Penn baseball has been on a roll as of late. This weekend, Red and Blue fans will find out just how legit the team really is.
The Quakers (13-10, 3-1 Ivy), fresh off a 11-2 shellacking of Big 5 rival Villanova Tuesday, will dive back into conference play this weekend as they travel north for a four-game series, playing Brown and Yale twice apiece.
“We’re obviously playing a lot more confident. Winning really helps that,” Penn coach John Yurkow said of his squad, which has gone 11-1 in its last 12 games. “It’s still pretty early in the Ivy season... hopefully we can keep it rolling.”
The Quakers dominated their contest versus Villanova (3-16) Tuesday, putting up seven runs in the first inning before riding seven innings of one-run ball from freshman hurler Mitchell Holcomb en route to the blowout win. The game, a semifinal of the Liberty Bell Classic, advanced the Quakers to the series’ championship, which will take place at Citizen’s Bank Park.
“Our bullpen was really taxed, so for [Holcomb] to go that deep into the game really helped,” Yurkow said, mentioning that the game was the Quakers’ fifth in three days. “His fastball command was really good. He kept the ball down and got some ground balls.”
Yurkow was also excited that his team will get the chance to play in a big-league ballpark; the Red and Blue have played in the Liberty Bell Championship game only once before in their history and have never won the title.
“It’s an awesome experience, to go over and play in that environment,” the third-year coach said of the game, which will take place versus La Salle, likely on April 18. “It’s something we’re looking forward to for sure.”
Sophomore third baseman Matt McGeagh continued his recent hot streak, going 2-for-5 with three RBI in the contest. The California native boats a .329 batting average on the season and leads the Quakers with three home runs. McGeagh is also the defending Ivy League and Big 5 Player of the Week, having hit .471 in the five games preceding Tuesday.
“He’s seeing the ball really well right now — he’s made some adjustments in his swing, he’s shortened it up,” Yurkow said of his breakout star. “He’s hot right now. It’s good to see.”
The Red and Blue’s 3-1 mark in Ivy play — a result of impressive showings versus Harvard and Dartmouth earlier this week — is tied for the best in the league. However, for the Quakers to separate from their talented Ivy competition, they will need an encore performance this weekend.
Yale (12-11) figures to be a particularly challenging matchup for the Quakers, as the Bulldogs have matched the Red and Blue with a 3-1 conference mark and are fresh off a doubleheader sweep of defending Ivy champion Princeton Monday.
Brown (8-10) sits at .500 versus Ivy competition with a 2-2 mark, having swept Cornell on Saturday before suffering the opposite fate against Princeton Sunday.
All things considered, Yurkow is very comfortable with his team’s position at this point in the season.
“A lot can happen in a weekend. It’s nice to be off to a 3-1 start — our goal is to win every weekend,” Yurkow said.
“If you can get three out of four every weekend, you’re going to be sitting in a pretty good spot at the end of the season.”