Two-Run Eighth in Nightcap Lifts Baseball to Split with Cornell
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Gene Boyars

NEW YORK -- In the eighth inning of game two, Alex Ferrera broke a 2-2 tie with a run-scoring double and with the help of Jon Eisen, executed a steal of home, lifting the Lions to a 4-2 victory in the nightcap after Cornell took the opener, 8-4.

Game 1

The opener appeared to be headed toward a slugfest since it was 5-4 after two and a half innings.  The two starters settled in from there and Domenic DiRicco's three-run home run in the seventh ulimately was the decisive blow in an 8-4 Cornell win.

Cornell's Frank Hagen got the Big Red on the board in the top of the second with an opposite-field home run to right on the first pitch of the second inning that Lion starter Joe Scarlata threw.  Adam Jacobs then tripled home Matt Langseth, who singled with two outs, giving Cornell a 2-0 advantage.

Columbia came right back with four runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 4-2 lead.  Bobby O'Brien led off with a single and two batters later, Alex Ferrera belted his second home run of the season to tie the game at 2-2.

Billy Rumpke followed by drawing a walk and with two outs, Nick Cox hit his second home run of the season, also over the right field wall, giving the Lions a 4-2 edge.

Cornell would load the bases with one out in the third, but Scarlata got DiRicco swinging on a 3-2 pitch for the second out.  He then hit Nate David with a pitch to force home a run and Matt Langseth brought home two more with a sharp single back up the middle to put Cornell back ahead, 5-4.

Both teams had the leadoff batter reach base in the fourth.  Cornell's Brian Billigen led off by ripping one down into the right field corner, and tried to stretch it into a triple.  It took a perfect relay from O'Brien deep in the corner to Jon Eisen ten feet into right field.  Eisen then fired a one-hop strike to nail Billigen at third for the first out.

In the Columbia half of the inning, Billigen dropped a fly ball off the bat of Alex Ferrera, who ended up at second to start the frame.  But he would remain there as Cornell starter Jadd Schmeltzer retired the next three hitters in order.

The score remained at 5-4 until the top of the seventh.  With one out and runners on second and third, DiRicco ripped his three-run homer off Lion reliever Harrison Slutsky

David Rochefort came on to pitch a 1-2-3 seventh to close it out for Cornell.

Game 2

While the first game saw the offenses have their say early, the pitchers got big outs in the second game to keep it a low-scoring affair.

Pat Lowery took the mound for Columbia in just his third start of the season and allowed just one Cornell run over six innings, getting huge outs in key spots.  His counterpart, Corey Pappel, also went six innings, giving up just two Columbia runs in the third, keeping his team in it at the same time.

After Lowery induced a 5-4-3 double play with one out and the bases loaded in the top of the third, Columbia went ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the frame.

Billy Rumpke started the inning with a double the other way, down the right field line, and promptly went to third on a wild pitch.  After Jon Eisen hit a comebacker, Rumpke appeared hung up between third and home but Pappel's throw to third sailed wide, allowing Rumpke to get back to third safely.

With runners at the corners, Nick Cox hit one toward the hole on the right side that Langseth fielded, but it scored Rumpke and moved Eisen into scoring position.  Dean Forthun then followed with a single to score Eisen, giving the Lions a 2-0 lead after three.

Lowery yielded an RBI single to Brian Billigen in the fifth, but was able to get out of another one-out, bases loaded jam by striking out Cornell's number three and four hitters to end the inning.

Cornell tied it in the seventh after Geoff Whitaker took over for Lowery.  Whitaker did well to limit the damage, keeping it a 2-2 game, where it remained until the bottom of the eighth.

O'Brien got it started with a ground ball just inside the line at third base and hustled into second for a leadoff double.  Chris Meininger, pinch hitting for Anthony Potter, then bunted O'Brien over to third.  With one out, Ferrera then dropped a double down the left field line to score the go-ahead run.

Two batters later, Jon Eisen walked on four pitches to put runners on the corners with two outs.  With the count 2-2 on Cox, Eisen took off for second and appeared to be picked off. 

When Cornell reliever Matt Hill turned to throw to second, Eisen got hung up in a rundown.  Ferrera remained ready to bolt for home and after Eisen eluded first baseman's Mickey Brodsky's tag, Ferrera sprinted for the plate and scored the second run of the inning, making it a 4-2 game as Eisen returned to first safely.

After setting down the side in order in the eighth, Whitaker did the same in the ninth, shutting the door for his first win of the season.

Forthun and O'Brien had three hits apiece in the twinbill, while Cox and Ferrera each drove in three runs during the two games.

Columbia and Cornell will meet again for a doubleheader at Robertson Field tomorrow, Sunday, April 19, beginning at noon.  Both teams currently sit a game behind Princeton, which swept Penn on Saturday, for first place in the Ivy League's Gehrig Division.


  • Mike Roberts made a pair of outstanding plays in consecutive innings to start game two.  To start the first and second innings, Cornell's leadoff batters both laid down nice bunts down the third base line but Roberts pounced and fired to Ron Williams, doing a long stretch at first, for outs.
  • Saturday was the third annual Baseball Alumni Homecoming, drawing a huge crowd to Robertson Field.  Football's spring game also added to the attendance on the picture-perfect, 74-degree day in New York City.
  • During Sunday's doubleheader, Columbia Baseball will be sponsoring a bake sale in conjunction with the Hope for Javier Organization, a non-profit established to fight Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.