Penn baseball comes back to beat ‘Nova on the road

Rookie Connor Cuff comes out of the bullpen to get first collegiate win

· March 22, 2012, 12:14 am

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After the first five innings of Wednesday’s baseball game, Penn’s prospects looked bleak. But the Quakers fought back to get their first victory over Villanova since 2009.

The Red and Blue beat the Wildcats, 6-3, Wednesday afternoon at Villanova Ballpark.

Early in the game, the Red and Blue (5-8) had trouble capitalizing when on base. In the first inning, juniors Greg Zebrack and Spencer Branigan were walked but were unable to reach home after two fly outs and a strikeout. After a single that followed a throwing error in the second inning from a failed pickoff attempt, the Wildcats (13-9) scored their first run of the game.

“We were so close a bunch of times with a lot of guys in scoring position, and our hitters were just missing balls and we ended up not capitalizing sometimes,” pitcher Connor Cuff said.

Though the Quakers attempted to fight back in the third, which included a triple by sophomore Brandon Engelhardt, they left the inning with a zero in the score box.

“We had left some guys on base twice,” coach John Cole said. “We had a lead-off triple and then didn’t hit anything. We took a hit and run with first and third just to get the guys in motion, which we did a good job of putting pressure on them all day.”

Though Villanova scored again in the fourth inning, Penn tied it up in the sixth on a triple from junior Ryan Deitrich and singles from freshman Austin Bossart and sophomore Kyle Toomey. The Quakers took the lead in the seventh inning after sophomore Rick Brebner’s triple.

“Toward the later innings, we started getting hits when we needed them and making plays in the field during crucial times when we really couldn’t allow them to score,” Cuff said.

The Red and Blue ended with four triples on the night and scored two more runs in the eighth inning to go up, 6-3.

Winning pitcher Connor Cuff was key in the victory, giving up only one run and two hits in four innings pitched at the end of the game.

“Connor Cuff just threw the lights out for us in relief,” Cole said. “He’s as good as I’ve seen anybody throw for us — eight strikeouts in four innings against a very good offensive lineup.”

For the first time coming out of the bullpen, Cuff made an impression against a good Villanova offense.

“Just getting the first batter out was the biggest nerve-settler, just because I have never come out of the bullpen before,” Cuff said. “In the [seventh] inning, where they got a bunch of runners on, I think it was big only holding them to one run.”

Both Cole and Cuff added that it feels good to beat Villanova.

“It’s a good win for us. We usually go over there and suck it up to them,” Cole said. “It’s nice to get a win on the road against a pretty good team.”

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