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Baseball vs. St Joes Credit: Pete Lodato

In the top of the fourth inning at the Liberty Bell Classic, the Penn baseball team began putting on a hitting clinic for the crowd at Meiklejohn Stadium.

With the heart of the lineup leading off that inning, the Quakers scored nine runs on eight hits against St. Joseph’s to blow open Penn’s first game of the annual tournament.

From that point on, the Quakers could have been on cruise control. However, the Red and Blue kept their foot on the gas, ultimately topping the Hawks in a 16-4 drubbing.

The big inning came after Penn (9-9) had been blanked in the first three by Hawks pitcher Matt Barnathan.

But things turned south quickly for the right-handed hurler.

Penn first baseman William Gordon smoked a triple to left field on Barnathan’s first pitch of the inning. Catcher Mike Mariano followed by smacking a double to left center that brought Gordon in.

And so the rally began. With a flick of the wrist, senior Tom Grandieri then went deep for his second home run of the season.

But it wasn’t just the long ball that was working for the Red and Blue that inning.

Junior Jeremy Maas followed up Grandieri’s two-run shot, beating out a single on a ball that was grounded to the shortstop.

And after a pitching change for the Hawks (6-12), sophomore Derek Vigoa successfully laid down a bunt, a move which appeared to take the Hawks off-guard.

“Especially in that situation, where we’re banging balls and they’re a little bit out of the game, it’s good to get that small ball going,” Vigoa said.

Coach John Cole was pleased with the way Vigoa and the rest of the team were able to mix it up and keep the Hawks’ pitchers uncomfortable.

“I think we did a good job of creating pressure,” Cole said. “We ran the bases well, which got our hitters some good pitches.”

The Red and Blue tacked on two runs in the fifth, four runs in the sixth and one more in the seventh en route to a 16-run output, their highest of the season.

And yet, despite the offensive barrage, Vigoa — who went 3-for-4 with two runs scored — felt that the team wasn’t just free-swinging.

“The guys that hit the ball weren’t up there swinging out of their shoes,” he said. “They were up there with a plan.”

That plan worked to perfection, as the Quakers exhibited an offensive showing that gave Cole something to smile about.

“That’s one of the better offensive performances we’ve had this year,” he said. “Hopefully, we’re getting hot.”

One player who looks to be heating up at the plate is senior second baseman Steve Gable.

Hitting out of the nine spot, Gable has now tallied seven runs batted in and four runs scored over his last two games. Before that stretch, he had just one RBI and two runs scored on the season.

“I try not to look at the stat sheet a whole lot,” Gable said.

Additionally, on a day when Penn’s offense was the big story, the Quakers pitching staff quietly put together a solid game.

Freshman John Beasley earned his first career win after tossing three scoreless innings. And after sophomore Mike Zuppe gave up three runs in two innings, Kirk Hayes, Kyle Olson and Trey Jennings pieced together the remaining four to secure the win.

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