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Men's Baseball vs. Princeton (+ Memorial, sort of) Credit: Dan Getelman , Dan Getelman

Flowers are blooming, the mercury is rising to seventy, and Zack Rosen will soon be hanging up his jersey. And finally, the day has come for our national pastime.

The Penn baseball squad will take the field at Mieklejohn Stadium this afternoon for a home opener against Temple.

Neither team has yet to hit top gear. The Quakers, who played eight games in Florida over spring break, are 3-5, and have been blown out by at least seven runs in four of their losses.

Penn coaches have been tinkering with the starting lineup, as three separate players have been used as cleanup.

“They’re like us — any northeast team trying to find its way early in the year, trying to figure out who needs to play where,” coach John Cole said of the Owls, who are 5-10 on the year. “Both teams are in a very similar situation.”

Freshman Connor Cuff will take the mound for the Red and Blue. It will be his third start of the year.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in Connor,” said Cole. “He’s throwing well.”

So far this year, the rookie is 0-1 with a 4.91 earned run average. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound right-hander gave up four earned runs in five innings in his last outing against Western Michigan.

“Our strengths are our starting pitching and our speed,” said Cole. “[But] our defense is our weakness. We need to tighten things up defensively.”

The Quakers are averaging over three errors a game, a trend they can ill afford to continue as they prepare for the Ivy season.

Junior Greg Zebrack will be batting cleanup. At .398, he has the third highest batting average on the team.

“We gotta come out ready [to] play,” said Zebrack, explaining that the Quakers won games in Florida when they scored early.

“When we take the first punch rather than delivering the first punch, that’s when we get in trouble.”

Last year, Zebrack batted .336 and led the team with 35 runs, four more than any of his other teammates. He says that, as a junior he believes his role has grown.

“I view myself as a leader,” he said. “Sometimes you gotta take the pressure off yourself and, as an older guy, look out after the younger guys.”

Zebrack chose not to make any specific predictions for the Temple game.

“I think we’re gonna have a good game,” he said, “we’re gonna be ready to go, and we’ll see what happens.”

“How about a shutout, no-hitter, 11-0?” Cole joked.

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