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Baseball v. Temple Softball v. St. Joseph Credit: Patrick Hulce , Patrick Hulce, Patrick Hulce

For the Penn and Lafayette baseball teams, the start to their respective conference seasons is just over a week away.

That said, the likely goal for both squads this weekend, as they play a set of home-and-home doubleheaders against one another, will be to make some final tweaks and round into form.

More specifically, Penn coach John Cole explained that “both teams are trying to figure out their rotations” for the all-important opening games of conference play.

The weather, however, could be a factor. Saturday’s twinbill at Meiklejohn Stadium has already been pushed up to 10:30 a.m. from its original noon start time due to the forecast of rain. A potentially postponed weekend of games would certainly affect who Cole would pitch in the team’s game this Wednesday against Villanova and during the following weekend.

Nevertheless, the Quakers will enter this slate of games looking to improve on the mound. They did, however, receive a standout performance from freshman Connor Cuff just two days ago in a win over the Wildcats.

After not having pitched since March 8, the 6-foot-4 righty came out of the bullpen for the first time this season, entering in the bottom of the sixth inning with the game tied at two. Cuff allowed just one run over the final four innings, striking out eight and earning the ‘W’ in the eventual 6-3 victory.

Given his workload on Wednesday, Cuff does not expect to throw this weekend, although he says he could see a few innings in a Sunday game.

But after his last few performances, Cuff will certainly be a tempting option for Cole.

“Connor’s got four-pitch stuff,” he explained. “He’s a very good competitor and he’s only going to get better.”

Meanwhile, Lafayette’s pitching staff could use some sorting out, but it appears to be solidified at the top, thanks to the breakout performance of junior Derek Gussaroff.

The righty had just 10 total innings pitched to his name over his first two seasons, but he has been downright stingy in six appearances this year. Over 19.1 innings, he has posted a 1.86 ERA and opponents are hitting just .169 against him.

Cole is unsure if and when Gussaroff will get the nod this weekend, but he is much more concerned about his own staff making improvements, especially when it comes to limiting bases on balls.

Red and Blue pitchers have walked 21 batters in the last 22 innings and cannot allow that streak to become a trend.

Cuff agreed with his coach’s assessment and believes it all comes down to just relaxing on the mound. If he and his staff mates can do that, and build upon Wednesday’s game — which Cuff claimed to be the first game that the offense and defense seemed to be clicking in unison — the Red and Blue will have just the right momentum heading into Ivy play.

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