Penn baseball opens NCAA Tournament against Auburn

The Quakers are Ivy League champs for the first time since 1995
Penn baseball team
Photo credit Ryan Samson

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — For the first time since 1995, the University of Pennsylvania baseball team is heading to the NCAA Championship Tournament. The Quakers, who are champions of the Ivy League, will open up play in the double-elimination regionals Friday at 7 p.m. against host Auburn.

Penn, 32-14, swept through the Ivy League Tournament, going 3-0 while outscoring their opponents 36-16 en route to the Ancient 8 title.

“Our starting pitching was great all year,” said head coach John Yurkow. “The front of the rotation was [senior left-hander] Owen Coady, [junior right-hander] Cole Zaffiro and then [right-hander] Ryan Drombowski, who really came on as a sophomore and was named the pitcher of the year in our league.”

Drombowski is 7-2 with an ERA of 2.87. Zaffiro is 5-2 with a 3.09 ERA, while Coady sports a 3.03 ERA and a record of 5-3.

Auburn comes into Friday night with a record of 34-21-1.

“They're really balanced,” Yurkow said of the Tigers. “They can really swing it. They have a lot of power up and down the lineup — some older players, experienced kids. They made a really good run last year. I think they went up in Omaha last year [for the College World Series]. So, you’re playing a team that’s kind of battle-tested.”

Overall, he said Auburn’s starting pitching is solid, and they have good bullpen arms and defense. “So it’s going to be a challenge for us, for sure,” he added.

The Quakers will enter a tough environment at Auburn’s Plainsman Park, but Yurkow said they have been preparing for this moment.

“We started our season off playing South Carolina, obviously another SEC team. The year before, we opened up our season down at Texas A&M, another SEC team, and the mindset and the thought process behind that is to try to play those teams early in the season, to get our guys comfortable going into what is going to be a hostile regional environment.”

Yurkow said his Quakers just have to keep it simple.

“The strength of our team is our pitching, and I think if we get our good start and we can keep a game close, we get it to those bullpen arms. I like our chances.”

The other two teams in the regional with Penn and Auburn are Southern Miss and Samford. They will play Friday afternoon.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Ryan Samson