|Simpson (L, 4-3)||4.0||5||4||4||0||3|
NEW YORK — The magic ran out for the Columbia baseball team as Penn took a 6-3 victory to claim the Gehrig Division title in a one-game playoff Sunday afternoon. The Quakers (23-20) blasted three home runs and received some timely defense to hold off the Lions (18-23), who attempted to come-from-behind for the fifth straight contest.
Columbia and Penn each had nine hits, but the Lions stranded eight baserunners and the Quakers used three double plays to prevent a repeat result from last weekend.
Penn applied the pressure early, like they did in all four games last weekend, using a triple and a two-run blast by Tim Graul to grab the lead. Matt O'Neill made it 3-0 with a leadoff homer in the top of the second before starter Josh Simpson settled in.
Simpson retired seven straight batters to keep Columbia within striking distance and Shane Adams roped an RBI single to bring in Liam McGill to cut the deficit to two. However, the Quakers answered with a pair in the top of the fifth.
Daniel Halevy took a 0-1 pitch down the rightfield line and wound up with a triple after a funny carom in the corner. Matt Tola followed with a double off the short wall, just out of the reach in Adams in center, to restore a three-run lead and two fly balls brought in another insurance run to make it 5-1.
Matt Karo put a charge into one for his second homer of the year to begin the bottom of the frame, but Sean Phelan erased that run with a solo home run of his own in the sixth.
The Lions tried to mount a rally in the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back singles from McGill and Chandler Bengtson, but Jake Cousins buckled down, getting a foul out and a 4-6-3 double play to wiggle out of trouble.
In the seventh, Penn threatened to break the game open by loading the bases. However, Ian Burns induced a fly out to shallow left and Adams made a diving catch to end the inning and prevent any runs from coming across. Karo manufactured a run on his own to bring Columbia within 6-3. The catcher led things off with a hit by pitch, moved to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a ground out to the right side and slid underneath reliever Adam Bleday after a ball in the dirt squirted to the wall by the Penn on-deck circle.
After two strong innings of relief from Ty Wiest, the Lions had one last chance to come back in the bottom of the ninth. Karo notched his second hit of the day with a single, but Bleday forced a ground ball for the Quakers' final double play of the game. The next batter hit a soft pop into the glove of Phelan at first to give Penn its first division title since 2007.
Eight of nine Lions' starters recorded a hit in the game, led by Karo's 2-for-3 effort. Bengtson will take a 16-game hitting streak into his junior campaign.
Simpson (4-3) was charged with the loss after allowing four runs on five hits. He struck out three. Wiest allowed just one hit and struck out four in his two innings of work.