This weekend, the Penn baseball team has a chance to create some separation from the rest of the pack.
Sitting in a three-way tie for the Lou Gehrig Division lead with Cornell and Princeton, the Quakers (16-9, 3-1 Ivy) will look to take advantage of a weekend road trip against Brown and Yale.
The Quakers made a strong statement in their opening weekend of Ivy play, sweeping Red Rolfe division favorite Dartmouth and splitting with Harvard.
But after its early success, Penn dropped its midweek contest against Villanova, signaling to coach John Cole that this week of practice needed to be a “get well” week.
“Each individual is working on his own game, what he needs to better, which in turn is going to make the team better,” he said. “When they get well, the team gets well.”
Sophomore catcher Austin Bossart said the main goal was to get some confidence back as a team.
“Some people have ups and downs — that’s baseball — but as a team, we feel confident. We’ve put in the early work and the extra work this week in practice, and I can feel it,” Bossart said.
Besides confidence, Cole wants to see strong pitching and tight defense from his players.
“We lost those games because we’re not hitting well now, we didn’t make plays, we’re still walking guys and giving teams a chance to beat us, and we can’t let that happen this weekend.”
Brown (2-16, 0-4 Ivy) struggled in the opening weekend of league play, dropping two games each to Cornell and Princeton. Collectively, the Brown pitching staff is allowing teams to hit .287 against it.
The Bears are currently batting .218 as a team, led by junior outfielder Daniel Massey (.375), compared with Penn’s .286 team average. That figure is boosted by three Quakers currently hitting over .340.
Yale (5-15, 2-2 Ivy) comes into the weekend riding a three-game winning streak, including a 15-5 walloping of Connecticut in which they scored nine runs in the first two innings. The team’s ERA, though, is decidedly middling at 5.29.
Despite the challenges of a four-game road series, Cole knows exactly what he wants to see from his team and feels that they can deliver. The key, he thinks, will be consistent offensive pressure.
“Whoever can put the most pressure on the other team will win this weekend, simple as that,” he said.
But the importance of strong pitching and defense can’t be underestimated, Cole continued.
“We’ve let some opportunities get away from us recently and we know it, but a good club responds to that. We’ve got to do what we do best and seize the game when it’s on the line and put it in the win column,” he said. “We need four good starts from our pitchers. And we need the defense to make plays, that means not settling for one out and trying to turn two.”
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