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Baseball vs. Princeton - DH Vigoa, Derek

Though its offensive lineup features just three seniors, the Penn baseball team is far more experienced than the players’ ages reveal.

Coach John Cole will return nine offensive players that had significant starting roles last season in addition to all but one member of his pitching staff.

Star seniors Tom Grandieri and William Gordon, who led the team in batting average and home runs last season, respectively, will return to the field, as will senior Todd Roth, who looks to anchor the pitching staff.

While the seniors will provide veteran leadership, the sophomore class boasts experience of its own.

Sophomore Derek Vigoa — the reigning Big 5 Rookie of the Year — started in all 41 games last season.

In addition, five of the 14 hurlers who saw action during this season’s opening road trip were sophomores. With one transition year already under his young pitchers’ belts, Cole is looking for them to make a leap from their rookie seasons.

“That’s going to be no secret to our success,” Cole said. “We gotta have guys step up … and you look for that improvement, especially a big jump from freshman to sophomore year.”

Sophomore pitchers Vince Voiro and Chris McNulty will be among those counted on to make that “jump.” Though both posted earned run averages in the mid-sixes last season, the duo has shown promise thus far.

“[They’ve had] very good command … they’re not walking people … and they’re only going to get better,” Cole said.

And though many of the faces on the diamond this season may be the same, the Red and Blue are hoping for a better outcome this time around — the Quakers finished just 17-24 last year and held a 5-15 conference record.

Their Ivy performance placed them last in the Gehrig Division, which constitutes the Quakers, Princeton, Cornell and Columbia.

Penn also placed fifth in the Ivy League with a 6.74 ERA and coughed up a league-leading 77 errors, 14 more than the next highest total (shared by Harvard and Princeton).

While the miscues on the field may have exposed some of the inexperience of the team, Cole thinks the team had other issues as well.

“We didn’t pitch really well as a staff last year,” Cole said. “We were injured … [and] we lost a lot of games late.”

And yet, despite Penn’s struggles as a team, some individuals put up near-historic numbers in the ’09 campaign and will be looking to duplicate their successes.

Grandieri hit 19 doubles, which was just two shy of tying a school record. Vigoa was right behind him, with 18.

Gordon, meanwhile, belted 10 homers during his junior season — a single-season total that tied him for third-place in school history.

On the mound, Roth will be looking to rebound from a somewhat down year. After posting 1.98 and 2.32 ERAs in his first two seasons, respectively, Roth went just 2-2 last season with an ERA of 7.26.

For the Quakers to make noise in the Ivy League, improved pitching all-around and continued offensive success appear to be the keys.

Their two toughest Ivy foes will be Cornell — picked by Baseball America to win the Gehrig Division — and Dartmouth.

The two teams duked it out last year for the Ivy championship, with the Big Green takng two of three to secure the crown.

If the Quakers want a shot at a title of their own, they will have to bounce back quickly from their season-opening road trip, when they went just 2-5.

“It’s such a short season, that you gotta get off to a good start or else you get behind the eight ball quickly,” Cole said.

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