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Baseball Suffers 3-2 Losses in Doubleheader at Penn

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Jeff Keller had a single and three doubles in the doubleheader.     By Gil Talbot

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — The Penn baseball team handed visiting Dartmouth a pair of 3-2 losses in the first two games of the Ivy League season for both teams on Saturday at Meiklejohn Stadium. Michael Vilardo hit the game-winning two-run double in the fifth of the seven-inning opener, and Austin Bossart lofted a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth to give the Quakers (15-7, 2-0 Ivy) the sweep.

Seniors Cole Sulser and Kyle Hunter went the distance on the mound in the two games for Dartmouth (12-3, 0-2 Ivy) as the Big Green suffered consecutive losses for the first time in almost exactly one year.

Connor Cuff (4-1) outdueled Sulser in the first game, winning his fourth straight start by hurling all seven innings. He surrendered the two runs on seven hits and a walk with seven strikeouts.

Freshman Joe Purritano gave the Big Green a 1-0 lead in the second inning of the opening game with his first collegiate home run, a solo shot to right-center. In the bottom of the fourth, however, Ryan Deitrich tied the game with a four-bagger of his own, his third of 2013 and the first hit of the game for the Quakers.

Dartmouth quickly responded in the top half of the fifth as junior Jeff Keller led off with a double, took third on a fly to right and trotted home on a single to left off the bat of freshman Nick Ruppert.

But Penn had an answer of its own against the right-hander Sulser (2-1). Gary Tesch poked a single to right with one down and Brandon Engelhardt was hit by a pitch. Both runners moved up a base on a balk, then Michael Vilardo ripped a double to right to score both runners and give the Quakers a 3-2 lead.

In the sixth, the Big Green could not take advantage of senior Ennis Coble’s one-out double, then stranded the tying run at second in the seventh and final frame as well.

Sulser (2-1) suffered just the fourth loss of 21 decisions in his career — by surrendering the three runs on four hits, a walk and a hit batter while fanning eight over six innings.

As in the first game, the Big Green jumped on top with an early run, but had an opportunity for more. Sophomore Matt Parisi drew a walk to start the contest but was forced at second on a fielder’s choice. After Coble singled, junior Dustin Selzer reached on another fielder’s choice, but Penn failed to get to an out to load the bases. Sophomore Nick Lombardi walked to force in a run, but Quaker hurler Jeff McGarry induced a double play to strand two runners in scoring position.

In the second, Spencer Branigan led off with a double for Penn, took third on a grounder to short and raced home on Mitch Montaldo’s sacrifice fly to center to knot the score at one apiece.

Hunter and McGarry held both teams in check into the seventh inning, though Dartmouth had several chances to take the lead, leaving two men on in the third and sixth and another in each of the fourth and fifth frames. The Big Green put two more runners on in the seventh, leading to Penn calling to the bullpen for John Beasley, who threw one pitch and got a double play to end the inning with the score still tied at one.

With that emotional lift, the Quakers started the bottom half with back-to-back doubles by Branigan and Bossart to take a one-run lead. Hunter escaped without any more damage when an infield hit turned into two outs as the Dartmouth defense caught both Bossart and the hitter Montaldo wandering too far off their bases.

Keller tied the game up in the eighth with his third double of the doubleheader, scoring Purritano from first after he walked. But the Big Green could not get Keller home, leaving him stranded at third to end the inning.

In the ninth, Hunter walked just his second batter of the game, but it was Deitrich leading off the stanza. A passed ball allowed him to take second, and a grounder to second sent him to third with one out. Bossart then swatted the first pitch he saw out to right, deep enough to score Deitrich and end the game.

Hunter (1-1) finished game having thrown just 106 pitches in his 8.2 innings, yielding three runs, two earned, on seven hits and two walks while fanning four. Beasley (1-0) tossed the final 2.2 frames to earn the victory, allowing one to score on a hit and two walks.

Coble was perfect at the plate in the second game, recording four hits for the sixth time in his career. Keller had two doubles, and Parisi had the only other Big Green hit.

Dartmouth will try to get back on track tomorrow when it plays at Columbia (9-12, 2-0 Ivy), which swept a doubleheader today against Harvard,  5-0 and 3-2. First pitch is slated for noon.

Notes: The last time the Big Green lost consecutive games was April 1-2 last year at Cornell ... Lombardi extended his hitting streak to 14 games in the first game of the doubleheader, but went 0-for-3 in game two.