For the Penn baseball team, the closing weekend of the 2001 season was as bittersweet as the entire season. The Quakers wrapped up their first winning campaign since 1996 with a 22-18 overall record, but they closed out the Ivy League season 8-12, one game worse than a year ago. The Red and Blue split a pair of games with Columbia (18-26, 10-10 Ivy League) in New York on Saturday, then halved another twin bill with the Lions on Sunday at Murphy Field. Near the banks of the Harlem at Andy Coakley Field, the matinee was a pitcher's duel between Columbia's Adam Schwartz and Penn right-hander Dan Fitzgerald, both of whom pitched the full seven innings. This complete game marked the third of the year for Fitzgerald since he took on the role of weekend starter. The Lions jumped out to an early lead, posting a pair of runs in the first inning -- one earned and one unearned -- but that was all the offense they could muster in the early game. The Red and Blue evened things up at two in the second inning on four base hits. The score stayed that way until the sixth inning, when the Quakers got the go-ahead run. Penn third baseman Oliver Hahl belted a double to advance Nick Italiano to third. The second baseman would cross the plate with the decisive run on the next play when Andrew Pisano, Columbia's man at the hot corner, mishandled a grounder. During the nightcap in New York, the Quakers managed to piece together eight hits, but runs were scarce, as the Lions won going away, 7-2. "We didn't hit the ball at all," Penn senior Chris May said. "They really shut us down." Brian Doveala went the distance for the Lions, striking out eight on the afternoon. When the scene shifted to Murphy Field for Sunday's doubleheader, Penn had to be confident with ace Andrew McCreery going to the hill. But McCreery was pounded early, giving up six runs in the first inning on the way to his only Ivy League loss of the season. McCreery's final line was ugly -- over four and two-thirds innings, he gave up all 11 Columbia runs on 13 hits, including a monster shot by Columbia designated hitter Nick Solaro that hit the scoreboard. He walked two and struck out three. Only six of the runs were earned, but by the time the sophomore starter left the mound, Penn trailed, 11-1. Then, however, the comeback was on. Matt Hepler pitched two and a third solid innings of shutout relief and Penn's bats came alive. With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, McCreery, still in the game as the DH, tripled home Italiano. Then May extended his single-season RBI record with a double that brought home McCreery. Still, with two innings to play in the seven-inning game, Penn trailed by eight. It would take a miracle for the Quakers to defeat the Lions. And a miracle is what they very nearly got. With five runs already home in the bottom of the seventh, Penn shortstop Steve Glass stepped to the plate with runners on first and third. He was the tying run at the plate, but had not hit a home run all season. He hit a fly ball deep to right field that drew his teammates out of the dugout, but it was foul. Glass then flied out to end the game. The second game was another story, as Penn jumped out to a 4-0 lead behind starter Ben Krantz and never trailed in an 8-3 win. Krantz ended his season solidly, with six innings of work in which he scattered seven hits and three runs, striking out three. "We wanted to go out with a bang," May said. They did, and he did. May became just the second man in Quakers history to hit 10 homers in a season when he thumped a Brian McKittish offering to dead center field for a long two-run bomb in the fifth. Another senior making his final appearance on Sunday was closer Nick Barnhorst, who sandwiched a ninth-inning walk between three strikeouts to wrap up a season in which he set the Penn single-season record for saves. "I struck him out with four sliders yesterday," said Barnhorst, who is also a Daily Pennsylvanian sports writer. "It's a good way to go out.. I'm happy personally."Comments powered by Disqus
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