Lions Split with Brown to Take Three of Four on Opening Weekend of Ivy League Play

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Jason Banos had three RBI in the first game to support Dan Bracey's stellar outing.
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Gene Boyars

NEW YORK - Dan Bracey was dominant again in the opening game of Sunday's twinbill with Brown, tossing a complete-game four-hit shutout to lift the Lions to a 7-0 victory in the opener.

In game two, Columbia rallied from a 4-0 deficit to take a 5-4 lead in the seventh inning but Brown came back with two runs in the eighth and held on for a 6-5 victory over the Lions to split the doubleheader.

Game One

For the third straight game, Columbia got another outstanding start.  Dan Bracey took the hill for the Lions in the opener and spun a complete-game, four-hit shutout of Brown.  Bracey did not allow an extra-base hit, walked no one and struck out six, all while throwing just 88 pitches through seven frames.

Brown starter Kevin Carlow was just as good through the first three innings as the game was scoreless moving to the bottom of the fourth.

Columbia had just two hits in the first three innings but dented the scoreboard in the fourth when Alexander Aurrichio launched his Ivy League-leading seventh home run of the season over the wall in left-center field.

Bracey allowed a two-out single in the fifth and nothing more, allowing Columbia to break open the game in the bottom of the inning.

Alex Ferrera led off with a single and Dean Forthun pushed a fantastic bunt to the right side that nearly reached the outfield before Brown second baseman Chris Tanabe ran it down.

Alex Godshall bunted the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and Carlow hit Jon Eisen with a 1-0 pitch to load the bases with one out.

Jason Banos drew a walk to force home Columbia's second run of the game and the next batter, Nick Cox, just beat out a potential double play to score another run, giving the Lions a 3-0 advantage.

Carlow then plunked Aurrichio in the foot with a 3-2 pitch to load the bases again, giving Nick Ferraresi an opportunity. 

Ferraresi capitalized, lining an 0-1 breaking ball down the left field line to score a pair of runs, pushing the Columbia lead to 5-0.

Brown threatened in the sixth, putting runners on the corners with two outs on consecutive singles but Bracey got Pete Greskoff on a line drive right to Ferraresi in right field to end the inning.

Banos made it 7-0 in the Columbia sixth with a two-run double, scoring Forthun and Eisen, giving him three RBI in the game.

Bracey then retired the side in order in the seventh, picking up his second straight win of the season.

Game Two

The nightcap got off to a similar start to the opener as both starting pitchers kept the game scoreless through the first four innings.  However, it then became a back-and-forth struggle as the teams traded hold of the lead.  Brown eventually prevailed, 6-5, but after Columbia had mounted a series of rallies.

Neither team mounted much of a threat until the fifth, when Brown jumped out in front to take a 4-0 lead.  The Bears scored all four runs after Lion starter Stefan Olson got the first two outs with relative ease.

Cody Slaughter drew a seemingly harmless two-out walk but Nick Punal followed by belting a double off the top of the center field fence to give Brown runners in scoring position.

Graham Tyler then lined a single in front of Jason Banos in left field to bring home both runners, giving Brown a 2-0 lead.  The next two Brown batters drew four-pitch walks, chasing Olson from the game.

After a brilliant relief outing against Yale on Saturday, Geoff Whitaker came on with the bases loaded and two outs.  Pete Greskoff greeted Whitaker by grounding his first pitch through the hole into left field to score two, giving the Bears a 4-0 edge.

Columbia got a run back in the fifth when a sacrifice fly off the bat of Nick Cox scored Dean Forthun.  Brown's Matt Kimball, who usually works out of the Bears' bullpen and was a teammate of Eisen's in high school, beared down to keep the score at 4-1 going to the bottom of the seventh.

Matt Boylan came on to pitch the seventh for the Bears and got the first out.  Jason Banos then came to the plate and appeared to get hit by an 0-1 pitch but the home plate umpire disagreed.  On the next pitch, Banos chopped a grounder wide of first and sprinted down the line, beating the first baseman and the pitcher to the bag for an infield hit.

Cox followed with a sharp single back through the middle and both runners moved up on a wild pitch with Alexander Aurrichio at the plate.  Aurrichio's groundout scored Banos to make it 4-2, putting Cox at third with two outs for Nick Ferraresi.

Ferraresi ripped one into left center to plate Cox and then hustled his way to a double, putting the tying run in scoring position.

After some managerial manuevering, Dario Pizzano eventually came on as a pinch-hitter, facing Brown's sidearming right-hander John Murphy.  With Ferraresi aboard at second as the tying run, Pizzano ripped one over the head of Punal in right field for a double to score his fellow rookie, bringing Columbia all the way back to a 4-4 tie.

Alex Ferrera then put Columbia on top with a line-drive double down the left field to score Pizzano with the go-ahead run as the Robertson Field crowd cheered on another Columbia rally.

But Brown came back with a two-run rally in the eighth, sparked by Matt Colontonio's leadoff single.  Colontonio grounded an 0-2 pitch just past Whitaker's glove and into center field for a single and Greskoff followed with an RBI double into the left field corner to tie the game at 5-5.

After Ryan Zrenda singled to put runners on the corners, Mike DiBiase lofted a sacrifice fly to center to score Greskoff with the ultimate winning run.  Whitaker did well to stop Brown's offense from there, keeping it a one-run game.

Columbia got the tying run at second with one out in the eighth but the Lions had a pair of hard-hit balls go for outs. 

In the ninth, Dario Pizzano tripled with two outs down the right field line, putting the tying run 90 feet away.  Brown reliever Andrew Bakowski straned Pizzano at third, nailing down the win by getting the final out on a called strike three to end the game.

Columbia is back in action at Robertson Field on Wednesday, April 7 against Rutgers at 3:30 p.m. to wrap up a 10-game homestand.

NOTES:

- The loss in game two snapped an eight-game win streak for the Lions.  It was Columbia's longest win streak since the 1987 team won 10 straight games to open its season.  It is Columbia's longest win streak against exclusive Division I competition since the Lions won nine straight games during its 1976 Eastern Intercollegiate League championship season.

- Columbia won its 11th game of the season in the opener, already matching its win total from last season.

- In his last two starts, Bracey has allowed just one earned run and nine hits in 14 innings.  He has not walked anyone and has recorded 16 strikeouts.  His tremendous start against Brown came against the team his father, Jim, played baseball for during his college career.

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