As soon as La Salle right-hander Chris Hughes' first-pitch fastball made contact with Chris May's bat yesterday afternoon, there was no doubt where it was going. The only question was whether it was going to hit a car. Even though it's only 305 feet to the left field fence at La Salle's Hank DeVincent Field, a few daring souls do park in the lot just beyond the short porch. Luckily for them, the Penn right fielder's screaming shot out of the ballyard landed short of the vehicles. The solo home run to lead off the top of the ninth inning did smash any hope that lingered in the hearts of the Explorers, however, and gave Penn its 10th run of the day. "I haven't been seeing too many first-pitch fastballs lately," said May, who went 4-for-5 at the plate yesterday. "It looked like a beachball coming in." Yesterday's 10-3 victory upped Penn's season record to 16-9 and dropped La Salle's mark to 8-18. The Quakers were bestial at the plate against their Philly rivals, notching a total of 16 base hits on the day. Half of them came off the bat of either May or backup catcher Billy Collins. Collins was also 4-for-5. In the second inning, the junior doubled home first baseman Ron Rolph. He added a pair of singles in the fifth and sixth before whacking a long triple over the head of the La Salle center fielder Kyle Williams to drive home two more in the eighth. "I'm feeling better," Collins said. "I struggled a bit over the weekend. I worked on a few things with [assistant coach Kevin] O'Connor, staying back and some other things, and it paid off today." At the other half of the battery, senior pitcher Matt Hepler got the win for the Red and Blue. It was his fourth victory of the season. Hepler, who pitched the fourth, fifth and sixth innings for Penn, yielded two of La Salle's runs, but his stuff was good enough to pitch him out of bigger trouble. For one thing, Hepler placed his pitches well, doing an especially good job of painting the inside corner. More importantly, though, Hepler's off-speed stuff began to heat up as his three innings on the hill progressed. In the sixth, when he gave up the two runs, Hepler minimized the damage by striking out two Explorers on hard-biting breaking balls. "His curveball definitely started working the third inning he was out there," Penn pitching coach Bill Wagner said. Hepler had four strikeouts in three innings yesterday, as opposed to six K's in his previous 19 innings of work. "This is the first game where I was able to strike out guys when I needed it," Hepler said. Penn left-hander Paul Grumet started the game for the Quakers and hurled three innings of scoreless baseball. Matt Winn relieved Hepler and held the Explorers scoreless through the seventh and eight before handing the ball off to closer Nick Barnhorst. Barnhorst gave up a run in the ninth, but safely shut the door on the Explorers. To build the lead that propelled them to victory, the Quakers relied on a pair of three-run innings. In the fifth, five hits put three up on the scoreboard for Penn. Nick Italiano, who went 3-for-4 with a walk on the afternoon, doubled a run homeward to start the mini-onslaught. The eighth saw runs come in on the Collins triple and on an Italiano single. Freshman Bryan Graves also had one of his two hits in the penultimate inning.Comments powered by Disqus
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