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Freshman shortstop Josh Hood batted in seven runs in the three-game series against Harvard, including his first two collegiate home runs. 

Credit: Eric Zeng

The climb up the Ivies starts now.

In the first Ivy series of the season, Penn baseball split Saturday’s doubleheader but lost on Sunday to Harvard at Meiklejohn Stadium.

Game one put an end to the Quakers’ seven-game winning streak, while the second contest marked their seventh win when scoring at least 10 runs.

Game one, pitched by junior Christian Scafidi, seemed to be Harvard’s from the very beginning. The Crimson (10-5, 2-1 Ivy) hit two home runs right away before senior first baseman Sean Phelan responded with a homer of his own in the bottom of the first. 

In the second inning, Harvard scored two runs off of a double, and one more off a single. Before the Quakers (11-6, 1-2) could get back on the board, the Crimson added three runs off a homer to left field.

The Quakers and Crimson each scored two runs in the fifth inning. Harvard fortified its lead with an RBI double, but the Quakers brought it back to a three-run deficit with an RBI single by freshman shortstop Josh Hood.

In the eighth, Harvard scored three more. While the Quakers clawed back in the game with a few runs in the ninth, it was too little too late, and the Crimson won, 12-9. 

In Saturday’s second game, the Quakers scooped up their first Ivy win of the year, with junior Mitchell Holcomb starting the contest on the hill.

Although Harvard started off hot again with a two-run RBI triple, Hood cut the lead by one with his first collegiate home run. 

In the third inning, Harvard brought the score to 3-1 with a home run. In response, Penn freshman second baseman Craig Larsen hit an RBI double, bringing junior right fielder Peter Matt home. Hood followed up with another RBI double, plating three of his teammates.

In the fifth frame, Hood nailed his second home run of the day to put Penn up by a score of 8-5.

“In previous games, I just feel like I wasn’t keeping my head on the ball — I noticed that in between games when we were warming up,” Hood said. “I tried to make that adjustment as much as I could before the game, and I was able to see the ball pretty well.”

The eighth inning helped to put the Quakers in the lead for good. Senior third baseman Matt McGeagh hit a sacrifice fly to plate Hood, and that was followed by a two-RBI single by Phelan, allowing sophomore left fielder Eduardo Malinowski and sophomore designated hitter Jackson Petersen to score. 

In the series finale on Sunday, the Quakers were the ones who started the scoring, with Hood's RBI single scoring Matt in the bottom of the first.

After Harvard scored two runs, Malinowski started the scoring in the fourth by hitting his second homer of the year over the left field wall to drive in two runs. Matt stole second base before advancing to third on an error by the Harvard catcher. The Harvard catcher then sailed a throw over the outstretched arm of his second baseman, allowing both Matt and McGeagh to score.

Harvard responded with a homer that sailed into the right field net that protects Route 76 from flying baseballs. Cheers erupted from the Harvard section as Patrick McColl rounded the bases to tie the game at 4-4.

Harvard broke a scoring hiatus with a grand slam in the eighth from Jake Suddleson to put the Crimson ahead, 8-4. 

Going into the ninth, the Quakers trailed, 8-6. Peterson and Malinowski promptly started a rally with a pair of singles. However, the door slammed shut with a strikeout and double play, which ended the game.

“It was exciting, it was really exciting,” Hood said. “Harvard’s a really good team, but I also think we’re a better team. To lose the series leaves a sour taste in your mouth.”

“We know we have some things to tighten up, and we will,” Phelan said. “Generally, we played well throughout the series, but there is room for improvement on the field, at bat, and on the mound."

"Guys know that and the sentiment is we’re the best team in the League, we’re gonna learn from this weekend and get better.”

The Quakers will have a midweek game against Villanova that they can use to strengthen their footing before continuing Ivy play against Brown next weekend.