A smooth transition from non-Ivy success to league play is what the Penn baseball team was looking for in their conference-opening weekend at Meiklejohn Stadium.
And that’s exactly what the Quakers got.
The Red and Blue made critical plays to sweep the Big Green in back-to-back 3-2 victories before rallying past Harvard with a 4-1 afternoon victory, followed by a rain-delayed 3-3 postponement at the top of the eighth inning. That game will resume today at noon.
Game one of the Saturday doubleheader against Dartmouth (12-3, 0-2 Ivy) was a chance for Penn (16-7, 3-0 Ivy) to “legitimize the success [they’ve] had against non-Ivy League teams so far,” sophomore pitcher Connor Cuff said.
Cuff pitched all seven innings against the Big Green on Saturday, posting seven strikeouts and earning his fourth win of the season.
The early afternoon victory was sealed by senior outfielder Ryan Deitrich’s fourth-inning home run and a two-run double by freshman second baseman Mike Vilardo.
“I didn’t want to let [Dartmouth’s pitcher Cole Sulser] beat me again,” Deitrich said.
The Quakers carried that tenacity into the afternoon, when sophomore pitcher Jeff McGarry took the mound.
After walking two batters and giving up a run, Penn executed a double play to keep the score 1-0.
The Quakers’ senior designated hitter Spencer Branigan cracked a double to set up the run that got Penn on the board tying the game at 1-1 in the second inning.
The Red and Blue made another huge defensive stand in the top of the seventh by executing their second double play of the day. Penn finished on top, 3-2, to complete the sweep.
“We’ve been rolling pretty well and now I think everyone’s on board,” Cuff said. “I think we are all very confident.”
That confidence extended into the Easter morning match-up with Harvard (3-18, 0-3).
Penn struck quickly with a first-inning run by sophomore outfielder Connor Betbeze. Then in the fifth, the Quakers exploded offensively.
Betbeze connected to plate two runners, and Penn closed out the inning with three runs on three hits.
Harvard notched one run but was shut down by Penn’s stifling defense, resulting in a 4-1 victory for the Quakers.
Weather in the afternoon game called for a postponement of the last two innings.
Penn junior pitcher Pat Bet gave up three runs in the first inning to put the Red and Blue in an early hole.
The Quakers failed to score until the bottom of the fifth inning.
Hits by Branigan, Vilardo and freshman center fielder Gary Tesch evened the game, 3-3.
Penn senior pitcher John Beasley stepped in for the last two innings.
The conclusion to this game is yet to be determined, but the Red and Blue hope to carry their momentum into the afternoon contest.
The Quakers may feel great about starting off their Ivy slate with a 3-0 record, but there are still plenty of games left on the schedule.
“You got about 15 minutes to enjoy this,” coach John Cole said. “After you get out of the shower, it’s on to the next one.”
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