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4-20-21-baseball-ben-miller-vs-la-salle-ana-glassman

During Tuesday's game against La Salle, sophomore Ben Miller scored twice out of his three trips on base.

Credit: Ana Glassman

For the second time in as many games, the starting pitcher for the Quakers was not able to make it out of the first inning. Oftentimes, this is an early indication of a blowout loss; however, Penn kept both games very close, and was able to secure the win in this contest.

After surrendering four first-inning runs last Wednesday due to a mix of hits, walks, and wild pitches, the Quakers did not shake the first-inning woes and gave up five runs in a very similar fashion: four hits given up, three walks, and one wild pitch. Junior left-hander Joe Miller was only able to record one out in the first inning, but it should be noted that his last start 10 days ago against Delaware — was a strong seven-inning outing, though it did lack run support. 

Similar to last Wednesday, the bullpen was called on very early in Tuesday’s game. In each game, three relievers would combine to limit the La Salle offense to only two more runs the rest of the way. In both games, sophomore Owen Coady and senior Brendan Bean were among the three relief pitchers. In Tuesday’s game, though he gave up both of the two additional runs, junior Kevin Eaise did well to get out of the first-inning jam and was efficient the rest of the way, pitching 5.2 innings in only 74 pitches.

The key difference-maker in the result of this game was the offense from the Quakers. The offense put up runs in every inning from the first inning through the fifth; by the end of the fifth inning, the score was tied 7-7. The score would remain that way until the bottom of the 10th, when the Quakers walked it off.

Key contributors on offense included sophomore outfielders Seth Werchan and Justin Carboni, as they produced runs from the bottom of the lineup. Sophomore utility player Ben Miller made the most of his at-bats, recording a hit and two walks, and managing to score twice in his three trips on base. Freshman Wyatt Henseler continued to show why he has been hitting fourth in the lineup, as he drove in runs in his first two at-bats, and his third at-bat was a single that moved a runner to third. That runner would go on to score the next play. Henseler now has a team-leading nine RBIs on the season.

Though he also made his impact on the offensive side of the ball by scoring two runs himself, sophomore catcher Jackson Appel was arguably the defensive player of the game for the Quakers. In the top of the first inning, with runners on first and second and the Red and Blue already losing by five runs, Appel managed to shut down a La Salle double steal attempt by catching the trail runner with a perfect throw to second. It was a great read by Appel, as the lead runner going to third had gotten a better jump, and it allowed Eaise to get out of the inning with a fly out.

That was not Appel’s lone defensive gem of the game, as he topped this play with an extremely difficult grab by the dugout steps. He was so close to the edge of the field that his momentum took him down the steps and into the dugout, but he held onto the ball. This play, as well as a key diving grab from Carboni, showed some flashiness from Penn’s defense, but also showed the Quakers' intense effort to stay in the game.

Alongside the stout defense, the Explorers’ offense was shut down by Coady, who struck out four during his three scoreless innings. His offspeed pitches were especially on point, as he froze multiple hitters with both the curveball and the slider. 

The 10th inning was where the Quakers took their first lead in the game. It started with a clean 1-2-3 top of the 10th from Bean, who would ultimately become the winning pitcher of the game, picking up his first win of the season. Bean only used 11 pitches and also recorded a strikeout. 

In the bottom of the 10th, junior Andrew Hernandez started a rally with a hard-liner to left center. Freshman Drew Rogers was substituted in for Miller as a pinch runner and advanced to third base via a single from junior Craig Larsen and a four-pitch walk to Werchan. With the bases loaded and the infield up, pinch-hitting sophomore Cole Palis delivered, punching a single past the shortstop to score Rogers.

The Quakers were able to secure their first walk-off win of the season in their last opportunity to do so; their remaining four games will be on the road. Each of these four games is also against La Salle, and will be played between the three-day span of next Thursday to Saturday. While the Red and Blue will look to get off to better starts in the first inning, the team can build on their offensive success and strong relief pitching as they hope to take the currently deadlocked season series against the Explorers.

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