The Quakers will look to avenge their loss to Temple in this March's Liberty Bell Classic this afternoon. Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Unfortunately for the Penn baseball team -- which has lost 10 of its 13 games by two runs or less -- almost doesn't count in baseball. But today at Murphy Field at 3 p.m., the Quakers have a chance to get one of those close losses back. Penn (13-13) welcomes Temple (12-17-2) to the West Side, looking to avenge its heartbreaking 5-4 loss to the Owls in 10 innings at the Liberty Bell Classic on March 28. On a drizzly day at Veterans Stadium, the Quakers squandered a 4-1 lead and an excellent outing from sophomore Mike Mattern, as the Owls rallied to hand Penn its eighth consecutive loss at the Liberty Bell Classic. The Quakers appeared set to cruise to a victory when they tagged Temple starter Chris Joyce for two runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth. But Joyce and reliever Jeff Rugg stymied Penn's bats after the fifth, allowing just one hit -- Chris May's leadoff triple in the eighth inning. But Penn's bats have not been very quiet since. After the Temple game, the Quakers have averaged almost 12 hits a game, including an amazing 33-run, 27-hit outburst against La Salle. But the pitching staff has been another matter. Penn's relievers let the team down last weekend, as the Quakers dropped three of four games to Ivy rivals Dartmouth and Harvard to fall into a three-way tie for first place in the Ivy League's Gehrig Division. Cornell, Princeton and Penn all have 4-4 league records, while Columbia is one game back at 3-5. "Pitching had a rough weekend," said catcher Jeff Gregorio, who leads the Quakers with four home runs and 34 runs batted in. "We're swinging the bat well right now, so that's going to carry us along." Junior Brian Burket starts for the Quakers today. Burket, who is second on pitching coach Bill Wagner's staff with a 4.08 earned run average, has made six appearances in relief for Penn this season. "Brian is kind of a middle guy, but he'll throw strikes," Penn coach Bob Seddon said. "Temple swings the bat. We would love to have a left-handed pitcher for this game." Seddon expects up to four or five pitchers to see action in today's game, mostly ones who will not be depended on for extensive work this weekend, when Penn officially opens its new ballpark at Murphy Field with two doubleheaders against Cornell. Even though the midweek game does not have ramifications for the Quakers as far as postseason play is concerned, the Quakers insist they are not looking past Temple to the weekend series. "It's not an Ivy League game, but you still want to brush up," Gregorio said. "The last thing we want to do is fall below .500." Further spurring Penn is the bitter taste left by the 5-4 loss at the Vet. "We probably should have beat them the first time," Gregorio said. "That's one motivating factor that'll drive us to play better." While Seddon has his lineup mostly solidified, outfielder Jeremy McDowell and catcher Ralph Vasami will see action today. With freshman Andrew McCreery out sick earlier in the year, the senior McDowell made the most of his opportunity to play. McDowell leads the Quakers with a .444 batting average, and in 12 games he has 12 hits and 10 runs scored. The Quakers bench will be a little short today. Sophomore catcher Brian Fitzgerald and freshman standout Zach Hanan are both troubled by back problems. In 14 games, Hanan has managed a .378 batting average, second-best on the Quakers, and he leads the team with a .622 slugging percentage. May has been playing through a pulled groin, and freshman pitcher Kevin Wells' arm problems further stretch a struggling pitching staff.Comments powered by Disqus
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