Wild Day of Baseball Ends with Columbia on Short End of Brown's Doubleheader Sweep

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Bobby O'Brien had eight RBI on the day, including a game-tying grand slam in the nightcap.
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Gene Boyars

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Both Columbia’s and Brown’s offense were locked in on Sunday and it seemed that each game would come down to the final at bat. 

 

Unfortunately for the Lions, that was the case as Brown scored twice in the sixth to take the opener, 9-7, and came back to win the nightcap, 12-11, on Matt Colantonio’s two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth.

 

Game 1

 

As they did a day earlier at Yale, the Lions jumped out to a quick lead in the top of the first.  The Lions took a 3-0 lead, loading the bases on a Nick Cox single and a pair of walks to Dean Forthun and Mike Roberts. 

 

With two outs, Bobby O'Brien, who had eight runs batted in on the day, ripped the first pitch he saw for a bases-clearing double to put Columbia in front.

 

Columbia pushed its lead to 5-0 in the second on a two-run single by Ron Williams but Brown’s Rob Papenhause hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the inning to cut the Lion lead to 5-3.

 

Both teams continued scoring with two runs in each half of the third.  Jon Eisen’s two-out single brought home a pair to make it 7-3 Lions, but Brown’s Matt Nuzzo got those runs back with a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning.

 

Lion starter Geoff Whitaker pitched a scoreless fourth, but Brown came back to tie it 7-7 in the fifth on solo home runs by Steve Daniels and Nuzzo, his second of the game.

 

In the sixth, Graham Tyler’s run-scoring single plated what proved to be the winning run against Pat Lowery in relief.  Brown added an unearned run later in the sixth as Matt Boylan and Mat Kimball combined for 4 1/3 scoreless innings to seal the win for the Bears.

 

Game 2

 

The nightcap was an even wilder game than the first one, with each team scoring in six of their nine innings, the lead changing hands seven times and seven home runs being hit.

 

Brown plated an unearned run in the first but the Lions bounced back to take a 2-1 lead in the top of the second on an RBI groundout by Bobby O'Brien, followed by a two-out single off the bat of Alex Ferrera.

 

The Bears used back-to-back home runs by Graham Tyler and Steve Daniels to take a 3-2 lead in the second and went ahead 7-2 with a run in the third and three more in the fourth.

 

Down five runs in the top of the fifth, Columbia mounted a six-run comeback to eventually take an 8-7 lead.

 

O’Brien got it started in the fifth with a leadoff double, moved to third on an infield single by Billy Rumpke, and scored on a nicely executed squeeze bunt by Jon Eisen to make it 7-3.

 

After Brian Valero came on to toss a 1-2-3 fifth, Columbia tied it up in the top of the sixth.  Dean Forthun drew a leadoff walk and Mike Roberts and Alexander Aurrichio followed with one-out singles.

 

O’Brien then cracked a grand slam over the center field wall to bring the Lions even at 7-7.  Columbia could have taken the lead with Ferrera at second and two outs, but Brown shortstop Graham Tyler made a diving catch of Eisen's line drive that appeared to be headed into center field, ending the inning.

 

Mike Roberts put Columbia ahead 8-7 in the seventh with a run-scoring single, but Brown regained the lead with three runs in the bottom half of the frame, making it a 10-8 game.

 

The Lions then used some small ball, scoring twice in the eighth to tie the game again.  Rumpke led off with an infield hit and Jon Eisen placed a perfect push bunt to reach first.

 

With the infield expecting another bunt, Nick Cox lined a sharp single the other way to score Rumpke and put runners at the corners. 

 

Forthun then laid down another nice bunt to score Eisen with the tying run as Forthun reached first safely.  Columbia had the chance to go ahead but Brown’s Andrew Backowski got the last three outs to keep the game at 10-10.

 

After Clay Bartlett got the first two outs of the bottom of the eighth, Joey Mizzoni came on to strike out Brown’s Nick Punal with a runner on second to end the inning.

 

Alex Ferrera put Columbia ahead 11-10 with a one-out solo homer to center, his first of the season, as the Lions were three outs away from a comeback win.

 

With the count at 3-2 and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Brown’s Steve Daniels kept the game alive with a double the other way.  Colantonio then fought back from down 0-2 and hit Mizzoni’s 3-2 pitch over the wall in center for the game-winner.

 

Brown improves to 7-1 in the Ivy League with the win, while Columbia is now 4-4 after facing all four teams in the Rolfe Division.  The Lions still stand atop the Gehrig Division, ahead of Cornell (2-6), Princeton (2-6) and Penn (0-8).

 

Columbia will travel to Rutgers on Tuesday, April 7 for a midweek game set to begin at 3 p.m.

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