Penn baseball has improved with stellar defensive play

Emphasis on eliminating errors has helped Quakers win six of last seven

· April 6, 2012, 1:10 am   ·  Updated April 6, 2012, 1:11 am

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Patrick Hulce | DP

Outfielder Greg Zebrack is fourth in the Ivy League with a .405 batting average this season. The junior has three home runs and 19 RBIs in 21 starts.


The Penn baseball team taking the field this weekend looks a lot different than the squad that started the season.

After a 3-5 start, the Quakers (12-10, 3-1 Ivy) are getting hot — they’ve won four of their last five games due, in no small part, to the squad cleaning up its act.

This is the same team that began the year with 11 errors in its first five games and has now gone an entire game without an error in three of its last five matchups.

“It’s a product of practice,” coach John Cole said. “We’re trying to practice perfect, finish plays off, and we’re doing a better job of it.”

Tuesday’s 9-4 victory over La Salle was Penn’s fifth game in three days. With the win, the team advanced to the finals of the Liberty Bell Classic, where it will play St. Joseph’s at Citizens Bank Park on April 17.

But for now, the team must focus on its two doubleheaders during this weekend’s Ivy roadtrip — the first against the Big Green on Saturday and the second against the Crimson on Sunday.

“No thoughts on Citizens Bank,” Cole said. “We’re worried about Dartmouth.”

The Big Green (5-13, 1-3) have been shut out twice in four Ivy games and struggle offensively.

“Should be really exciting,” said junior Greg Zebrack, who is hitting .405 on the season. “Every Ivy League game is really important.”

“It’s going to be a battle,” Cole added. “Any time you go on the road on an Ivy League weekend, you really have to play well.”

Harvard (4-19, 1-3) presents another obstacle the Red and Blue will have to overcome. While the Crimson’s record has been lacking, Cole is concerned about their baserunning.

“We have to control Harvard’s running game, play defense and limit the freebies,” he said. “When we do that, we’re pretty good.”

The Quakers enter this weekend’s games with confidence in their offense. Zebrack, junior Ryan Deitrich and senior Derek Vigoa have all been hitting well lately. The trio has a combined .362 batting average.

As for Penn’s pitching, senior righty Vince Voiro will get the nod in the first game, but Cole keeps no steady starting rotation.

“Whoever’s hot,” he said. “That’s who we go with.”

For Zebrack, the goal for each game is to do “whatever it takes to win.”

“As a whole,” he said, “we’ve been playing more together as a team.”

The Quakers will need to continue to put together complete games to stay atop the Lou Gehrig Division.

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