Three up, Three down: Penn baseball vs. USciences

Three Up Three DownDespite 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.

Three Up

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.

Three Down

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.

Julian Harrell and Henry Brooks leaving Penn basketball

Check out thedp.com for a more breakdown of all the changes to Penn basketball, but here is Julian Harrell's instagram post from today. It is a letter from Penn Athletic Compliance saying that Harrell is allowed to leave the program.Harrell

Bilsky to be named Big 5 Executive Director upon retirement

Did you miss Steve Bilsky yet? Well, he won't be that far away.

When Bilsky's 20 years as Penn's Athletic Director comes to a close on June 30, Bilsky will become the Executive Director of the Big 5, starting in July.

“The Big 5 Athletic Directors could not imagine a better person to assume this position than Steve,” Dr. Thomas Brennan, Director of Athletics at La Salle University, and Chair of the Big 5 Athletic Director Council, said in a release. “The Big 5 is an historic institution in Philadelphia, and Steve understands its importance, the landscape of Philadelphia sports, and the challenges and opportunities facing all of the Big 5 schools.” Continue reading

The Good, Bad & the Ugly: Penn baseball vs. Cornell

The Quakers' bench celebrates as Rick Brebner comes to bat

The Quakers' bench celebrates as Rick Brebner comes to bat

There was a lot for the Quakers to be excited about on Sunday as they swept the last two games of a four-game set with Cornell. Penn baseball is now 11-1 in Ivy play, two games ahead of Columbia for the lead in the Gehrig Division. Here is the good, the extremely good and the ugly from a sunny Sunday at Meiklejohn Stadium.

The Good: Pitching, pitching, pitching

The Red and Blue turned to a pair of junior pitchers to pick up wins on Sunday and both were happy to oblige. Connor Cuff began the day with a complete game, battling through some tough situations (especially the fourth and fifth innings) to pick up his fourth win of the year.

Meanwhile, Glenn was in much more trouble more often yet bested Cuff by not allowing a run during his start, leaving the game with a 9-0 lead. It was one of Glenn's best box scores of the year, holding down the fort as Penn's offense went to work.

The Extremely Good: Celebrations

The Quakers know how to celebrate and have fun in games. Whenever senior outfielder Rick Brebner came to bat, the entire bench would break out in dance to Brebner's at-bat music, including a quality version of the Bernie by senior Matt Gotschall. And after Cuff finished off the first win, the fist pump and shouts from the junior pitcher displayed pretty clearly the importance of the big win for Penn.'

The Ugly: Cornell in the field

It certainly was not a banner day for the Big Red as they tried to field the ball. A second inning dribbler up the line was thrown down the line instead of getting an easy out, letting Penn pick up a run. All in all, Cornell committed four errors in the first game of the doubleheader, all of that coming before letting a pop-up drop in the middle of the infield during game two. Yikes is all there is to say.

Three Up, Three Down: Penn men’s tennis vs. Harvard and Dartmouth

There have been few teams as solid in Ivy play so far as Penn men’s tennis, a squad that is off to a 2-1 start in conference play. The Quakers have matchups up north with No. 31 Harvard and Dartmouth. How will the Red and Blue fare in these crucial Ivy matches? We give you who is up and who is down for Penn’s weekend away from home.

Three Up

Matt Nardella — The Penn freshman is coming off a strong weekend against Yale and Brown, winning both of his singles matchups at No. 5 and winning his doubles matchup with fellow-freshman Marshall Sharp against the Bears. Nardella has been one of the few constants for the Red and Blue this year and has the potential to be a difference maker against Harvard and Dartmouth.

Denis Nguyen — The Harvard junior has been solid at No. 1 for the Crimson, going 8-3 so far on the year. Harvard has been 10-3 overall at the No. 1 spot, and Nguyen will look to continue that when the Crimson take on both Penn and Princeton over the weekend up in Cambridge.

Vim De Alwis — Despite losing his last match — at No. 2 vs. Yale — De Alwis has had a strong sophomore campaign for the Red and Blue, winning at No. 1 last weekend against Brown. The sophomore clinched that win, and he’ll try to follow that up this weekend.

Three Down

Spring Fling — With road matches on Saturday and Sunday, the Quakers won’t have the opportunity to enjoy the weekend in quite the same way as the rest of campus. Instead, the jubilation will have to come from playing some big Ivy matchups while trying to stay over .500 in the Ancient Eight.

Injuries — If you looked at the DP earlier this week, you would have seen the details of the Red and Blue’s struggles with injuries all year. Penn will have to make due with many key contributors either gone for the year (Ismael Lahlou comes to mind) or banged up, which makes for a tough weekend, especially against the nationally ranked Crimson on Saturday.

Everyone besides Columbia — Both Harvard and Dartmouth split Ivy matchups last weekend, losing to the Lions from Morningside Heights, N.Y. Columbia is the highest ranked team of any Ivy squad, and the Quakers will host the Lions a week after facing Harvard and Dartmouth. Columbia leads the Ivy League at the current moment, and it seems like none of these three squads has a strong chance of catching them.

Penn baseball picks up honors after 8-0 week

By Associate Sports Editor Colin Henderson

Penn baseball may have had its 11 game winning streak snapped in an extra-innings overtime loss to St. Joseph’s on Tuesday, but the Quakers have been rewarded for their efforts nonetheless.

 CollegeBaseballInsider.com has announced that Penn (15-11, 8-0 Ivy) has been named its Louisville Slugger Team of the Week.

The achievement was well earned by the athletes of Penn baseball. Prior to their loss on Tuesday, the Quakers had gone undefeated in their nine contests since March 31. Additionally, Penn’s perfect 8-0 start in Ivy League play – including victories over Yale, Brown, Harvard, and Dartmouth – is the best Ivy start in program history.

Offensively, the team has been led by senior outfielder Rick Brebner, who has been named Ivy Player of the Week for the first time in team history. Brebner has been a force at the plate all season, posting a 1.150 slugging percentage to go along with his Ivy League leading 7 home runs.

From the mound, the Quakers have been led by junior righty Connor Cuff, who has been named Big 5 Co-Pitcher of the Week. Cuff has posted a 1.21 ERA and a 3-1 record thus far this season.

The Quakers will look to recover from their loss to St. Joe’s and get their momentum moving back in the right direction today at home against St. Peter’s.

Mano-a-Mano: What should we expect from Penn track for the rest of the year?

ManoAMano11-1Penn’s track and field campaign this year has been dominated by headline-getters such as Sam Mattis and Thomas Awad, breaking school records despite the team getting flung all over the East Coast. But what should we expect from the Quakers for the rest of the season? Sports Editor Ian Wenik and Associate Sports Editor Colin Henderson discuss:

Sports Editor Ian Wenik: It’s tough to pin down specific expectations for the Red and Blue, considering just how big and diverse the team is, but if you’re going to force me to pick one event group, then I would have to say that people should expect bigger and better things from Penn’s relay teams in the coming weeks.

Consider Penn’s most recent relay performance at last week’s Sam Howell Invitational. The men’s 4x400-meter relay won with an impressive time of 3:16.74, a mark certainly aided by the presence of veteran sprinter Tom Timmins as the anchor leg. The women’s 4x400m relay team certainly did well in its own right, finishing in fifth place. I expect those strong performances to continue.

And you should expect big things from the 4x100m relay teams looking forward as well, as sprinters like Heather Bong and Brandon Senior get shuffled into coach Steve Dolan’s lineups. Continue reading

Three up, three down: Penn baseball vs. St. Joe’s

 

Three Up Three DownWhat a way to kick off the Ivy season. After starting the 2014 campaign with nine losses in its first 11 games, the Penn baseball team has rebounded, notching 11 consecutive wins, including its first eight in Ivy play. Not bad for a team that won seven Ancient Eight contests all of last season.

But the Quakers still have plenty of work left to do. Before four games against Cornell this upcoming weekend, the Red and Blue (15-10, 8-0 Ivy) take a break to host St. Joseph’s (15-9) on Tuesday in the second round of the Liberty Bell Classic. Let’s take a look at who’s up and who’s down entering the matinee.

Three Up

Rick Brebner: The senior from Langhorne, Pa., is certainly anything but boring. A season after the outfielder finished tied for the team lead in home runs, Brebner has picked up right where he left off — although arguably with even more success in 2014. Playing on a team that packs quite a bit of pop at the plate, Brebner has led the charge of Penn’s home run crusade. In 25 games, the veteran has smacked seven homers and piled on 25 RBI. Brebner’s seven bombs account for slightly more than 10 percent of the home runs hit by the entire Ivy League this year, as the conference’s eight teams have combined for 69 homers overall.

The Quakers on the mound: Everyone knows Connor Cuff is a star on the rubber. But the way Cuff has been neutralizing opponents this season is downright impressive. The junior righty leads the Ivies with a 1.12 ERA and is tied for second with three wins. But juniors Dan Gautieri and Ronnie Glenn and freshman Jake Cousins have all been on top of their games as well this season, combining for a 7-5 record in 14 starts.

Brian O’Keefe: St. Joe’s junior catcher leads the Hawks with a .363 batting average and four home runs and is second on the team with 23 RBI. The Hawks star behind the plate has also generated 13 walks this year, and his .431 on-base percentage is third-best on the team. The Albany, N.Y., native was named Atlantic-10 Player of the Week after last weekend’s series in which he hit .857 and scored seven runs against St. Bonaventure.

Three Down

St. Joe’s on the road: While the Quakers may be the ones getting most of the spotlight right now, the Hawks have had their fair share of success this season. St. Joe’s has won seven of its past 10 games, and currently sits in fourth place in the A-10 after dropping two of three to VCU over the weekend. But the Hawks have struggled on the road, losing five of nine contests away from Smithson Field, and are looking to rebound against Penn at Meiklejohn Stadium.

Penn’s schedule: The past week has been packed for the Quakers. After Penn’s first two Ivy doubleheaders had to be pushed back to March 31 and April 1, respectively, due to rain, the Quakers played five games in a three-day period, including a win over Lafayette to advance in the Liberty Bell Classic. Throw in Penn’s four games against Harvard and Dartmouth, plus Tuesday’s game against St. Joe’s and Wednesday’s matchup with Saint Peter’s, and the Red and Blue will have taken the field 11 times in 10 days.

K’s everywhere: The Hawks are a solid hitting team, as evidenced by their .285 batting average that ranks second in the A-10. But St. Joe’s also strikes out quite a bit — the squad has fanned 170 times this year, 18 more times than its opponents and 11 more times than Penn, a team that has already played one more game.

Roundtable: Which Penn spring sport is in the best Ivy title shape?


This past weekend featured a full plate of action for Penn’s spring sports teams. From John Yurkow’s baseball squad picking up its 11th consecutive victory to the men’s lacrosse team staving off a comeback from pesky Brown, there have been plenty of highlights for the Red and Blue over the past few days. With the spring season far from over, some Penn squads are in better positions than others to compete for Ivy titles. But which team is in the best position? Our editors weigh in.

Sports Editor Riley Steele: When Yurkow was hired over the summer to take the reigns of Penn baseball, I don’t think anybody expected this kind of run from the team. In Yurkow’s first season as skipper, it was fair to expect considerable growing pains. And the Quakers experienced quite a few of them, dropping their first six games of the season and returning home from spring break with a 2-9 record. Since then, this team has been red hot. The Red and Blue have won 11 straight and 13 of 14 overall.

The Quakers' strengths were all on display this weekend. Led by Connor Cuff and bolstered by the addition of freshman Jake Cousins, a deep and experienced pitching staff gave up only 13 runs in four games. Rick Brebner bolstered his Ivy League-leading home run total to seven, and Austin Bossart and Mike Vilardo continue to produce for the Quakers. Now that the Red and Blue sit atop the Ivy League with an undefeated conference record, it’s time for the rest of the Ancient Eight to pay attention. Continue reading

Q&A: Penn baseball coach John Yurkow

Penn baseball is off to a blazing 8-0 start in Ivy League play and is riding an 11-game win streak. We caught up with head coach John Yurkow after his squad swept road doubleheaders against Harvard and Dartmouth this past weekend.

Daily Pennsylvanian: You guys are now 8-0 in Ivy play, having won 11 straight [games] . What do you have to say about how well this team is playing and how confident they are?

John Yurkow: They’re playing really well. Twice, we were down on this trip. They were unfazed even though we went down by a few runs. They weren’t worried about it, they came storming right back. There’s just a really good energy in the dugout right now. It’s fun being around them. They’re playing well.

DP: Would you say that the comeback win in game one against Harvard on Saturday gave you some momentum and energy that carried you guys through the weekend?

JY: Absolutely. They’re a pretty good team. They’re well coached and they threw some pretty good arms out there against us. They hopped on us early, but we were able to bounce back pretty quick. Those are signs of a good team. Continue reading