While many Penn students returned to class Monday afternoon, Penn baseball was still playing.
In a bizarre three-game set that began with a 16-inning game, saw a total of 57 runs scored, and spanned a total of three days, the Red and Blue took home their first series win of the conference season, taking two of three from Brown.
It was supposed to be another normal Ivy League matchup for the Quakers (13-8, 3-3 Ivy), with great weather forecasted for a Saturday doubleheader and perhaps some rain on Sunday, but nothing too serious. The Bears (5-17, 2-4) ended up having to stay an extra day in Philadelphia after game one went seven extra innings and a rain delay pushed game three to Monday.
The first game of the series began as a pitchers' duel, but that was not at all indicative of what was to come. After each team scored just three runs apiece through 12 innings, the Bears put up two additional runs in the top of the 13th to put the pressure on the Quakers.
Penn’s freshman hitters have been elevating the offense all season, and they continued to impress with shortstop Josh Hood tying it up in the bottom of the 13th with a homer to left field. Down two runs again in the 16th inning, second baseman Craig Larsen came through with the walk-off winner, a single to left.
As a group, the freshmen aren’t surprised by their early success.
“We’re not shy just because we’re freshmen, we’re here for a reason, we’re here to help this team,” freshman designated hitter Andrew Hernandez said.
After the intense, five-hour game kicked off the series, game two was a different story. The Quakers jumped out to a six-run lead in the first inning and never looked back. Even though this one inning would have been enough to secure the win, the Red and Blue added another six-run outburst in the seventh for good measure.
“I can’t really say I’ve been a part of a game that lasted over five hours and then the next game ends in a blowout,” Hernandez said. “It really was an odd weekend.”
The Quakers ended up taking the game 17-4, out-hitting the Bears 24-6 and clinching the series, but after dropping two games to Harvard last weekend, Penn wanted the sweep.
On a sunny but brisk Monday afternoon, the Quakers battled for most of the third game, twice erasing a two-run deficit. In the top of the seventh, however, the Bears put the game out of reach after a two-out double by junior Calvin Farris got past a diving senior Sean Phelan down the first-base line. The next batter, junior Rich Ciufo, sent one over the fence in center for a home run.
Ciufo was the star of the game for the Bears, finishing a single shy of the cycle, knocking in five RBIs, and scoring three runs himself.
“A sweep would’ve been nice, that’s what we aim for,” Hernandez said.
With all of the scoring throughout the series up and down the lineup, Hernandez emerged as the hero for the Quakers.
Hernandez went 9-for-16 with seven RBIs and was arguably the best hitter for the Red and Blue in games two and three. In 27 at-bats this season, he now leads the team in batting average and slugging percentage, an impressive feat considering how well the offense has performed.
“I'm just trying do the best I can to help out the team, just do my part and play my role," Hernandez said.
After his breakout series, Hernandez is another weapon that coach John Yurkow has at his disposal, and he and the rest of the Quakers will look to follow up their first conference series win with another victory at home against Saint Joseph's on Tuesday.
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