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Baseball vs Lafayette - Tom Grandieri scoring Credit: Dan Getelman

There is an old baseball axiom that claims pitching wins championships.

It’s unclear, however, how many championships can be won with the way the Penn defense played behind its pitchers this weekend.

The Quakers hosted a two-game series with Lafayette Saturday — losing both contests due to several defensive miscues — and then split a second doubleheader Sunday as the team ventured north to Easton, Pa.

“I thought we had a chance to win all four games, but we just didn’t play defense,” Penn coach John Cole said.

The Quakers (8-9) were plagued by sloppy glovework, compiling nine errors over the four-game span.

Perhaps the most indicative game of the series was early Sunday, when the Red and Blue blew an 8-4 lead in the 5th inning. They surrendered five runs to Lafayette (3-12) via three errors, resulting in a crushing 9-8 defeat. The Quakers committed six errors in the contest.

The mistakes undid a solid outing from starter Paul Cusick, who yielded just one earned run in 4.2 innings pitched.

“Paul Cusick pitched a pretty good game, and the score really didn’t reflect on how he threw,” Cole said. ”It was a lot of routine plays. A lot of double play balls [we messed up]. We gave them about three extra innings of outs, which you just can’t do.”

The Quakers were also hampered by their lack of timely hitting. Over the first two games, they stranded 15 runners, while the lineup averaged just three runs a game. Not a single player recorded a multi-hit performance in either game on Saturday.

The bats did heat up halfway through Sunday, however, as the squad mustered eight runs in their first defeat, then posted 14 runs to take the final game of the series.

Leading the charge Sunday was rightfielder Tom Grandieri. In the first game, the senior catalyzed a second inning rally with a one-out RBI single, and he then belted a two-run shot in the fifth off Lafayette reliever Ian Dickson for good measure. Grandieri added three more runs of his own in the second game.

“Hitting is contagious. It’s kind of a monkey-see monkey-do,” Cole said. “We need our upperclassmen to show us the way, and when they start swinging, it opens up things for the younger guys. [But we] definitely need to tighten things up and improve our offensive production.”

One bright spot for the Quakers was the solid pitching throughout the weekend. Both Vince Voiro and Chris McNulty went the distance in their starts, yielding a mere three earned runs over their combined 16 innings pitched.

“We need to be much more consistent if we’re going to be a good team,” Cole said.

As indicated by its performance this weekend, its clear that if an Ivy League championship is in the cards for the Quakers, the team will need to do far more than just pitch.

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