NEW YORK – After winning the Gehrig Division with a program-best 16-4 record, Columbia will face Dartmouth in the best-of-three Ivy League Championship Series this weekend at Robertson Field at Satow Stadium.
|Game 1||Dartmouth vs. Columbia||Saturday, May 4||12:00 noon|
|Game 2||Columbia vs. Dartmouth||Saturday, May 4||3:00 p.m. (approx)|
|Game 3 (if necessary)||Dartmouth vs. Columbia||Sunday, May 5||1:00 p.m.|
Columbia clinched the 2013 regular season Ivy League championship after sweeping Penn last weekend to earn the right to host the Ivy League Championship Series. The Lions closed out the regular season in style with a 24-19 overall record and program-best 16-4 Ivy League mark. This weekend marks the first time the Lions have played in and hosted the Ivy League Championship series since 2010, when Columbia fell to Dartmouth despite a hard-fought run. The Lions’ last Ivy League title came on the road against the Big Green back in 2008.
The Lions captured their fourth 2013 Lou Gehrig Division title in day one’s doubleheader over Penn last weekend. After a dramatic walk-off home run by sophomore Joey Falcone to steal game one from Penn, 3-2, Columbia roared to a 14-1 victory in game two to clinch the division title. The Lions kept things rolling the next day with 1-0 and 6-4 victories in Philadelphia to ensure home field advantage in the championship series.
Pitching has been the catalyst for Columbia’s success during conference action. The Lions lead the Ancient Eight in ERA during conference play at 1.94. Columbia has thrown a league-high 162 innings, striking out 153 batters and has given up just 35 earned runs in 20 games.
David Speer has been the spearhead of the Columbia pitching staff, leading the Ivy League with a 5-0-conference record and a 1.06 ERA. The junior’s overall ERA of 1.83 places him fifth in the Ivy League and ranks as the 55th lowest in the nation. Speer also ranks seventh in the country with four complete games this season. Columbia has also received stellar outings from Joey Donino and Tim Giel. Donino is unbeaten in conference contests at 4-0, checking in with a 1.74 ERA. Giel has been a strikeout machine, mowing down a league-high 57 opposing hitters for an average of 11.4 sit downs per nine innings which is the sixth highest total in the nation. Additionally, he leads the league with 36 strikeouts in conference-only contests.
At the plate, the Lions have used a variation of power and speed to produce runs. With seven home runs this season, Alex Black leads the Ivy League, while slugging at a .535 clip. The senior also leads the club with a .331 batting average and 47 hits, while batting .373 in conference-only action, good for third in the league. With a rising .458 on base percentage, Black has reached base safely in 17 consecutive contests.
A pair of speedsters on the base paths have also led to the Lions’ ability to manufacture runs. Sophomore Jordan Serena and senior Nick Crucet have combined to snag 45 of Columbia’s league-leading 74 steals. Serena’s 26 stolen bases place him 13th in the national rankings.
The Big Green are making their sixth straight Ivy League Championship appearance after putting together a 15-5 Ivy League campaign to win the Red Rolfe Division. Dartmouth swept Harvard last weekend to clinch the division and has a program record 32 victories on the season.
Dartmouth has the most formidable lineup in the conference, boasting a team batting average of .306 and are putting 6.6 runs on the board per contest. Jeff Keller leads five players hitting above .300, recording a .368 clip and leads the league with a .699 slugging percentage, 39 RBI and 21 doubles. Joe Purritano checks in with a .354 batting average to go with five homers and 30 RBI, while Nick Lombardi has also been a top-run producer, driving in 38 runs to go with a .299 batting average.
Columbia and Dartmouth have been 1-2 in the Ivy League team ERA category all season long. As a staff, the Big Green have a 2.46 ERA and have racked up 279 strikeouts. Michael Johnson is the Big Green’s ace, posting a 7-0 record with a 1.33 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 54.1 innings of work. Kyle Hunter is 4-1, has a 1.66 ERA to go with 46 strikeouts, while Cole Sulser is the team’s strikeout specialist with 51 punch-outs in 50 innings of work. Thomas Olson is a perfect 6-for-6 in save opportunities and has not yielded a run in 13 appearances.