The No. 7 Cornell baseball team (7-18, 3-9 Ivy) hit the road this past weekend to face No. 2 Penn (22-9, 9-2 Ivy).
The Red looked to bounce back against a new Ivy foe after a 1-2 series loss at the hands of Princeton the weekend prior. However, Penn’s overpowering pitching staff was no match for the Cornell bats, as the Red got swept by the Quakers in the three game series.
Game one of Saturday’s doubleheader was dominated by Penn’s potent offense and shut-down pitching. The Red quickly jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning after an RBI groundout by freshman first-baseman Max Jensen, but after that it was all Penn. The Quakers scored 10 unanswered runs and took a 10-1 victory.
“Penn has a deep program with talent across the board,” said junior right-fielder Sam Kaplan. “Their pitching staff was successful in keeping our hitters off balance.”
Saturday’s afternoon game similarly featured a breakout performance by the Penn offense. They jumped out to an early 4-0 lead by the bottom of the third inning. In the top of the eighth, Cornell looked to rally and make up a 2-6 deficit. The inning started off with back-to-back singles by junior third-baseman Joe Hollerbach and Jensen, kicking the Quaker’s starting pitcher out of the game.
Next, Penn’s relief pitcher struck out the following batter, then induced a ground ball that was incorrectly fielded by the shortstop. Hollerbach scored the Red’s third run on the throwing error, but that was all they would get in the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, Penn immediately responded and blew the game wide open with a RBI double and a three-run homer to bring the score to 10-3.
“On the hitting side, Penn took advantage of our pitchers’ mistakes and had timely hits,” Kaplan said.
Cornell would go on to score one more run at the top of the ninth, but it would not be enough, as they fell to the Quakers 4-10.
In the series finale on Sunday, the Red was determined to avoid the sweep. Penn scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning, but Cornell responded immediately. They scored one in the second, via a sac-fly by freshman shortstop Ryan Porter, and four more in the fourth, courtesy of a fielding error by the Quakers and a three-run homer by Kaplan. The Red led the game 6-3 by the end of the fifth, its largest lead of the series so far.
The sixth proved to be a pivotal inning. Penn’s relentless offense scored 11 runs off of four different Cornell pitchers, not only making up the three-run deficit, but taking an ultimately insurmountable eight run lead. They would go on to win the final game 15-6 and sweep the series.
Despite the team’s overall poor performance, the Red is determined to put the weekend behind them and focus on its future Ivy series.
“Obviously, the team is very disappointed in our performance at Penn,” Kaplan said. “However, the best thing for the team is to move forward, learn from our mistakes, and get mentally and physically prepared for our series at home this weekend against Dartmouth.”
Next weekend, the team will host No. 3 Dartmouth (16-13, 8-4 Ivy) at Hoy Field. But, before they face a new Ivy opponent, the team hopes to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses to see where improvements must be made, on both team and individual levels.
“Baseball is a team game, and whenever you lose, everyone has to look at themselves in the mirror and see what they can do better to help the team,” Kaplan said. “To get the results we want, we need to be consistent in every facet of the game moving forward.”
Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader is at 11:30 a.m., with the second game scheduled for 2:30 p.m. The series finale will take place on Sunday at noon.