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

The only thing that would have made Penn baseball’s home opener better would have been a win.

Despite a strong start, the Quakers lost to Temple, 11-9, in extra innings.

It was a beautiful day Wednesday, and the 11 innings were hard-fought and riveting. Despite messy pitching in later innings, the Red and Blue (3-6) never gave up. They seemed to outplay Temple (6-10) for most of the game, but the Owls fought back, scoring three runs in the eighth to tie the game at 7-7.

In the top of the 11th, Temple second baseman Foster Dunigan doubled with the bases loaded to bring in three runs, the decisive runs in the game.

“It’s been happening all year,” said junior Spencer Branigan, referring to the team’s sloppiness. The Quakers had two errors on the day, one of which came in extra innings.

The game can’t be completely characterized by errors, however. Before the game, Greg Zebrack emphasized that the Quakers played best when they struck first rather than playing from behind, and that’s just what they did yesterday.

Zebrack got Penn’s offense going in the first inning when he was hit by a pitch. Branigan singled, putting men on first and third.

Junior Ryan Deitrich stepped up and, on the fourth pitch, homered to left field. Senior Derek Vigoa proceeded to double, and sophomore Rick Brebner batted him in. By the end of the second inning, the Red and Blue had a 5-0 lead. The Quakers kept the lead for the next five innings, giving up just two runs before the seventh.

Freshman Connor Cuff pitched a solid five innings for Penn. He threw mostly hard fastballs and sliders and, though this style allowed Temple to hit several singles, Cuff prevented the Owls from getting into a rhythm. The ball left the infield once before the fifth inning.

At the top of the seventh inning, Temple scored two runs off a single, narrowing the score to 5-4.

Next up for the Quakers was freshman Matt McKinnon, who plopped the ball in between third base and left field, and ran hard to take two bases. Zebrack got out on a far line drive, and Branigan stepped to the plate.

“I knew we needed a few more runs,” Branigan said.

With two balls and no strikes, Temple’s Brian Sustersic threw a fastball away and Branigan struck at it, hitting the ball out of the park.

Up 7-4, the Quakers seemed to have a handle on the game. However, Temple senior Steve Nikorak hit a home run with two men on base in the top of the eighth to tie the game.

Penn couldn’t close out in its final two innings, and neither team scored until Temple got on the board with four runs in the top of the eleventh. The Quakers managed two in the bottom of the inning, but failed to make a complete comeback.

“I thought we were ready to go,” Branigan said. “We’ll just have to get back to work tomorrow.”

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