Four wins in five games. Two Ivy League weekly pitching honors this week. Eight hitters batting over .250.
It’s time to put it all together for the Penn baseball team (8-9), which seems to be catching fire at the right time heading into this weekend’s Ivy openers against Brown and Yale.
“It’s all about starting off strong and showing up ready to play,” said senior pitcher Vince Voiro, who was named both Big 5 Pitcher of the Week and Ivy League Pitcher of the Week for his dominant performances on the mound this week. Freshman Connor Cuff earned Ivy Rookie of the Week honors.
The Quakers open conference play against Brown (2-14) on Saturday in a doubleheader. However, the Bears won the second game of their last outing against San Jose State and are looking to build on that momentum. Their team batting average is comparable to the Quakers — .268 to Penn’s .276 — and they have three hitters batting over .300 to the Quakers’ four.
“Brown is aggressive, and our biggest challenge will be to make sure we eliminate their opportunities to score and put lots of pressure on them,” coach John Cole said.
On the mound though, the Quakers have the clear upper hand. Ace Voiro boasts an impressive 1.67 earned run average and a 3-1 record, while freshman phenom Cuff currently has a 3.63 ERA and a 1-1 record in six appearances.
For the Bears, it’s a different story. Freshman Taylor Wright currently has the lowest team ERA with 2.79 and a 0-1 record over seven appearances and one start. The remaining pitchers on the staff all have ERAs of over 5.00.
“If we can get five solid innings from our starting pitchers, we’ll be in really good shape,” Voiro said. “Our relief pitchers have done really well in the last couple of games, so we’re really confident in our pitching staff right now.”
Yale currently has the best record in the Red Rolfe division, albeit at 6-13-1, and has lost five of its last seven games. The Bulldogs have a team batting average of .266 and have scored 66 runs on 140 hits, while the Quakers have plated 87 runs on 159 hits. The Red and Blue also have the slugging advantage, with eight long balls to Yale’s one.
“Yale has some really strong lefthanded pitchers, and we haven’t done as well against lefties this year,” Cole said. “So if we can handle their lefty pitchers, I think we’ll do alright.”
The challenge for the Quakers will be to keep up their momentum through all four games of the back-to-back doubleheaders.
“It’s a long weekend,” said senior infielder Derek Vigoa, whose .321 average is the second-highest of the regular starters. “Honestly, those second games of the doubleheaders are much more mental than physical. We just have to make sure we stay focused and realize that every game is a clean slate and we start all over whether we win or lose the first game.”
Cole feels the Quakers are most lacking in consistency, particularly in their hitting.
“We showed signs of life against Villanova this week, but we need consistency. We need to be relaxed yet aggressive and take it one pitch at a time. And I think that’ll get us where we need to be.”
“We’re going to put it all together this weekend,” Vigoa said. “We’ve got the momentum and we’re ready.”