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Men's Baseball vs Dartmouth Credit: Carolyn Lim , Carolyn Lim

The Penn baseball team began the first leg of its four-game series against Cornell amid flurries in Ithaca, N.Y.

The weather wasn’t the only thing that was cold.

As their hitting disappeared, the Quakers (22-17, 7-9 Ivy) lost three of four in their series against the Big Red (21-14, 9-7), winning the first game, 6-0, before losing the last three contests, 4-2, 3-1 and 8-2 respectively.

The Red and Blue started the series off strong, thanks to a complete game five-hitter from sophomore Connor Cuff.

Cuff, an Illinois native, is used to playing in cold conditions and had no problems gaining command of the ball in the miserable New York weather.

Penn got on the board early in the day, as freshman Mike Vilardo scored on a first-inning single by senior Ryan Deitrich. The Quakers recorded eight hits and three runs in the game’s first three innings.

Cuff then worked around trouble to earn his fifth win and notch his third complete game of the season. Though a man was in scoring position in each of the first five innings, Cuff maintained the lead and shut out the Big Red.

“When [Cornell] got hits, they got hits on good pitches,” he said. “I didn’t want it to spiral into anything so I just focused on the next batter instead of worrying about the guy on base.”

Penn solidified its lead in the seventh inning on a two-run double by freshman Ryan Mincher to give the Quakers an insurmountable 6-0 lead.

In the second game, it looked as if Penn would stay in control, as Vilardo once again got on base to start the game. This time, junior Rick Brebner would be the man to bring him home.

However, the Quakers would stay quiet for the rest of the game. In his first Ivy League start, Cornell freshman lefty Michael Byrne found his stride, retiring 16 consecutive batters and allowing no hits after the first inning.

“I think [their pitchers] did a good job of keeping movements off balance,” Vilardo said. “Obviously we have to do a better job of a adjusting and find a way to produce runs and hit but they obviously have a very talented staff and that’s a big reason why left hand pitching is such a tough commodity.”

Cornell recorded its first run of the day in the bottom of the second, stringing together two RBI singles to go ahead, 2-1, before tacking on two more runs in the bottom of the sixth.

The Quakers attempted a comeback in the bottom of the ninth. Vilardo crossed the plate on a single from sophomore Austin Bossart, putting the Quakers within two, but that would be it in the 4-2 loss.

In the second day of the series, the Quakers could not convert hits into runs.

This time, the Big Red were the first team on board, as they recorded one run in the bottom of the first. The Quakers fought back in the second and tied the game, but their bats were then stymied as the next 13 Penn batters went down.

Cornell regained the lead in the third, notching two runs to put the visitors away, 3-1.

“If you look at the hits, we were pretty even,” Vilardo said. “The difference was they had timely hitting and timely defense and our hits were more spread out and that’s the way baseball works.”

In the last game of the series, the Quakers had runners on base in each of the first three innings, but could not manage to get them across the home plate. Junior Pat Bet took a beating, giving up six runs in only two innings on the mound. After facing four batters in the third without recording an out, junior Cody Thomson took over in middle relief.

Despite managing nine hits in the game — only one less than Cornell — the Quakers could not produce timely hitting and fell to the Big Red, 8-2.

The Quakers will have a challenge next weekend as they finish their season against division leader Columbia, which holds the best record in the Ivy League.


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