Lions Drop Pair of Close Games in Baseball Doubleheader with Cornell
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Gene Boyars

NEW YORK -- Columbia dropped a pair to Cornell in a Sunday doubleheader, falling 3-2 in eight innings in the opener, before the Big Red won 9-7 in the nightcap.

Game 1


Starters Dan Bracey and Mickey Brodsky, who also doubled as Cornell’s first baseman during the series, engaged in a pitchers duel throughout the first five innings.


Cornell scored first, putting an unearned run on the board in the third inning.  The Big Red then went ahead 2-0 in the fourth, stringing together three two-out singles, as Adam Jacobs drove home Nate David with a run-scoring single.


Columbia meanwhile had runners on in every inning and finally cashed in two runs in the fifth.  Billy Rumpke lined a one-out single to left and Nick Cox followed by hitting the first pitch he saw over the wall in center field to tie the game at 2-2.


The Lions had a chance to go ahead in the sixth when Mike Roberts dropped a one-out, fly-ball double just inside the right field line, ultimately chasing Brodsky from the game.


Stephen Osterer came on to get the second out via the strikeout and Nate David made a running grab of Alex Ferrera’s sinking liner in center field to end the inning.


Bracey continued to post zeroes as the game entered extra innings in the eighth.  Brodsky reached first on a swinging bunt to lead off the inning and was moved to second on a sac bunt.  Dominic DiRicco then singled through the hole into right field to drive home pinch-runner Casey Brett, giving Cornell a 3-2 lead.


Dean Forthun singled to start the eighth for Columbia but was stranded at first as Cornell’s David Rochefort came back to strike out the side to close out the opener.


Game 2


In a back-and-forth game that saw seven double plays turned, Nathan Ford delivered what proved to be the decisive blow, a three-run home run in the seventh that gave Cornell an 8-5 lead after the Big Red rallied to tie the game earlier the inning.


Alex Ferrera’s two-run homer in the eighth cut the deficit to a single run but Cornell picked up an insurance run in the top of the ninth and hung on for a 9-7 win in the nightcap.


Columbia scored twice in the first after loading the bases with one out.  Mike Roberts walked to force home a run and Bobby O'Brien was hit by a pitch to force home a second run.


Cornell answered with two runs of its own, both of the unearned variety, in the second inning.  The Big Red took a 4-2 lead in the third on Mickey Brodsky’s two-run homer.


The game stayed at 4-2 until the fifth, when the Lions loaded the bases again, this time with no outs.  Cornell limited the damage at first by turning a double play, which brought home Jon Eisen, who walked on a nine-pitch at bat to start the frame.


With two outs, Mike Roberts drove home Dean Forthun with a run-scoring single back through the box to knot the score at 4-4.


Columbia regained the lead in the sixth when Alexander Aurrichio led off with a triple that carried into the left field corner.  Two batters later, Billy Rumpke bounced a single past the drawn-in infield to give the Lions a 5-4 advantage.


In the top of the seventh, Matt Langseth made a key play with a nice drag bunt down the first base line.  Lion starter Roger Aquino fielded it but threw high to first, allowing Langseth to move to second.


With runners at the corners and no out, Brian Valero entered the game in relief of Aquino.  The first batter he faced, Brian Billigen, hit one wide of first that Ron Williams made a great diving stop, but Williams threw wide of Ferrera at second base as the tying run scored and both runners were safe on the play.


Valero made a nice play to cut down a runner at third on a sac bunt for the first out, but Ford then hit his three-run homer over the left field wall, giving Cornell an 8-5 lead.


In the eighth, Bobby O'Brien led off with a single to right field, and two batters later, Ferrera blasted his third home run of the season over the center field fence, bringing the Lions to within a run at 8-7.  Jon Eisen walked with two outs, but Rochefort, after earning the save in game one, came on to get the final out of the eighth to keep Cornell ahead.


Cornell made it 9-7 in the top of the ninth as Billigen scored after leading off with a double.  In the bottom of the frame, Forthun worked out a walk on a 3-2 pitch but Rochefort again came back to retire the next three batters for his second save of the day.


Columbia now sits two games back of Cornell and Princeton in the Ivy League’s Gehrig Division.  Cornell and Princeton, which meet each other in a home-and-home series beginning Friday, are 8-8 in the league, while Columbia is 6-10 and will face Penn (2-14) in a home-and-home series beginning next Saturday at Robertson Field.


Before next weekend, the Lions will take on Manhattan in a doubleheader at Robertson Field on Wednesday, April 22.  First pitch is slated for 1:30 p.m.