Consistency. The Quakers haven’t found it yet, but they still have time.
Penn baseball lost its Tuesday road matchup at Monmouth by a score of 3-1. The Red and Blue could not hold their early 1-0 lead, as Monmouth scratched a few runs across in the middle innings to take the victory.
Penn (8-18-1, 3-5-1 Ivy) scored its only run of the game in the third inning off of an infield error by Monmouth, which plated freshman outfielder Christian Walton. The Red and Blue couldn’t get much else going with the bats, going scoreless for the rest of the afternoon, while stranding runners in scoring position in the fourth and fifth innings.
Walton, who went two for three, and junior third baseman Matt McGeagh, who went three for four, accounted for all five of the Quakers’ hits on Tuesday.
Penn’s pitching staff did the best that it could to shut down the Monmouth (9-18, 3-6 MAAC) offense in this low-scoring affair. Freshman Brendan Bean started on the bump as he did in last Wednesday’s win at Villanova. Once again, the left-hander put in a nice day’s work, giving up no runs, one hit, and striking out five of the 12 batters he faced in three innings.
“We felt all along that [Bean] was gonna be a pretty good arm for us,” said coach John Yurkow, now in his fifth season as Penn’s skipper. “That’s two pretty good starts in a row. You know, they were limited because we kept him on a pitch count because we want him for the weekend. But he’s doing a good job with his fastball.”
After Bean’s solid start, Jordan Della Valle, Cole Sichley, Grant Guillory, and Dylan Mulvihill saw some action on the hill. The bullpen gave up just two hits, but Monmouth took advantage of the few scoring opportunities they had.
In the fifth inning, senior Pete Papcun tied the game by hitting into a fielder’s choice, scoring junior Kyle Norman in the process. The Hawks were able to do more damage in the next frame, as sophomore Danny Long knocked in fellow sophomore JP Walsh and freshman Nick Campana to give his team a 3-1 advantage.
Monmouth’s pitching staff held it down from there, with freshman Ryan Steckline picking up the win and senior Ryan Lillie notching the save. Junior starting pitcher Tyler Ksiazek set the tone for Steckline and Lillie by throwing an efficient five innings and giving up just one run.
While the Quakers were surely looking for a win on Tuesday, they’d be more than happy to trade this loss against Monmouth for a strong effort at Princeton this weekend.
Princeton (7-13, 4-2 Ivy) comes into this matchup second in the Ivy League standings, while Penn has stalled near the bottom of the totem pole, now ranked sixth in the conference. That’s not to say that the Red and Blue can’t get back into the mix, but if it’s going to happen, it has to be soon.
Princeton went 2-1 in each of its series’ against Ivy opponents Cornell and Brown. The Tigers, who won the Ivy League as recently as 2016, are led by a few key hitters who make up the heart of their batting order. These players include sophomore outfielder Chris Davis, senior shortstop Asher Lee-Tyson, junior outfielder and standout football wide receiver Jesper Horsted, and junior first baseman Joseph Flynn. These four are among the leaders in team batting average and on-base percentage.
As for the Red and Blue, they will continue to search for greater consistency as a team, something that they have lacked in the early going of the Ivy League season.
“I’m just looking for our guys to play three consistent games,” Yurkow said. “And I’m talking about all phases of the game...this team is quite capable of doing that. It’s just gonna take a couple of the experienced guys to grab hold of things and get us going in the right direction.”
The Quakers are confident that they can right the ship and start heading in that right direction — but only time will tell.