The bats were hot for Penn baseball over the weekend, yet no bat was hotter than that of freshman left fielder Craig Larsen.
Thanks in part to the longest game in Ivy League history, in which he set an NCAA record for at-bats with 12, Larsen hit for Penn's first cycle since Jeff Gregorio achieved the feat in 2000. On top of that, Larsen collected three more hits and five RBIs over the final two games of the series against Dartmouth, both blowout wins for the Red and Blue.
Starting with an RBI double in the top of the first, Larsen’s cycle wouldn’t be completed until he picked up a single in the top of the 13th inning. Through the first eight innings, the offense hadn’t gotten much going until Larsen bashed a grand slam that broke a 6-6 tie.
It's historic enough for a Penn athlete to achieve a feat that hasn’t happened in 19 years, but even more so for a player in his first collegiate season.
But this impressive weekend didn’t come out of nowhere. Larsen has been showing that he’s the real deal all season long.
He has started all but one game this season and is one of the primary drivers of a reinvigorated Penn offense. Coming into the weekend, Larsen was hitting .389 with an impressive 1.109 on-base plus slugging percentage as a consistent presence near the top of the lineup.
Coming into the series, Larsen was also tied for the team lead in doubles with 11, and he led the team in RBIs and home runs with 30 and four, respectively. Larsen’s hot bat saw him add to each of these numbers against Dartmouth.
Larsen also exhibited some versatility in the field. The freshman switched over to first base in each of the three games after coach John Yurkow pinch-hit for starter Sean Phelan.
The Quakers are now right behind Harvard for first place in the Ancient Eight as they prepare for a midweek nonconference clash with Monmouth. Over the rest of the season, Larsen will try to bring an end to another long drought for Penn baseball by delivering an Ivy League title.