Men’s baseball (8–16 overall, 5–4 Ivy) continued its Ivy League conference schedule this weekend with a three-game home series against Penn (11–19, 5–6–1). The team received an absolute gem of a pitching performance in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader from senior righthanded pitcher Ben Gross, who threw his first ever complete-game shutout in a 3–0 win, but still lost the series after falling 7–2 and 10–1 in the other two games.
The weekend’s results brought Princeton’s conference record to 5–4, dropping them from second place to fourth place in the Ivy League standings. The two teams with the best regular season conference record will play each other in a three-game championship series for the Ivy League title.
In Friday’s series opener, Princeton got off to an early 1–0 lead on a second-inning single from junior catcher Alex Dickinson. Junior lefthanded pitcher Ryan Smith was solid through the first five innings for Princeton, keeping Penn off the board to preserve the one-run lead for the Tigers. In the top of the sixth, however, the Quaker offense woke up. Penn scored six runs in the inning, chasing Smith from the game. Princeton struggled to generate offense throughout the game, finishing with just four hits, and was unable to mount a comeback on Penn’s bullpen, losing by a final score of 7–2.
Going into the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, Princeton needed a stellar performance from their ace Gross, and that’s exactly what they got. Gross allowed nine hits but conceded no runs, holding Penn scoreless for nine innings to record the complete-game shutout. Princeton’s offense was not spectacular, but it was efficient enough to give Gross the cushion he needed. Junior outfielder Jesper Horsted led the way, going 3–4 with an RBI single in the first inning, and Princeton added runs in the third and fourth innings en route to a 3–0 victory.
Princeton was unable to capitalize off the momentum from the early game Saturday, getting blown out 10–1 in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader. Sophomore righthanded pitcher Andrew Gnazzo gave up five runs in the first inning and was pulled from the game immediately afterwards. The game would not get any closer from that point, as the Princeton bullpen conceded five more runs over the course of the game, and the Princeton offense did not manage to score until the ninth inning.
This weekend, the team will begin its busiest and most important stretch of the season. They will play nine games in nine days, beginning with a road series against Columbia (12–21, 8–4) this weekend, continuing with a weekday home series, rescheduled from earlier this year, against Harvard (14–16, 4–5), and finishing next weekend with another home series against Yale (15–15, 9–3).
With so many games left to play, Princeton will certainly have the opportunity to return to the top of the Ivy League standings. If the Tigers wish to do so, however, they will need to play better than they did this weekend.