Ivy road trips have not been kind to Penn baseball, but as the team reaches the crux of its season, it hopes a return to Meiklejohn Stadium will turn its luck around.
As Penn (15-17, 6-6 Ivy) takes on division leader Cornell (24-10-1, 10-2) at home for a pair of doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday, it will need to win three or four games to remain in serious contention for the division title.
However, in order to do this, the Quakers will have to beat a Cornell team that tops the league in most statistical categories, including scoring, hits and home runs, to name a few.
“They’ve obviously had a good year and they’re doing things right,” coach John Cole said. “If we beat ourselves up for the stakes, they are going to capitalize because they are playing well right now. We can’t beat ourselves — that’s the key.”
While the crowd munches on dollar hot dogs, Penn will need to make sure they take advantage of every pitch. If the Quakers don’t garner at least a series split, they will be mathematically eliminated from Ivy contention.
“We’re just going to try to come out here and win a game one pitch at a time,” junior outfielder Ryan Deitrich said. “We can’t really get ahead of ourselves. We’ve got to win the first game tomorrow and prepare for that.”
But in the scheme of the weekend, the Red and Blue must set out to win all four games. While the hitting is strong in most games, it will be the pitching from game to game that makes the difference.
“We’ve got to pitch, we’ve got to throw strikes and we’ve got to hit when we’re in scoring position,” Deitrich said. “That’s all we really need to focus on is executing on those ends.”
Additionally, Penn must figure out a way to hit against a Cornell team that throws a lot of strikes and changeups.
“We need to play a complete game. We need to play a series in which we pitch, we hit, we field,” Cole said. “When you do that, good things happen. We need to play a complete weekend if we’re going to hang around.”
After a few disappointing games and series, the Quakers are working hard to move their way up in the Lou Gehrig division.
“We put ourselves with our backs to the wall so our room for error is zilch,” Cole said. “We’ve just got to win every pitch, and hopefully it’s a good weekend for us.”
While the Big Red prepare to continue this season’s reign at the top of the league, Penn must understand the sudden-death quality of this weekend’s series.
“This is our season right here,” Deitrich said. “We’ve got to have a good weekend if we have any chance of winning the title. We have to come out and win.”
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