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NEW YORK — Trailing by six going into the bottom of the ninth, the Columbia baseball team stunned defending Ivy League Champs, Yale, by plating seven runs to earn an 11-10 victory in its conference and home opener Saturday afternoon. Randell Kanemaru, who was 4-for-6 on the day, started the rally with a leadoff single and delivered walk-off single to the gap to win it in the ninth.
The Lions (4-15, 1-0) led 4-2 after six and a half innings, thanks in part from solo homers from Chandler Bengtson and Liam McGill. However, the Bulldogs (3-12, 0-1) loaded the bases in the top of the eighth and Harry Hegeman emptied them with a double to the gap in right-center to put Yale in front.
In the top of the ninth, a pair of infield hits started a five-run outburst, keyed by RBI hits from Cal Christofori, Tom Ruddy
Kanemaru ripped the first pitch he saw in his first ninth-inning at-bat right at the third baseman, who could not handle it to kick things off. The next three batters each notched singles, and with the Lions going station-to-station, Bengtson’s knock brought in Kanemaru to make it a five-run game with no outs.
Joe Engel was then beaned with no empty bases and Julian Bury looped in a single to shallow center to put the tying run on base. AJ DiFillipo worked a walk, becoming the winning score at first base. Pinch-hitter Griffin Williams followed with a slow chopper to the second baseman, who opted to flip to second for a force play, but his toss was wide of the bag to tie the score still with nobody away.
With DiFillipo standing on second, Kanemaru used the opposite field in right-center for the game-winning hit, sending the Lions dugout and fans at Robertson Field at Satow Stadium into a frenzy.
Billy Black recorded the final out in the top of the ninth to earn his first collegiate victory. Ty Wiest started, allowing one run on three hits, but walked four. Leo Pollack had his groundball pitch working and came up with a pair of key double plays during his 3.0 inning outing.
Kanemaru’s streak of 37 consecutive games reaching base is now the longest active one in the country after Kansas State’s Will Brennan’s run ended at 43 games Friday.
After Yale starter Scott Politz retired the first nine batters he faced, the Lions erupted for a season-high 19 hits. McGill, Matt Cerfolio
Politz fanned seven batters in seven innings, but worked out of trouble from the fourth inning one, surrendering three earned runs on 12 hits. Griffin Dey (0-3) was the pitcher of record after putting DiFillipo on in the ninth.
Hegeman was 2-for-3 on the day with five of the team’s 10 RBI.
The Lions and Bulldogs will wrap up their series Sunday, March 25 with a doubleheader. Game one is slated for an 11:30 a.m. start and game two will begin approximately 30 minutes after. Both contests will be broadcast on the Ivy League Network.