After Penn baseball dropped three out of four games in last weekend’s series against Princeton, coach John Cole said the team really needed to get the offense going.
With a four-run first inning at Lehigh, it looks like the men listened.
“We had a really good practice yesterday,” Cole said. “All week, we were saying we gotta get the lead. We gotta come out ready to play.
“We did a good job swinging the bats today.”
That may be an understatement.
By the end of the fourth, Penn had burst the game wide open with a 9-0 lead over a seemingly helpless Lehigh squad, finishing with a 13-2 victory.
The Quakers (21-14) took the wind out of the Mountain Hawks’ sails early. A 4-0 lead gave junior Cody Thomson — the game’s winning pitcher — a cushion over the Mountain Hawks (18-20) before he even took the mound.
And Thomson used that cushion to fuel him for six innings, as he gave up only two runs and six hits while striking out four.
“Any time the offense can go out and score early, it gives pitchers a lot of confidence just to go out there, throw strikes and let the defense do all the work for them,” Thomson said.
He added that the four-run cushion helped him “stay relaxed” throughout the game.
Junior infielder Rick Brebner had a monster game at the plate, crushing a two-run home run in the fourth and following it up with another during his next at-bat in the fifth. He finished the game 4-for-5 with five RBIs.
“I think overall I was just seeing the ball pretty well today. I was trying to sit back, let the ball come to me instead of being too anxious up there,” Brebner said. “[I was] just looking for fastballs, balls I could drive, and fortunately I got some and jumped on them.”
Penn’s home record remains even at 7-7. However, Wednesday’s win bumps its away record to a surprising 14-7.
“There’s no doubt about it. We’re tough on the road,” Cole said. “I might take the bus and drive it around Meiklejohn Stadium for our next home game.”
Next up for the Quakers is a four-game series at Cornell this weekend. They then finish the regular season the following weekend, with a four-game home and home series against Columbia.
The Red and Blue hope they can string a few wins together in order to have a shot at the league title. And the victory over the Hawks has given them confidence heading into Ithaca.
“We got a big series, and we’re hoping to go up there and take them home,” Thomson said. “Pretty much our only realistic shot at winning the league is to go up there and sweep.”
Cole knows Cornell is a good team with a solid pitching staff, but Penn’s away record speaks for itself this year.
“We’re just going to go in there and fight like heck and see if we can do some damage,” Cole said. “But we’re ready to go.”
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