Will Davis knew he was hitting poorly, but he didn’t want to know how poorly. So he stopped checking his stats. He reworked his swing. Then he just kept on hacking until the hits started falling.
The reigning Big 5 Player of the Week asked to not have his own numbers posted for fear of having to look at them, but it’s likely he’d be perfectly fine reading a much more relevant statistic: a 4-0 Ivy League record after sweeping both Harvard and Dartmouth in two weekend doubleheaders.
With Penn down, 10-8, in the bottom of the sixth inning in the weekend’s final contest, Davis came up to bat with two on and two out. The catcher and captain promptly deposited a firstpitch changeup over the right-field fence. The shot gave the Quakers the lead and proved to be the difference in achieving the weekend sweep.
“In my previous at bat against that same pitcher, he threw me two straight changeups, and I popped the ball up and felt pretty stupid,” Davis said. “So I figured he was probably going to start me off with a changeup again, and I was able to wait just enough … I was pretty happy about that.”
The bomb was one of five for a Quakers lineup that has begun to establish itself over the past few weeks.
“We’re starting to drive balls, and our seniors are starting to step up,” coach John Cole said.
The pitching was just as vital to Penn’s success during the opening of Ivy League play. Both Paul Cusick and Vince Voiro did yeoman’s work by tossing complete games in the opener of each doubleheader. The two yielded just three runs combined.
“I had good run on my fastball today, and I felt comfortable with it,” Voiro said after holding reigning Ivy champion Dartmouth to three hits. “It’s a good team that we played today, so to take two games, that was important for us.”
Voiro dueled Dartmouth’s ace Kyle Hendricks, a Major League prospect who attracted a handful of pro scouts to Mieiklejohn Field.
“Hendricks is a draft pick,” Cole said. “I thought Voiro outpitched him.”
The phenomenal starting pitching helped to keep Cole’s bullpen fresh, which was especially important for the two matinee performances in which the other Penn starters got knocked around.
In both late afternoon games, the Quakers staked themselves to early six-run leads only to surrender it all back through less dominant pitching and especially shoddy defensive play. The Quakers committed six errors in the Harvard finale and four more in the final Dartmouth game.
“Our defense was just atrocious,” Cole said. “I think it was trying to get the game over too soon. All of a sudden we started making mistakes, and then it steamrolled.”
But the Quakers kept fighting in each game and were able to pull out victories. Penn won the second Harvard game in walk-off fashion, as Spencer Branigan’s sacrifice fly secured the victory in the 12th inning. Davis’ blast on Sunday, followed by a Jeremy Maas home run, helped Penn pull out the 14-10 win over the Big Green.
“The sign of a good team is when you don’t play perfect, and you still find a way to win,” Cole said after the final game.
As Davis learned, perfection is harder than it looks. Sometimes it’s best to just keep on hacking.Comments powered by Disqus
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