the Quakers’ pitching staff its first scoreless opening inning of the series.
Senior duo Jeremy Maas and Will Davis each notched a pair of singles in the bottom of the first and a wild pitch allowed Maas to score and finally earn that coveted first inning lead.
Down two in the eighth, the Quakers ignited a rally.
With runners on the corners, a bunt by sophomore Greg Zebrack allowed freshman Rick Brebner to score.
“Zebrack’s big bunt kind of got us some momentum and we finished them off,” Cole said.
Zebrack ignited a five-run scoring outburst that gave Penn the 11-6 win.
“It comes down to whoever’s tougher and can play through being a little fatigued,” Williams said. “The game was done right there. We … put the other team back on their heels.”