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Senior left-handed pitcher Owen Coady throws the ball to the UMass batter during the first inning of the game.

Credit: Samantha Turner

After being swept at South Carolina to open its season last month, Penn baseball has rebounded in fine form. 

The team was coming off a 15-5 win against Villanova in its home opener on March 15, which bumped the Quakers to 6-6 overall. This weekend, Penn made its way above .500 for the first time in 2023, after winning two games of a three-game series against UMass. 

After one game, though, this result was far from guaranteed. On Friday, the Quakers lost 1-0 after being unable to generate any offense. Even though senior starting pitcher Owen Coady pitched an excellent game — notching 11 strikeouts in seven innings of work — before giving up a home run in the sixth inning that ended up being the only score of the game.

Credit: Benjamin McAvoy-Bickford Senior in-fielder Cole Palis hits the ball during the first game of a three-game series on March 17.

“[On] Friday we had really good pitching, just one home run kind of won the game for them,” senior outfielder Seth Werchan said. “We have a pretty good offense and we just couldn’t get anything going. Our starting pitching is doing really well right now; Owen got the loss in the first game [but] that’s an offensive fault, you can’t do much better as a pitcher.”

Saturday's two games were the complete opposite of game one. The first game on Saturday was a 9-3 blowout in favor of the Quakers. Junior pitcher Cole Zaffiro had seven strikeouts, but this time the Quakers were able to capitalize on the offensive end. Senior catcher Jackson Appel and Werchan each tallied two runs, with five other Penn players also scoring a run. 

“I was struggling the past few weeks and just kind of kept my head down and worked on a couple things," Werchan said. "Coach put me in the lineup and trusted me. Things just kind of clicked [Saturday].”

The third game of the series was perhaps the best win of the season for Penn. The team scored a monstrous 19 runs before winning by run-rule after seven innings, showing some of the dominance that was so evident in last year’s title run.

Credit: Samantha Turner Freshman in-fielder Davis Baker gets the University of Massachusetts runner out and prepares to throw the ball to first to attempt a double play.

Good pitching once again led to good outcomes for the Quakers. This time it was sophomore right-handed pitcher Ryan Dromboski striking out a career-high nine hitters to keep UMass contained. On the offensive end, it felt like a scoring feast with everyone getting involved. Werchan continued his good form with two home runs and four RBIs. In total, eight different Quakers recorded an RBI in game three.

The Quakers will hope to continue this momentum against Lehigh on Wednesday. After that, the much anticipated conference play will start. Penn will face rival Harvard for a three-game series beginning on March 25. Time will tell if the Red and Blue can make another run similar to last year where they came just short of winning it all.

“I think [the key will be] sticking to our game which is really good pitching, and having good back-end relievers," Werchan said. "Lehigh this week will be a good test game for Harvard, which is obviously a big opponent.”