PHILADELPHIA, April 2, 2011 – The University of Pennsylvania Baseball team swept Harvard in Ivy League baseball action winning the first game 8 – 1, then winning the nightcap 8 – 7 in 12 innings at Meiklejohn Stadium. It was two different types of wins for Penn. In the first game Penn broke out early and got a complete game win from Senior right-handed Pitcher Paul Cusick. The second game showed the ability of Penn to come back as the Red and Blue win it with a game winning sacrifice fly by pinch hitter Sophomore Spencer Branigan.
“When you get a sweep of a home double-header, or any Ivy League double-header, you’ve got to be pleased,” said Penn Coach John Cole about the effort it took to win. “Harvard battled, we battled, and I was pleased with our resiliency.”
The Quakers took game one as Cusick gave up 1 run and 5 hits en route to his third win of the year against 2 losses. Cusick struck out 12 batters, walked 1, and allowed no earned runs. The complete game performance would pay dividends in game two as Penn used no relief pitchers in this game, but needed four relievers later that day.
“He was dominating,” said Cole. “It was good because it saved our bullpen, and we needed them in the second game. Being able to space and carry that game from the fourth inning on allowed us to win it.”
The offense was supplied by #3 and #4 hitters Senior Left Fielder Jeremy Maas and Senior Catcher Will Davis. Each batter had 2 hits and 2 runs scored with Maas adding an RBI to his team-leading 18 for the season. Junior Shortstop Derek Vigoa had 2 RBI’s, and Freshman First Baseman hit his first home run of the season.
The second game saw Penn commit 6 errors, yet overcame that getting the extra inning win. Penn put 6 runs on the board in the first inning erasing a 3 – 0 Harvard lead. Sophomore Center Fielder Greg Zebrack had the big hit with a 3-Run home run, his first of the year.
“We played as poor defensively as we’ve played all year,” Cole said. “To win a game when you played so poorly is a good sign for us.”
Harvard starting pitcher Max Perlman settled down giving up only one more run in his 7 innings of work.
“He’s good and he mixes his pitches,” said Cole about Perlman. “I was not happy with the way we approached it. We were hitting underneath the ball instead of staying on top of it, and putting pressure on Harvard.”
Harvard would comeback as scored 1 in the third, 2 in the fourth and a run in the fifth to take a 7 – 6 lead. Penn starter Freshman Matt Gotschall lasted into the 4th inning as Harvard giving up 6 runs. However, in the fourth inning the Crimson got 2 runs on no hits taking advantage of 2 Penn errors. Harvard got their last run of the game as Designated Hitter Marcus Way delivered his third home run to Center Field off Junior Relief Pitcher Patrick Brennan. Penn tied the game in the 6th as an RBI Double down the third base line by Vigoa scored pinch runner Sophomore Kirk Hayes.
Harvard would score no more. Freshman Pitcher Alex Ott took the mound in the 7th for Penn striking out pinch hitter Cole Aldridge. Sophomore John Beasley and Freshman Cody Thomson went the rest of the way.
Each team had chances, but Penn finally broke through in the 12th loading the bases on Harvard reliever Ben Sestanovich. Branigan came to the plate and his game winning sacrifice fly scored Senior Third Baseman Dan Williams to end the game. Thomson got win number 3 against 2 losses.
Penn evened their season record to 10 – 1o, and win the first two league games against no losses. The Red and Blue came back three times to earn the win.
“We talk about toughness,” said Cole. “Every team in the Ivy League is the same in this league. It comes down to whose will is stronger and not give in.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian