With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Penn baseball team needed something miraculous to keep it from losing its first division series of the season to Princeton.
But in the end, the Quakers came up short.
Trailing the entire final game of the series, Penn (20-14, 6-6 Ivy) stood one batter away from losing to Princeton’s (11-21, 8-4) Cameron Mingo in what would be a complete game and his first win of the season with a 6-3 lead on his side.
But a high pitch count wore on the Tigers pitcher, and junior Brandon Engelhardt notched a single to right. After a walk loaded the bases, the runners advanced on wild pitch.
The Quakers’ rally was kept alive when Austin Bossart lined up a single into left field to tie the game, 6-6.
“I was looking for a fastball I could handle and I got it,” Bossart said. “I wish we could have come out on top with that so it’s just disappointing not to come out on top after that huge rally in the ninth inning.”
But like much of the weekend, Penn’s success was short-lived. Danny Thomson popped the next Quakers batter out. In the top of the 10th inning, a home run by Alec Keller — his fifth of the season — ended the game and handed the Quakers their third loss in two days.
“You have two outs and come back from three runs that’s pretty good,” coach John Cole said. “You’d like to see them finish off the rally but we gave them a chance.”
Princeton took three of four from the Quakers in the weekend series, scoring seven runs in each of the four games.
A cold offense again plagued the Red and Blue.
In the first game, reigning Ivy League Pitcher of the Year Zak Hermans struck out 12 Quakers and gave up only five hits in seven innings. Penn immediately fell behind, with sophomore Connor Cuff allowing three runs in the first inning.
In the bottom of the second, a bloop single behind first base and an error charged to sophomore outfielder Connor Betbeze allowed two runs to score, putting Princeton ahead, 5-0.
The Quakers chipped away at the lead in the bottom of the third with a solo home run from junior Rick Brebner, closing the gap, 5-2. However, that would be the last from the Quakers, as they lost the first contest, 7-2.
“I think we’re thinking too much — that’s all it is,” Bossart said. “People just need to relax at the plate and just get the pitch to hit, and we’ll be just fine.”
In Saturday’s nightcap, the offense woke up, scoring six runs in the first three innings. Though the Tigers closed the gap, 6-3, at the end of three,. Bossart gave the Quakers more breathing room with a solo shot in the bottom half of the fifth.
Penn closer Ronnie Glenn ran into trouble looking for his eighth save of the season — he gave up two runs in the bottom of the ninth — but ultimately secured the one-run victory, 8-7.
The Quakers, however, couldn’t keep their momentum going into Sunday’s first game, falling to Princeton, 7-1, and only managing two hits against Princeton’s Mike Ford before losing the nightcap.
“We’re just doing a very poor job offensively,” Cole said. “[Ford’s] a good pitcher for them, [Mingo] hasn’t pitched much at all and we’re feeling pressure when we shouldn’t be and we’re just not doing a good job at the plate.”
The Quakers will get one tune-up in their last midweek game of the season on Wednesday against Lehigh before heading to Ithaca to face reigning Ivy League champions Cornell.
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