The Quakers got in, got out, and got the big win.
On Tuesday night, the Red and Blue took the trip into neighboring New Jersey to take on Lafayette at Diamond Nation Baseball Complex in Flemington. The Leopards put up little fight against the Quakers, as the Red and Blue easily won by a score of 19-3.
Penn (5-4) hit the ground running, scoring six times in the first inning. Junior outfielder Peter Matt and freshman outfielder Tommy Courtney were walked to fill two of the bases, and senior catcher Matt O’Neill was hit by a pitch to load them. Proving why he deserved the accolade, Philadelphia Freshman of the Week Craig Larsen nailed a grand slam to put the Quakers up 4-0.
“Craig has been awesome both defensively and offensively. It’s just really cool to see a bunch of freshmen come in and be consistent game in and game out,” Matt said.
“You could definitely see in the first inning we came out hot,” senior captain and first baseman Sean Phelan said. “Everyone had good at bats, and you could definitely see a collective confidence when everybody came out today.”
The Leopards (3-10) got onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the second via a combination of three hits and two walks, bringing the score to 7-3. Freshman pitcher Joe Miller entered the game for starting junior Josh Sidney and would not allow another Lafayette run.
In the third, sophomore outfielder Christian Walton was walked in the first at bat of the inning. He subsequently stole second base, setting up the next two runs of the evening. Matt walked before O’Neill singled, allowing Walton and Matt to score.
Miller threw two strikeouts in the third, but it was the three consecutive strikeouts in the fourth that resulted in the freshman’s no-hit inning. By the time he retired for the day, Miller had thrown seven strikeouts.
“[The freshmen] haven’t really missed a beat from the transition from high school to college ball," Phelan said. "They’ve helped us win a couple games, so that’s great to see so early on in their careers."
The Quakers scored two more in the fifth, highlighted by a triple from sophomore infielder Eddie Malinowski and complemented by two singles by freshman infielder Josh Hood and senior infielder Matt McGeagh.
Freshman pitcher Kevin Eaise took over for Miller in the sixth and held Lafayette at three runs for the next three innings, before sophomore pitcher Jared Gaer finished out the game.
The Leopards held the Quakers at 14 runs for the the sixth and seventh, but Penn returned to the scoreboard in the eighth. Sophomore outfielder Kyle Cronk was hit by a pitch and Matt walked. Phelan homered to right center to add three more to the visitors' tally.
In the game’s final inning, Walton got his first hit of the season. His single, combined with a walk by Hood, singles by Malinowski and McGeagh, and a Cronk hit, would put the Quakers up two more, leaving the final score to be 19-3.
With the 19 runs, the Red and Blue scored their most runs in a single game since a 2016 win against Yale.
“I think we felt really confident coming off of a spring break trip, especially playing really well down south,” Matt said.
“Yeah, I think we feel really good about [the season] so far, we’re just trying to keep the ball rolling and eventually get into Ivies, stay hot, and make a run at that League title,” Matt said.
Currently at No. 24 in the country in RPI, Penn is ranked significantly higher than it was last year when the team finished at an RPI of 258. Without having yet played an Ivy game, the Quakers are the highest-ranked team in the League.
Should the impressive stats continue, the Quakers will be looking at a successful 2019 season.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly attributed Peter Matt's comment to Matt McGeagh. The DP regrets the error.