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Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Gene Boyars

Columbia Rides Strong Pitching to Doubleheader Sweep to Start Ivy League Action

Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics
          Release: 03/31/2012
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Game 1 Box Score | Game 2 Box Score | Video: Postgame with Dario Pizzano

NEW YORK - Columbia used fantastic pitching throughout its league-opening doubleheader with Yale, winning the first game 3-1 behind a complete game by Pat Lowery.

In game two, David Speer and Harrison Slutsky combined on a six-hit shutout to help lift the Lions to a 3-0 win as Columbia begins the Ivy League campaign at 2-0.

Game 1 Recap

Columbia starter Pat Lowery worked around base runners in the early innings, cruised through the middle innings and nailed down the win despite allowing a run in the seventh. It made Columbia's three-run third inning stand up in a 3-1 victory.

In the first, Lowery allowed two soft singles to start. A sacrifice bunt by Ryan Brenner pushed the runners into scoring position but Lowery struck out the four and five hitters to keep the Bulldogs off the board.

Yale mounted a similar rally in the third, putting runners on second and third base with two outs but Lowery struck out Jacob Hunter for a second time as the game remained scoreless going to the bottom of the third.

Columbia began its three-run third inning with Mike Fischer at the plate and one out. Fischer grounded one wide of third that Chris Piwinski made a great diving play to field. Piwinski got to his feet and threw to first base but it pulled first baseman Kevin Fortunato off the bag. Although Fischer was originally ruled out, the umpires conferred and reversed the call.

With a runner at first and one out, Jon Eisen singled to push runners to first and second. Billy Rumpke followed with a sinking line drive down the right field that ended up going down the right field line for extra bases. Both runners scored and Rumpke ended up at third base with a two-run triple.

Dario Pizzano then took advantage of a drawn-in infield and ripped an RBI single past the second baseman into right field to give Columbia a 3-0 advantage.

Lowery took over from there, retiring 10 straight batters until the start of the seventh and final inning. Yale's Charlie Neil drove one into left center and wound up on third base with a leadoff triple. Fortunato lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to score Yale's first run of the game but the Lions picked up a needed out.

After Lowery got Joe Lubanski on his sixth strikeout of the game, Piwinski drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch to bring the tying run to the plate in leadoff man Cale Hanson. Hanson hit a sinking liner to right center field but Columbia's Billy Rumpke made a terrific diving catch for the final out to close out Lowery's second straight complete-game victory.

Fischer had two hits in three at-bats for the Lions, which won their Ivy League opener for the fifth time in six seasons.

Game 2 Recap

After Columbia received a strong pitching performance in game one, the Lions received equally solid pitching from David Speer and Harrison Slutsky in game two. The Columbia duo combined for nine shutout innings and allowed six Yale hits while striking out 12 with just one base on balls.

Columbia stole a run in the first inning after Jon Eisen led off with a single. Dario Pizzano reached on an infield single to put runners on the corners. With two outs, Pizzano took off for second base, forcing Yale catcher Ryan Brenner to throw to second base. Pizzano stopped and got in a rundown, allowing Eisen to take off from third base and score the first run of the game.

Meanwhile, Speer struck out four over the first three innings and Columbia cashed in another run in the third. Aaron Silbar got things started with a sharp single to center and after a sacrifice bunt, Eisen got his second straight hit on an infield single.

With two outs, Pizzano belted one into left center. Silbar scored to make it 2-0 and Eisen aggressively tried to score from first on the gapper. The relay throw from shortstop Cale Hanson came in one hop to the plate but Brenner held onto it and tagged Eisen diving for the back end of the plate to cut down the third run and end the inning.

With Columbia ahead 2-0 in the sixth, Speer got the first two outs before Jacob Hunter laced a single into left field. The speedy Cam Squires followed with a beautiful push bunt between the mound and first base. After falling off to the third-base side, Speer sprinted across the mound, gloved the slow roller and flipped to first in one diving motion. The play just beat Squires at first base for the third out as Speer finished his day with a web gem.

Columbia made it 3-0 in the sixth on a two-out triple by Alex Black that scored Billy Rumpke, who singled to start the frame.

Harrison Slutsky came on for Speer in the seventh and was dominant, striking out five batters over his three perfect innings for his first career save.

Columbia will host Brown on Sunday, April 1 at noon after the Bears were rained out at Penn on Saturday.

NOTES:

Columbia has won seven of its last eight games with Yale ... the Lions swept the Bulldogs in their league-opening doubleheader in 2010 ... Columbia has won five straight games ... in game one, Jordan Serena saved a run with a great diving play on the infield to get the last out of the second inning ... Alex Black made a nice backhand stop and flipped to Lowery covering the first base bag to end the fourth inning of game one ... Columbia did not making an error in the field during the twinbill ... one error was credited to catcher Mike Fischer on catcher's interference in the third inning of game one ... Fischer nailed Hanson trying to steal third base with one out in the fifth inning of game two ... David Speer and Yale's Rob Cerfolio each threw 99 pitches and 65 strikes in game two ... the RBI triple in game two was Black's second three-base hit of the season ... the games were played under mostly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 40s after it rained overnight and into the morning in the New York City area

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