Penn baseball grinded out a nail-biting victory on Wednesday, wrapping up its final midweek home game of the season in fine form.
After a series sweep at the hands of Yale last weekend, the Quakers defeated Seton Hall, 5-2, on the back of three key runs in the eighth inning.
On a beautiful day in Meiklejohn Stadium, the first three innings saw solid pitching and defense from both sides. A highlight from the opening innings was senior captain Matt O’Neill’s play that ended the top of the second inning. Seton Hall (16-21, 2-4 Big East) attempted to steal second base to put a runner in scoring position, but the catcher’s impressive throw beat the runner to the bag.
The Quakers (20-14, 8-7 Ivy) drew first blood when freshman shortstop Josh Hood tripled to center field, allowing senior captain and designated hitter Sean Phelan to reach home and put the Quakers up by one. For Phelan, the game was a momentous occasion, as he tied the program record for appearances. He has started every game since his sophomore year and has the third-most career hits, with 188, in Penn history, just 16 shy of the program record.
“Obviously the seniors did a great job today, and with only six games to go in the Ivy slate, I hope a sense of urgency has crept into the whole team to capitalize on what we have left,” coach John Yurkow said.
Seton Hall responded right away, as the Pirates capitalized on an infield error by the Quakers and took the lead with a two-run single in the top of the fifth. Penn junior right fielder Peter Matt found his way to third base in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff single, a balk, and a stolen base, but he was stranded as the offense was unable to cash in.
In top of the seventh, the Red and Blue had their backs against the wall. With two outs and the bases loaded, junior pitcher Jacob Sadowitz got a crucial out by forcing a pop fly to shallow left field on his first pitch of the day.
Penn rode this momentum into the bottom of the seventh to tie up the game at 2-2. Matt found his way to third base again with a program-record tying triple, but this time, he found his way home with the help of an O’Neill RBI single. Sophomore left fielder Eduardo Malinowski followed that up with a single, but a double play ended the inning.
In the top of the eighth, Sadowitz picked up right where he left off, striking out two hitters and preventing Seton Hall from scoring. Phelan then continued to have a hot bat, putting the Quakers in scoring position with a leadoff double. Hood knocked in the go-ahead run with a single to left field, giving the Quakers a 3-2 lead.
Senior third baseman Matt McGeagh was hit by a pitch and advanced to first base, allowing Hood to advance to second. Freshman center fielder Tommy Courtney then singled to right field, loading up the bases. The Quakers scored two more runs off a walk and a sacrifice fly by O’Neill before freshman pitcher Kevin Eaise closed the game out in the ninth inning.
“Today was a great win for the whole team,” Yurkow said. “A lot of guys who don’t normally get playing time delivered well for us today, and we hope to ride the momentum into the series against Cornell this weekend.”
Penn will return to Ivy League play this weekend on the road against Cornell for their penultimate series of the season.