Though the month of April started off with a bang for the Quakers baseball team, the last two weeks have proved far less favorable as the bats have slowed and the pitching has waned.
Untimely hitting hurt Penn once again on Wednesday, as the Quakers fell, 6-5, to the Lehigh Mountain Hawks in Bethlehem, Pa.
Penn (16-16, 7-5 Ivy) rallied for two runs in the ninth inning before freshman Brendan Engelhardt flied out to end the contest. The Quakers had runners at second and third on three separate occasions and had just one run to show for it.
“We’ve got to drive the ball with guys in scoring position,” Penn coach John Cole said. “We can’t just get a ground out and get one run.”
With 11 hits, the Red and Blue left 10 runners on base against Lehigh (22-15). When asked what the Quakers needed to do to close out the win, senior Jeremy Maas kept it simple.
“Mash home runs,” said the leftfielder, who went 1-for-3 with a run on the day.
The key to winning a ballgame when the lineup isn’t putting up runs is for the pitching staff to keep the ball down and avoid the big inning. However, starting pitcher Matt Gotschall yielded five runs in the third inning — despite not giving up any walks — a deficit from which the team would never recover. Gotschall was yanked before finishing off the inning.
“He pitched very well for two innings,” Cole said. “Then he had some balls up [in the strike zone in the third] and they made him pay.”
Though pitchers Pat Brennan, Alex Ott and Chris McNulty threw admirably in 5.1 innings of relief to keep the score close the rest of the way, the gap was simply too large to overcome.
“We’re still not hitting the ball as we should and it’s catching up with us,” Cole said. “Our last five losses have been two runs or less … You’ve got to win one of those.”
While many may be watching senior Dan Williams go for Penn’s all-time hit record this weekend against Cornell — the third basemen is currently two short of the 194 hit mark — the series carries serious playoff implications for the Red and Blue’s season.
The Quakers remain two games back of the division leading Princeton Tigers (15-16, 9-3 Ivy), and play their four-game series this weekend in Ithaca, NY.
This is the wrong time for the Quakers to hit a slump, as they have just two more weekend matchups to make up ground on the rival Tigers.
“We’ve got to get it right up there,” Cole said of the trip to Ithaca. “This is it for us, we’ve got to get it done or it’s not going to happen.”
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