For senior outfielder Tom Grandieri, there is much more riding on today’s matchup with Villanova than a five-game winning streak.
In addition to the prospect of tying Penn’s longest streak since 2006-07 comes something perhaps more important for the Media, Pa., native: bragging rights.
The game will represent the third and final chance Grandieri has to best the team he left to attend Penn.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound outfielder played his freshman season for the Wildcats (14-3) but he transferred at the end of the year. He made an immediate impact for the Quakers (7-5) in his sophomore season, hitting .305 in 37 games.
But when Penn faced the Wildcats that season, the results weren’t pretty.
The then-sophomore went 0-for-4 at bat and gave up five earned runs in one inning of relief. The result was a 16-2 shellacking at the hands of the Wildcats.
Grandieri recovered from that performance the following year, when he went 2-for-5 with one run scored. The Quakers would secure a 10-5 victory.
“Two years ago, it was … pretty bad to be honest,” he said. “And then last year, it was nice to get one back on ‘em.”
Today’s game will be a rubber match of sorts, something the senior is looking forward to in his final season.
“Personally ... I’d love to do well, but if we can get a win that would be nice,” Grandieri said. “Get the 2-1 series favor in my way, so I could go out on top.”
Tough Grandieri admits there are “no hard feelings” between him and his old club, he will still be looking to showcase the offensive tools he has acquired.
Last year, Grandieri had a breakout season. He led the team in runs scored and doubles, all while sporting a team-high .357 batting average. His 19 single-season doubles left him just two shy of a school record.
That production may not have been possible for him as a Wildcat.
At Villanova, Grandieri felt he was being groomed as a left-handed pitcher out of the bullpen — a spot where he would not get the chance to shine at the plate.
And he was right. Villanova coach Joe Godri said that while he liked Grandieri as an offensive player and would have found him a place in the lineup, his main job would have been relief.
“I think Tom would have more of a predominant role for us as a pitcher,” he said.
That prospect alone was one of the major reasons why Grandieri decided to transfer.
“Here I’ve had the opportunity to become more of a complete offensive player, whereas … at Villanova I probably would have been just another arm,” he said.
Though Penn coach John Cole did utilize Grandieri as a reliever in some instances, the issue of where Grandieri fits in has fallen by the wayside as a result of this year’s deeper pitching staff.
“We just decided to let Tommy work on one facet of the game,” Cole said. “It was hard for him to be pulled in two different directions last year.”
With Grandieri focusing on offense this year, he’ll look to prove to his former teammates just how far he’s come at the plate.Comments powered by Disqus
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