The Red took three games from Penn this weekend in Philadelphia, Pa., dropping the last game of the series, 4-3, in the bottom of the seventh inning. Solid pitching carried the team, as it only surrendered nine runs in four games to the Quaker offense.
After throwing the baseball team’s first complete-game no-hitter since 1969, sophomore hurler Connor Kaufmann has continued his dominance on the mound. This weekend he blanked the Quakers in the third game of the series, pitching a complete-game, three-hit shutout to carry the Red to a victory.
“Connor has been our go-to guy,” said senior catcher Brandon Lee. “He gives us an opportunity to win, because we know he’ll get out there and throw strikes.”
The sophomore only walked one batter in the game and struck out six, improving his record to 6-1. He is 3-0 with a .66 ERA in Ivy League starts.
“We all expected this to happen this year,” Lee said about Kaufmann. “He showed some promise pitching some innings as a freshman and now he has really blossomed.”
In Kaufmann’s shutout, the Red (27-11-1, 13-3 Ivy League) scored its only three runs with two outs in the first inning. With runners on second and third, senior shortstop Marshall Yanzick scored on a wild pitch, and then senior Frank Hager brought home senior outfielder Brian Billigen with a double. Lee then followed up with an RBI single that plated Hager. It was all the help Kauffmann needed as he continued to send the Quakers back to the bench, allowing only one Penn runner to reach second base.
The squad also got solid starting pitching performances in the first two games by senior Rick Marks and freshman Brian McAfee. Marks allowed five hits and no runs in 6 innings and McAfee gave up three runs on nine hits in 7.1 innings. Freshman Kellen Urbon shut the door in both games, recording saves eight and nine on the season and setting a program record in that category.
The Quakers (16-20, 7-9) did get the best of the Red in the final game, though. Jumping out to an early lead, the Quaker offense put up three runs in the first two innings off freshman starter Brent Jones, who went 4.2 innings. The Red did not go down easy, but came roaring back in the top of the sixth with three runs off a double by Hager, a reach-on-error by Lee and an RBI single by sophomore Ben Swinford to tie the game. The bullpen combination of freshmen Nick Busto and Houston Hawley was able to keep the Quakers off the board until the bottom of the seventh, when they scored an unearned run to win the game.
“At that point we had already take[n] three games from Penn,” Lee said. “The infield wasn’t the best … I don’t think the loss is in any way misleading.”
Because Cornell recorded three more wins this weekend and Princeton dropped three games to Columbia, the Red can now take a three game lead in the Lou Gehrig Division of the Ivy League into the final series next weekend. The squad only needs one win against the Tigers in order to clinch its second division title since 1993.
“We’re aware that one is the magic number,” Lee said. “Obviously taking things one game at a time is the biggest thing, but we’d love to go take three or four games from [Princeton] and carry some momentum into the [Ivy Championship].”
On the other side of the conference, Dartmouth (17-15, 11-5) sits atop the Red Rolfe Division. The Ivy League team with the best record at the end of conference play hosts the Championship series. The Red also has a tiebreaker on Dartmouth, because it swept the season series, meaning the squad could also clinch home-field advantage with a few wins this weekend.
“Having [home-field advantage] would be huge for us,” Lee said. “It looks like Dartmouth will win the other side and playing there is somewhat hostile and they play really well at home. Making them make the seven or eight hour drive down to us and having our fans behind us would give us a big advantage.”