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Baseball avoids sweep but loses 2 of 3 against Penn

Senior Ryan Smith started Game 1 for Princeton against Penn. Photo Credit: Mark Dodici / The Daily Princetonian
Senior Ryan Smith started Game 1 for Princeton against Penn. Photo Credit: Mark Dodici / The Daily Princetonian

This past weekend, Princeton baseball (7–21 overall, 4–8 Ivy League) traveled to Meiklejohn Stadium at the University of Pennsylvania for three games against Penn (19–11, 8–4), hoping to come away with their first Ivy League series win of the 2019 season. That goal would not be achieved, as Princeton dropped games one and two of the series 15–9 and 1–0, respectively. The Tigers were, however, able to come together and avoid the series sweep with a big 7–2 win in the series finale.

The series opened on Friday afternoon in Philadelphia with a high-scoring affair. Princeton was locked in a tie game until the bottom of the sixth inning when the Quakers put a four spot on the board, jumping out to a 7–3 lead. Princeton answered right back with four runs of their own to tie it up at 7–7 in the seventh, behind clutch hits from junior outfielder Chris Davis. Penn proved to be too much for the Tigers in the end, putting up seven runs on five hits in the bottom of the eighth inning to put the game out of hand before eventually taking the contest by a score of 15–9.

After putting up 24 runs in game one, the two teams could only scratch across one combined run in game two. Junior pitcher James Proctor was masterful on the mound, striking out five batters across eight innings of one-run, five-hit baseball. That run served to be the difference maker, as Princeton was not able to produce a run in the penultimate game of the series, and — despite out-hitting the Quakers 6–5 — dropped the game by a score of 1–0.

After two tough losses to open the series, the Tigers pulled through in a big way in the final game of the series before heading back to Princeton on Saturday. The Tigers pushed across seven runs in the top of the second inning behind the bats of Ramzi Haddad, Chris Davis, David Harding, and Conor Nolan. The second inning alone proved to be enough for Princeton, as junior pitcher Andrew Gnazzo, who has pitched very well so far this season, gave up only two runs through six innings of work to help the Tigers to a 7–2 victory.

The 2019 season has not necessarily gotten off to the start that Princeton Baseball had hoped for, and the Tigers currently stand with a 4–8 record against Ivy League opponents and a 7–21 record overall. The Tigers have certainly shown that they can compete with any team in the Ivy League, given that they’ve recorded a win against every Ivy League opponent so far this season. Their problem is that they’ve only been able to do just that, coming away with exactly one in each of their three-game series against conference opponents this year.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t closed out some of the games that were in our reach in some of our league series,” said sophomore infielder Jake Boone of the team’s struggles in conference play thus far. Boone has been one of the team’s best hitters so far this season, leading the team with 36 hits out of the two spot in the batting order.

Despite the way things have gone for the Tigers so far, Boone has a positive outlook for the remainder of the Princeton season. “I think it is just a matter of bringing everyone together moving forward. We have shown that we can beat any Ivy League opponent, so it is just about maintaining focus and effort through these next few weekends to close out our season strong.”

Looking ahead, the Tigers will host Rider at Clarke Field on Wednesday before going back on the road to Ithaca, New York for a three-game set with Cornell. Princeton will look for their first Ivy League Series win against Cornell, who currently sits at the bottom of the Ivy League with a 3–9 conference record (8–19 overall).