PRINCETON, N.J. – The Columbia baseball team reached the 20-win plateau Sunday with a doubleheader split against the Princeton Tigers, falling in game one 2-0, but bouncing back with a stellar 10-2 win in game two.
The Lions (20-17) are now 12-4 in the Ivy League and hold a three-game lead over Cornell (21-14, 9-7 Ivy) and Princeton (12-25, 9-7 Ivy) in the Lou Gehrig Division. Columbia also holds a one-game advantage over Rolfe Division leader Dartmouth, who is 11-5 in conference action. The division leader with the best Ivy League record will serve as the host of the Ivy League Championship scheduled for May 4-5.
The Lions have just six regular season games remaining, with a midweek trip to Fordham set for Wednesday, prior to the final Ancient Eight series against Penn next weekend. Columbia will host Penn Friday, April 26 at Satow Stadium, before the teams head down to Philadelphia for the final two games of the series on Saturday, April 27.
GAME ONE RECAP
Princeton’s Mike Ford moved to 5-0 on the season, propelling the Tigers to a 2-0 victory in the first game Sunday afternoon. Ford gave up just five hits during the complete game, two of those coming off the bat of Aaron Silbar who went 2-for-3 for the Lions.
The Tigers were able to take an early lead in the bottom of the first inning, taking advantage of miscues by the Lions. Alec Keller and Mike Ford both singled and then moved up to second and third on an error by the Lions’ right fielder. Steve Harrington loaded up the bases with walk, bringing Alex Flink to the plate. The senior gave the Tigers a 1-0 advantage, getting hit by a pitch to force home Keller. Columbia starting pitcher Tim Giel was able to avoid any more damage in the inning, getting Johnny Mishu to pop out and then striking out Billy Arendt to end the inning.
Princeton would extend the lead to 2-0 with another run in the bottom of the fourth. Danny Hoy would garner credit for the RBI, sending a one-out sacrifice fly out to centerfield, plating Nate Baird.
Despite the good performance from Ford, Columbia did have its chances in the contest, with their best opportunities to score coming in the second and fourth innings.
In both frames, the Lions put a pair of base runners aboard. Silbar tallied his first hit in the second and David Vandercook walked, but the Tigers got out of the inning with a fielder’s choice out at third and then a pop up. In the fourth, Eric Williams and Jordan Serena recorded back-to-back singles, but Ford buckled down and got Alex Black to fly out and then Joey Falcone to ground out to end the inning.
Although he suffered his third loss of the season, Giel pitched well for the Lions, striking out seven, allowing eight hits and two runs (one earned).
GAME TWO RECAP
The second game Sunday proved to be a welcomed change for the Lions, as the bats that struggled in the first game produced 12 hits and 10 runs to power Columbia to a 10-2 victory. Centerfielder Jordan Serena led the charge with a 4-for-4 showing and scoring four times, while Nick Ferraresi, Silbar and Vandercook each drove in a pair of runs.
Starting pitcher Adam Cline gave up just two runs on four hits before giving way to Kevin Roy and Stefan Olson who held the Tigers scoreless over the final five innings. Roy garnered credit for his first win of the season, throwing three hitless innings, while his teammates at the dish added four runs over the sixth and seventh inning to break a 2-2 tie.
The Lions struck in the opening half inning, this time taking advantage of mistakes in the field by Princeton. Serena reached first safely with a single to left field and then showed why he is the Ivy League leader in steals, nabbing second during Joey Falcone’s at bat. With two outs, Falcone slapped a ball to short, but an error by Arendt allowed him to reach safely, while Serena raced home to put Columbia up 1-0.
Columbia doubled its lead two innings later, with Serena coming in to score for the second time. Serena and Alex Black both earned walks with one out before a Falcone fly out allowed the Lions’ lead runner to move up to third. Ferraresi then stepped into the batter’s box and knocked single to left to make it 2-0 in favor of Columbia as Serena crossed the plate.
Princeton fired right back in the bottom of the third, plating a pair to even the score at 2-2. Baird and Keller reached on a walk and single, respectively, before Ford hit a single to center to drive in Baird. Harrington followed with a single through the right side to plate Keller and knot the contest.
The fourth and fifth innings would pass without a change in the score, but the Lions’ offense came alive again in the following two frames, scoring twice in both the sixth and seventh.
Nick Crucet produced what would be the game-winning RBIs with one swing of the bat in the sixth. Ferraressi opened the inning with a double to left and then Vandercook was intentionally walked to give the Lions two runners on with one out. Two batters later, after a Vandercook steal put a pair of base runners in scoring position, Crucet ripped a single to left that scored both Lions, putting Columbia up 4-2.
In the seventh, Black provided an insurance RBI when his single to center brought home Serena once again. On the play, Black made his way all the way to third on a pair of errors by the Tigers. Two batters later, Ferraresi slapped another base hit, scoring Black and increasing the Columbia lead to 6-2.
The solid Columbia pitching continued to keep Princeton from getting back into the contest late, while the Lions’ bats refused to cool off as they added four more runs in the top of the ninth. Silbar and Vandercook each plated a pair of Columbia base runners to put the exclamation point on the win. Silbar sent a double down the left field line to score Black and Serena, while Vandercook’s single scored Silbar and Logan Boyher.
Next up for Columbia will be a short trip to Fordham on Wednesday, April 24 for an out-of-conference doubleheader. The games will serve as a fundraiser for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which raises money for children’s cancer research. Members of both teams will have the opportunity to have their heads shaved to raise money for the cause. If you would like more information, please visit the Columbia St. Baldrick’s site HERE.