The only Italian word the Penn baseball team needs to know is vittoria. The Quakers had a successful trip to Italy in late May and early June, going 5-1-1 on the continent. Former Quakers catcher Jeff Gregorio did not need an interpreter to figure out San Marino Expos pitching. The Penn leader in home runs and runs batted in, who graduated in May, hit a three-run shot, highlighting a five-run third inning. But the Expos tagged starter Ben Krantz for five runs, and added another off Mike Mattern to force a 6-6 tie. The game was called after eight innings due to dipping temperatures. The next day the Quakers got back on track, as Bill Collins and Chris May propelled Penn past Goda in a 10-3 triumph. Collins went 2-for-3 with a double and three runs batted in, and May chipped in another RBI. Paul Grumet -- who as a freshman led the Quakers staff with a 1.38 earned run average -- rendered Goda's bats silenzioso, allowing one run in three innings of work. Mark Lacerenza came on in relief, giving up two runs on three hits. He struck out four in four innings of work. Penn ended its Italian voyage with a game against a third-tier opponent, the Rimini Torreos. Gregorio pounded three homers, getting six RBIs on the day, and Andrew McCreery hit a grand slam in the second inning as the Quakers rolled, 18-0. Ron Rolph and pitcher Dan Fitzgerald also added dingers for Penn. After scoring 14 runs in the first two innings against the overmatched club, Penn coach Bob Seddon made adjustments accordingly, letting his pitchers handle much of the batting duties in the last few innings. Gregorio, after four years as a catcher at Penn, saw his first action at center field, while regular center fielder Kevin McCabe got to pitch an inning. In his first outing since high school, McCabe fared well, retiring the side in order. Ben Otero, who went 3-3 for the Quakers as a freshman, was molto buono against Rimini. He threw six strikeouts in two innings against the Torreos. The 18-0 win was not the only thing that impressed Seddon about Rimini. "What a beach!" Seddon said. "You have to see it to believe it. There are no beaches here like that." Seddon said that the seven-game schedule at times got a bit hectic. The team would often go straight from sightseeing to the ballpark. But the Quakers spent the final two days of the trip resting and relaxing in Switzerland. Penn's only loss on the trip came at Nettuno, which leads Italy's top baseball division. Overall, though, Seddon said that the state of baseball is still fledgling in Europe. "It really hasn't improved a lot [since the 1970s]," Seddon said. "You don't see a lot of baseball fields, but the fields you see are really nice." While the purpose of the trip was not exactly competitive, Seddon did get a chance to look at players in different positions for next season. Seddon made frequent substitutions so that everyone got equal time on the field. The Quakers were happy to pick up five wins in Italy, but were happier about the food. "We ate at all the top restaurants," Seddon said. The games took on the feel of a friendly international meeting, with teams trading hats and eating together afterward. Twice the Quakers had to lend pitchers to their opponents. "We were there to play baseball, but we were also there to have fun," Gregorio said. "It was great to play [while] nice and relaxed.Comments powered by Disqus
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