Wednesday, the Penn baseball team hopes to have a little bit of recent history repeat itself against Villanova.
After taking two games from the Wildcats (5-12) in a strong campaign last season, the Quakers (8-6) are looking for more of the same this year after getting off to yet another hot start.
The Red and Blue have come together well in the early stages of the season, helping the team become more confident as they take on their non-conference foes.
Early in the schedule last year, Penn came away from Villanova with a 6-3 win and later finished the season series off well at Meiklejohn Stadium with an 11-4 victory.
In game one last year, Penn posted some late-game runs to push past the Wildcats. The Quakers showed no mercy in their second meeting, taking a 7-0 lead in the first four innings. Villanova did push across a few runs, but it was too little, too late.
The Quakers are looking to remain confident and fix the mistakes from this past weekend’s home split against George Washington.
“We are trying to isolate some things we’re not happy with,” coach John Cole said.
The team isn’t looking to make a statement in this contest, just to get better and polish its already solid game.
For sophomore starting catcher Austin Bossart, the keys to Wednesday’s game are to “not make errors, not give ‘em freebies and simplify the game.”
This past weekend, Villanova battled Marist in a cold doubleheader, resulting in a split. Josh Harris, the Wildcats’ sophomore starting pitcher, went the distance in the their victory, surrendering only four hits.
Due to differences in conference series — Villanova plays three games, and Penn plays four — a midweek game like this one is trickier for the Quakers to manage.
“We come out [of a series] with our pitching more taxed and we have to mix and match a little more, whereas they may be coming at us with a fourth starter,” Cole said.
But the Quakers don’t seem intimidated by their Big Five rivals.
“We’re not really worried about Villanova,” Cole said. “We are trying to clean up the mistakes from the weekend.”
Pitching has been one of the main factors for Penn’s early-season success.
“I’m confident in our pitching staff right now,” Bossart said, who has helped a young staff round into form from behind the plate.
“Our young guys are coming in and competing on the mound, the field and the plate. They’ve been handling situations really well.”
Cole is looking for continued improvement from his young pitchers, as the Red and Blue look to keep up their recent success.
“We try to win every midweek game, Ivy League, non-conference, you want to win the ball game,” he said. “We are playing pretty well, but we have some holes we are looking to fix up.”
This resonates with all of the Quakers. Despite their play, they are looking to improve in all facets of the game. This weekend the Red and the Blue gave up four errors and committed mistakes the team wants to avoid in the future. Cole noted they are trying to get better with every practice and game, midweek or not.
“We played ‘em well last year,” Cole said. “But it will be a dogfight.”
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