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Senior Aaron Silbar
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Brock Malone

Baseball Hosts Dartmouth in Ivy League Championship Series This Weekend

Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics
          Release: 05/08/2014
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NEW YORK - With Columbia and Dartmouth winning their respective divisional playoffs last weekend, the Ivy League Championship Series is now set for Saturday, May 10 and Sunday, May 11, if necessary, at Robertson Field at Satow Stadium. 

The best-of-three series will begin with a doubleheader on Saturday, with first pitch set for noon. Game two’s approximate start time is 3 p.m., or about 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one. The third game of the series will be played Sunday at 1 p.m., if necessary.

LEADING OFF
•For the first time since the Ivy League went to divisional play in 1993, both divisions were decided by a one-game playoff, with Columbia capturing the Gehrig Division for the second straight year and Dartmouth taking Rolfe for the seventh consecutive year.
•Columbia and Dartmouth are meeting in the ILCS for the second straight year and for the fourth time since 2008. Columbia won the series in 2008 and 2013, while Dartmouth captured the title in 2010.
•The Lions are hosting the ILCS for the third time in the last five years.
• Columbia has won five Gehrig Division titles, while Dartmouth has won 10 Rolfe titles. 
• Columbia is seeking its 12th Ivy League title in program history, while Dartmouth is looking for its 15th conference championship in program history.
• Columbia and Dartmouth split the regular season series, with the Big Green taking a 3-2 win in game one, while the Lions captured game two, 5-4, on April 5.

SCOUTING THE LIONS
For the third time in the last five years, the Lions will host the Ivy League Championship Series at Robertson Field at Satow Stadium. Columbia locked up host duties for the ILCS with a 4-0 blanking of Penn in the Gehrig Division playoff after finishing the regular season with a 15-5 Ivy League record.

Following a 2-3 start to the Ivy League slate, Columbia won 13 of its last 15 conference games, and 16 of its final 21 matchups of the season to post a 25-17 record. The 25 victories matches the third best total in program history set in 2010.

The keys to the Lions’ surge to the top of the Ivy League have been the backbone to coach Boretti’s program, pitching and defense. Runs have come at a premium for opposing teams, as Columbia’s pitching staff has held its competitors to two runs or less in 10 of the last 21 games, including five shutouts.

Dominance on the hill has been led by senior David Speer. With nine shutout innings last weekend against Penn, Speer extended his scoreless innings streak to 23, the longest active streak in the nation. Despite allowing two walks for the first time all season against the Quakers, Speer still ranks third in the nation with a 12.4-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. On the year, Speer boasts a 2.00 ERA, the third lowest mark in the Ancient Eight.

The entire weekend staff has made significant contributions to the Lions’ surge over the last month. Sophomore George Thanopoulos ranks eighth in the conference with a 2.91 ERA, while his batting average against is just .233, fifth-best among Ivy League hurlers. Classmate Kevin Roy sports the Ivy League’s best batting average against at .201, while senior Joey Donino finds himself third with a 9.07 strikeout per nine inning mark.

The defense behind the men on the hill has been just as stout. In Ivy League games, Columbia registered a .983 fielding percentage to tie with Dartmouth for first in that category. Overall, Columbia holds a .974 fielding percentage, the second-best in the conference and would set a new program record.

A pair of new starters this season have buoyed the Lions’ offensive efforts. First-year Will Savage posted a .414 batting average in the Ivy League contests and a .354 overall mark to pace the offense. His 45 hits is tied for second most on the team with lead-off man Jordan Serena. Robb Paller has set the standard with 48 hits on a .302 average and 31 RBI. David Vandercook has driven in 30 runs this year on a team-high 13 doubles, while Gus Craig has generated 22 runs with a team-high .481 slugging percentage.

SCOUTING THE BIG GREEN
An eight-game win streak, including its final seven Ivy League games, has led Dartmouth to its spot across from Columbia in the Ivy League Championship Series. Hopes for a seventh straight Rolfe Division title looked bleak for Dartmouth after being swept in a doubleheader by Brown on April 19, but the Big Green won its final six regular season Ivy League games and then topped Yale in a one game playoff, 11-4, to earn the right to compete for its 15th Ivy League title in program history.

Over its last eight games, Dartmouth is outscoring its opponents 58-20. On the year, Dartmouth paced the Ivy League with a .278 batting average and finished second with a .396 slugging average. The Big Green’s pitching staff finished the season with a 5.03 collective ERA, ranking fifth in the conference, while its defense was the best in the Ivy League at .978.

Outfielder Jeff Keller leads the Big Green at the dish and in the field. Keller’s .317 average is top on the team, while he also boasts a perfect fielding percentage in 77 chances. His .482 slugging percentage is second to Nick Lombardi’s .493 mark. Lombardi is tied with reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, Joe Purritano, with a team-best 26 RBI.

Sophomore Beau Sulser’s nine starts on the hill leads the Big Green. Sulser started last weekend’s playoff against Yale, but left the game in the second inning with an apparent arm injury, giving way to classmate Duncan Robinson who gave up just two runs on four hits in 5.1 innings of relief to earn the win. Robinson is second on the team with a 3.45 ERA, trailing only Mike Concato who holds a 3.40 ERA in 50.1 innings of work.

Sulser and Robinson are familiar to the Lions hitters, as the duo combined to give up just eight hits and no earned runs in Dartmouth’s 3-2 10-inning win against Columbia on April 5. The Lions bounced back in the second game of the doubleheader that day to defeat the Big Green, 5-4, behind the arms of George Thanopoulos and Thomas Crispi.

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