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Junior third baseman Wyatt Henseler at the plate against Villanova on March 15. Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

On a picture-perfect Philadelphia afternoon, Penn baseball delivered a performance worthy of the scenery.

As the sun beat down on Villanova Ballpark, Penn (17-11, 6-3 Ivy) put together a complete effort to down its crosstown counterparts, the Villanova Wildcats (6-25), 15-4, mercy-ruling them after eight innings. Penn dominated nearly every facet of the game, demonstrating the type of team it can be when everything is humming in harmony.

Offensively, junior third baseman Wyatt Henseler ruled the day for the Quakers — going 3-4 at the plate with two home runs and seven RBIs. In what was arguably his best performance of the season, Henseler credited his mental game for helping him regain the form that earned him a unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection in 2022.

“Slow start to the year, not the way I would’ve wanted,” Henseler said. “I’ve been working with coaches to simplify my approach and just be more aggressive. I’m an aggressive hitter, and the more swings I get off, the better. Just kind of a lucky day.”

Penn’s play on the diamond was effective from the opening pitch. After a scoreless first inning for both teams, the Quakers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the second and protected that advantage with a 1-2-3 on defense. From the infield to the outfield, each Quaker covered their ground and complemented one another efficiently.

Penn’s stellar defense was contrasted by Villanova’s struggles on the field. The most apparent example was on sophomore catcher Asa Wilson’s inside the park homerun, when a bobbled throw by Villanova turned a triple into a run and sparked a raucous celebration from the Quaker dugout. The Wildcats ultimately finished the game with two errors to Penn’s zero.

Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil Senior catcher Jackson Appel runs the bases against Villanova on March 15.

That sound defense set the stage for the Red and Blue bats to do their part. In the top of the fifth, Henseler blasted a ball over the right field wall, scoring senior first baseman Ben Miller and extending the Quakers’ lead to a commanding 6-0. From there, Penn’s fielding clinic continued, highlighted by a diving catch from freshman left fielder Ryan Taylor and a slick tag by Miller.

Two hits, two walks, and another Henseler homer later, Penn had blown the game open — leading 11-0. But in the seventh inning, the Wildcats finally got on the board. A three-run Wildcat homer helped Villanova avoid a seventh-inning mercy rule. But as the sun began to fall in the left field sky, Penn turned out the lights on the Wildcats’ comeback hopes.

The Quakers ripped off four more hits, including another from Henseler, to widen the gap to 15-4. Then, Penn’s bullpen help up its end of the bargain. Junior pitcher Eli Trop held the Wildcats to one hit and zero runs in the bottom of the eighth, earning the Quakers a rule-run win.

A total of five pitchers took the mound for the Quakers, with four of them combining for seven scoreless innings. With an overall strike percentage of 71.4 and an opposing batting average of .267, Penn’s pitching staff repaid its hitters and fielders with a gem of its own. With no weak links, the Quaker’s chain could not be broken.

“Guys getting on base, guys getting them in, pitchers throwing strikes; everything was going our way today," Henseler said. "Hopefully we can carry that into Ivy play.”

Penn will travel to Providence, R.I. this weekend for a series against Brown. That matchup, and the many matchups to come, will be made much easier if the Quakers can continue to play as one.