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Penn senior catcher Billy Collins, who maintained a batting average of .308 last season, sat yesterday's game out. Freshman Brian Winings took his place. [Theodore Schweitz/DP File Photo]

The Penn baseball team went to Lafayette yesterday, hoping to correct the problems that dealt the Quakers seven losses out of 10 games in Florida.

They didn't. Penn again struggled in the field, again left some men on base and again surrendered a whole lot of runs in losing to the Leopards, 13-5, at a windy Metzgar Field.

"It's frustrating," said rightfielder Bryan Graves, who was one of three Quakers to commit an error. "We're making the same mistakes. We're getting hits, but not at key times. At clutch moments, we find a way to screw up."

The Quakers (3-8) actually outhit the Leopards, 14-12, yesterday, but left 12 men on base. Three of those stranded runners came in the seventh inning when Andrew McCreery flied out with the bases loaded as the Quakers were trying to crawl back into the game. Lafayette (7-4) stranded just five runners.

"We left a ton of guys on base," Penn coach Bob Seddon said. "Fourteen hits in a 13-5 loss. How's that one?"

That certainly was a tough pill to swallow, but the real backbreaker came in the eighth inning. Penn scored two runs in the seventh and another one in the eighth to cut the Lafayette lead to 5-4.

And that's when everything fell apart. The Leopards sent 12 batters to the plate in the bottom of the eighth, registered seven hits and with the help of a Graves error and a hit batsman, scored eight runs to break the game wide open.

"We got into trouble and then the floodgates opened," Graves said. "They hit the ball well and we made a few mistakes."

McCreery, the starter, got knocked out of the game in that inning after 114 pitches. Sophomore reliever Russ Brocato could not stop the bleeding, surrendering three hits and two unearned runs before finally forcing a Russ Giglio groundout to end the inning.

McCreery got the blunt of the damage. After giving up just four hits in the first seven innings, his final line read like this: 7.1 innings pitched, nine hits, three walks and nine earned runs. Seddon, however, thought that Penn's ace got a raw deal.

"Andrew deserved a better fate," the Quakers' head man said. "I wasn't disappointed with his outing."

What did disappoint Seddon, however, was the play of Penn's defense. With a trio of miscues yesterday, the Quakers have now committed 29 errors on the season.

"We hurt ourselves with our fielding," Seddon said. "The ball found the wrong spots today."

Part of the reason for that was the confusion the wind created, which is typical of Lafayette's Metzgar Field.

"The wind was blowing out like crazy," Graves said. "The outfield was tough today. We played them real deep and in the gaps, and balls still got to the fence."

Penn's hitters also got a little help from the wind. Junior shortstop Steve Glass and sophomore first baseman Mike Goldblatt both went deep for the Quakers. Those two were the Red and Blue's hitting heroes on the afternoon, contributing eight of Penn's 14 hits.

But if the Quakers hope to better their 3-8 record, they understand they must combine good hitting with good pitching and defense, a combination they have not been able to find thus far into the season.

This weekend Penn continues the nonconference portion of its schedule with home doubleheaders against Lehigh and Hartford, two teams that are quite similar to Lafayette.

Against Lehigh on Saturday, Penn is sending Paul Grumet and Marc Lacerenza to the hill. Russ Brocato and Dan Fitzgerald get the call against Hartford on Sunday.

Seddon is calling these contests "momentum games" and "confidence-builders" before the crucial Ivy League season begins.

Graves hopes these early-season games will help get all the kinks out of the system.

"There's nothing secret about it -- we all know what we need to be doing," the Quakers' rightfielder said. "We talk about it and we practice it. Now it's time to do it."

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