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Baseball’s Lou Gehrig chances dwindle as they lose three of four to Penn

PHILADELPHIA, Penn. – The Cornell Big Red dropped three of four on a trip to Philadelphia, Penn. to the Penn Quakers. Cornell earned a split on Saturday but dropped both on Sunday to fall to 6-10 in Ivy League play and likely end their chances of winning the Lou Gehrig division title. Here are the recaps from a disappointing weekend for the Big Red:

Game One: CORNELL 2, UPENN 13

From a Cornell perspective, the less said about game one of this series, the better. The Quakers decimated the Big Red 13-2 in a seven-inning game. Penn only batted in six innings, and recorded 18 hits in those six innings.

Paul Balestrieri started and took the loss for the Big Red to drop his record to 2-5 on the season. He gave up 10 runs, all earned, on 14 hits over the course of four innings. His counterpart, Jake Cousins of Penn, had a spectacular day: He struck out 11 in six innings of work while only giving up two earned runs. He also picked up the win to improve his record to 4-3.

The game started well for the Cornell as Cole Rutherford continued his hot hitting with an RBI double to drive in CJ Price in the top of the first. Price and Rutherford would each pick up two hits in game one, accounting for four of Cornell’s six hits.

Penn picked up two in the bottom of the second on a Matt O’Neill home run. The game stayed close until the bottom of the fourth, where the Quakers plated three more.

The bottom of the fifth was an unmitigated disaster for the Cornell pitching staff; Penn scored eight runs and did not record an out until the 11th batter of the inning. The rest of the game was merely a formality after the Quaker onslaught. Bradley Wilpon, son of Mets COO Jeff, closed out the game for Penn.

Game Two: CORNELL 7, UPENN 4

Cornell responded well in game 2, winning a back-and-forth affair to even the series. Peter Lannoo pitched a complete game to earned the win in a 7-4 game, he improved his record to 3-2 on the year.

Lannoo had solid stuff, but did allow quite a few base runners on nine hits, two walks and three batters hit. To his credit, he worked out of trouble frequently, and only allowed four runs, two of which were earned. He struck out eight, included all three in the bottom of the ninth to close out a much-needed win.

Penn scored two in the first, but it could have been much worse. With runners on the corners and two outs, Penn right fielder Matt Greskoff hit a deep fly ball to left center field, but Ellis Bitar, playing left field as opposed to his usual positions behind the plate, made a spectacular diving catch to rob Greskoff and save two runs.

Cornell scored one in the second on a Josh Arndt RBI double, but afterwards Lannoo and Penn starter Gabe Kleiman settled in to keep both offenses off the board until the bottom of the sixth, when Penn scored another to extend their lead to 3-1.

Cornell scored two in the top of the seventh to tie the game off of reliever Adam Bleday. Penn would retake the lead in the bottom of the inning on a Tim Graul solo home run.

Cornell would take a lead that they would relinquish in a four run eighth inning. Three Penn relievers pitched in the inning, Bleday, Mitch Holtz who took the loss in the game to drop to 0-2 and Jake Nelson. With the game tied after a Mark Fraser RBI double, Dale Wickham hit what looked like a two run homer to straightaway center field, but the umpires ruled that the ball hit the wall and not the net above the wall. Wickham ended up on third with the go ahead triple, and Cornell would score two more to take a 7-4 lead.

Lannoo shut Penn down in the eighth and ninth to close out the game for the Big Red, and set up a dramatic Sunday afternoon where each team could earn the series win with a sweep.

Game 3: CORNELL 2, UPENN 3

Cornell lost a heartbreaker in the early game on Sunday in extra innings as Penn won 3-2. The game was originally slated to last 7 innings but went to 10, Penn scored three in the bottom of the tenth after Cornell took the lead in the top of the inning.

Justin Lewis got the start for and pitched well, only giving up a single run the bottom of the first on a Matt O’Neill RBI groundout. The sophomore lefty scattered eight hits, struck out two and walked one.

Cole Rutherford hit a monster home run the top of the second inning onto I-76 to even the score. It was the junior’s sixth homer of the season.

After the Rutherford blast, Penn southpaw starter Mike Reitcheck settled in brilliantly: he pitched nine innings, going the original seven plus the first two extra frames. Reitcheck allowed seven hits, but also struck out six without walking a batter.

Rob Pannullo relieved Lewis in the seventh and pitched three effective innings in relief, working out of a jam in the bottom of the eighth.

Mitch Holtz replaced Reicheck on the hill for Penn in the tenth. Parker Morris greeted him with a leadoff double. Holtz then plunked both Ellis Bitar and C.J. Price to load the bases, and Fraser drove in Morris to give Cornell the go ahead run in extra innings. Cornell would fail to extend their lead, which would prove crucial.

Michael Byrne was tasked with closing the Quakers out, but he allowed consecutive double by O’Neill and Tim Graul, who went 8-10 on Sunday with four doubles and a homer, to blow the save. After the bases were loaded with two outs, Jamie Flynn, who had replaced Byrne, hit Chris Rabasco to drive in Graul for the walk-off run.

Game 4: CORNELL 5, UPENN 16

This game started perfectly for Cornell when Ellis Bitar hit a leadoff home run, his second, but went downhill quickly from there as Penn ended up crushing the Big Red 16-5.

Tim Willittes got the start and gave up four runs in the bottom of the first, including a two-run Matt Greskoff homer. Willittes would not escape the second, as he and Austin Wahl combined to give up for more in the second inning.

Penn would score runs in every inning but the third, as they hit every Cornell pitcher hard. Adam Saks delivered the only scoreless frame and pitched admirably, giving the Big Red innings when the most needed them.

Jordan Winawer, who has been struggling this year, notched two hits and a run scored in the loss.

Penn starter Billy Lescher pitched well to earn the win and improve to 5-2. Wahl took the loss, he falls to 0-2 on the year.

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