Despite having to deal with yet another rain delay, Penn baseball looks forward to wrapping up its nonconference schedule against Division II University of the Sciences (5-25) on Wednesday afternoon. The Quakers (19-12) are coming off three wins in four games against Cornell over the weekend and hope to end their seven-game homestand on a high note. We see who’s up and who’s down entering Wednesday’s game.
Rookies on a roll: Freshman righty Jake Cousins continues to prove himself as one of Penn’s top dealers. He’s displayed his versatility thus far this season, as he’s made four starts along with four relief appearances. In his most recent start on Saturday against Cornell, Cousins held the Big Red to two runs in five and two-thirds innings to improve his record to a team best 4-0.
On the offensive side, rookie Tim Graul broke out last week, going 6-for-11 with four RBI. Before his banner 4-for-4 day against St. Peter’s last Wednesday, Graul had gone hitless this season. But coach John Yurkowseems to like the East Greenwich, R.I., native a lot, so Graul should be able to continue to get his hacks. The freshman’s role moving forward, based on what he’s been asked to do so far, will be as a middle-of-the-lineup designated hitter against left-handed pitchers.
Home, Sweet Home: The Quakers are an impressive 11-2 at Meiklejohn Stadium this season compared to a pedestrian 8-8 mark in road and neutral site games. This comes a year after the Quakers went 7-9 at home. The Red and Blue will look to continue that success when they finish up their seven-game homestand against USciences on Wednesday.
The way they’ve played at Meiklejohn, the Quakers should be especially excited if they can make it to the Ivy League championship series and get home-field advantage.
Senior captain Brandon Engelhardt: The veteran centerfielder has more than made up for his slow start to the season with his stellar play in conference competition. The Pottstown, Pa., product’s .400 batting average is fourth-best in conference play among all Ivy players, and he also features the fifth-best slugging percentage at .600.
Engelhardt was crucial to the Quakers’ success against Cornell this past weekend in multiple ways. The captain got the Red and Blue going in the early game of the Sunday doubleheader when he laced a triple off the first pitch he saw and soon scored the first run of Penn’s 4-2 victory. And while he sparked the Quakers’ momentum with his bat, Engelhardt would add to the charge later in the game with his glove when the Big Red threatened. It looked as if Cornell was going to tie the game after JD Whetsel singled to center with a runner on second, but Engelhardt had other plans, gunning the runner down at the plate to keep Penn’s lead intact.
No longer a perfect Bet: Senior submarine reliever Pat Bet, who has been one of the best stories on this year’s Penn squad, finally showed this weekend that he is indeed human. Entering the last game of the series with a perfect earned run average, Bet gave up his first two runs in the ninth inning before closing out the Quakers’ third straight win.
Lack of production in losses: As potent as Penn’s offense has been this year, its bats struggled rather heavily in two losses last week to St. Joe’s and Cornell. Against St. Joe’s, the Red and Blue notched only six hits in 13 innings and could not get any clutch contributions. In the first contest of the weekend against Cornell, the Penn bats failed to produce a run for the first time in conference play and scraped together a mere five hits.
USciences on the road: This season has been a struggle for the 5-25 Devils, especially on the road. USciences is 0-6 when it visits opponents and has been outscored 43-10 in those contests. Things won’t get any easier for the Devils when they face the Quakers at Meiklejohn on Wednesday looking for their first road win.