Only two weeks into the season, the Penn baseball team is in unchartered waters -- .500. A pair of split doubleheaders with Mount St. Mary's (9-12) this weekend left the Quakers at 7-7, while the '99 squad went 9-28 for its entire campaign and was 4-10 at this point in the season. Penn relied heavily on the strength of its freshman class, winning the first and last games of a four-game series, 8-7 and 18-6, respectively. Paul Grumet (1-0) and Andrew McCreery (3-0) picked up the wins for the Quakers. Grumet now leads the Quakers with a 1.50 earned run average, and McCreery has the most wins on Penn's staff. Freshman Ben Otero chipped in five innings of work in the second game Saturday, but was outdueled by another freshman -- hard-throwing Brian Santo, who pitched a complete game for the Mountaineers, giving up just three hits and one unearned run, handing the Quakers a 6-1 loss. Penn freshmen also saw plenty of action on the field. Zach Hanan started three of the four games at third base, and Nick Italiano got in time at second base at the end of two games. Fittingly, it was freshman McCreery's walk in the bottom of the eighth that drove in the winning run to start Penn's weekend off with a win. The Quakers rallied to score four runs in the bottom of the third inning to tie the game at six. Then Penn went up 7-6 the next inning on McCreery's ground out. But the Mountaineers tied the game back up in the fifth when Quakers sophomore Matt Hepler walked in a run. After Hepler ran into trouble, Grumet came in and slammed the door on Mount St. Mary's, throwing 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, Mountaineers freshman Blake Smith walked McCreery on four pitches to give the decision to Penn. In the nightcap, Penn's bats went dry, held at bay by fireballer Santo and his low-90s fastball. But the Quakers did have their opportunities -- three times they left two runners on base in an inning. Otero was matching Santo, allowing just two hits and a run through four, but the Mountaineers caught up with him in the fifth, tagging him for four runs. "They're an aggressive hitting team, and I left a couple changeups up. They hit some good pitches," Otero said. "But we left too many people on base. He's a good pitcher -- he threw hard, and his off-speed stuff was working. We didn't come out offensively enough." Yesterday's twin bill began with a 7-6 loss for the Quakers. Mount St. Mary's sophomore Brandon Woodward pitched 4 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on seven hits, but was good enough to get the win. Sophomore Mark Lacerenza (0-2) picked up his second loss of the season, going 3 1/3 and getting tagged for six runs, including a five-run fourth that did the Quakers in. Brian Burket pitched the final 3 2/3, allowing a run on two hits. Lacerenza ran into trouble with runners on second and third with one out. He issued four straight walks, bringing in three runs. Then, left fielder Tommy Merical doubled to drive in two more. Penn bounced back with three in the bottom of the fifth. The Quakers scored three after back-to-back doubles by Kevin McCabe and Oliver Hahl, an RBI single by Jeff Gregorio and a wild pitch. But although the Red and Blue had runners on second and third with one out, Ron Rolph struck out and Chris May flied to right to end the inning. Penn finished the weekend off strong, with an 18-6 pounding in yesterday's second game. Penn jumped on Mount St. Mary's starter Adam Byer early and often, building a 6-0 lead by the third inning. Designated hitter Jeff Gregorio, who had five home runs for the Quakers last year, got his first homer of the year the next inning. Gregorio, who bats cleanup, said he was relieved when he hit the three-run blast. "It felt good to get that one out of the way," said Gregorio, who leads the Quakers with 15 RBI. "I've been hitting the ball OK, but I really haven't been driving the ball that much." Mount St. Mary's first baseman Brian Thomas, who had two dingers of his own in the series finale, said Penn's six-run fourth took the wind out of the Mountaineers' sails. "The first three games we played real well, and then the last game I think we basically kind of quit," Thomas said. "A couple of errors and people just hung their heads." McCreery capped a great weekend with 5 1/3 innings of work to pick up his third win of the year. "He seems to have pretty good outings every time he goes out," Gregorio said. "I think it was 13-5 when he came out of the game, and he was still pissed off that he was not able to finish off the game. It's good to see that intensity. He wants the ball all the time." Penn coach Bob Seddon was pleased with the standout performances from his freshmen, but said that the few veterans on his young ballclub need to pick up their games. "You didn't count on those guys [the freshmen], and they're the ones who are really holding us [up]," Seddon said. "If we get the contribution from the other upperclassmen like we expect, if we get some pitching, we'll be a very good team. But until then, we're going to be back and forth."Comments powered by Disqus
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