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Penn senior pitcher Matt Hepler will take the mound in the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader against West Chester at Murphy Field. (Stefan Miltchev/DP File Photo)

There might be a bright side to the chilly showers of early spring -- but not for a college baseball team. While March and April might ensure that greens stay lush well into the summer, they do nothing but deprive a team of chances to log much-needed innings on the field. Forecasters are predicting rain for at least part of this weekend, but coach Bob Seddon doesn't want to hear it. The wet stuff prevented the Quakers (6-3) from playing UMBC on Wednesday, and he knows that Penn needs to get back in action after wrapping up a nine-game Florida swing on St. Patrick's Day. "I think the field will let us play all four games this weekend," Seddon said as his team practiced indoors yesterday. "We lost one game to rain, and we really just need to get out and play." The Red and Blue are scheduled to play a pair of doubleheaders this weekend, against West Chester on Saturday and Lehigh on Sunday. Both double-dips get under way at noon at the Penn Baseball Stadium at Murphy Field. The Division II Golden Rams, under the tutelage of first-year head man and former Drexel assistant Chris Calciano, are 9-9-1 on the year. "For many years West Chester had a very good baseball tradition, then they hit on hard times," Seddon said. "With Chris, they're going to start turning things around, and you can already see that." Having played a full 10 games more than the Quakers, the Golden Rams have shown definite signs of improvement from their 11-38 season in 2000. West Chester is hitting for a .281 team average, while its pitching staff is doing what it needs to keep them in games. Towering senior right-hander Steve Ulmer has been especially impressive this spring. The 6'9" pitcher is 3-1 with a team-low 2.89 ERA and a 2.33 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. The Engineers from Bethlehem, Pa., will make the trip south to the banks of the Schuylkill sporting an uninspiring record of 3-7. The only opponent that Lehigh and Penn have both played this season is Northern Illinois. The Huskies beat the Engineers, 12-5, and lost to the Quakers, 6-1. That said, Lehigh, which beat Penn 5-4 last year, seems to always manage to give the Quakers a run for their money. The Engineers also have 2000 Division I batting champion Pat Hollander returning to the lineup. The senior All-American, who hit an eye-popping .486 last season, is batting a much more human .280 this season. But he will still be a concern for the Penn pitching staff. With Harvard and Dartmouth, the teams that he considers tops in the Ivy League, looming on the schedule just one week away, Penn pitching coach Bill Wagner hopes his staff will get a chance to exercise its arms this weekend. "We didn't get enough work down in Florida, so we definitely want to get all the games in," Wagner said. "There just weren't enough games to play. We were going to try to pitch some different people [against UMBC]." Although Wagner planned to try new things on Wednesday, he'll send four experienced starters to the mound this weekend. Junior Mike Mattern will get the nod in the first game on Saturday, while senior Matt Hepler will take the nightcap. On Sunday, sophomore Andrew McCreery will start things off, and Ben Krantz will take the hill for the second game. Senior Nick Barnhorst, who has more saves (four) thus far this season than any other Ivy League team has wins, will look to resume his role of closer at home this weekend.

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