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George Thanopoulos
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Gene Boyars

In-State Rival Cornell Up Next for Baseball

Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics
          Release: 04/18/2014
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ABOUT THE MATCHUP
In a series that dates back to 1885 and has seen these two New York schools meet 223 times, Cornell holds a 124-99 advantage in the all-time series. Last season at home, Columbia won the series, taking three of four games over the Big Red.

COLUMBIA’S STATUS
The Lions are the hottest team in the Ivy League, winners of their last nine ball games. The streak has featured seven Ivy League victores, highlighted by a four-game sweep of Princeton last weekend to keep the Lions within striking distance of Gehrig Division leader Penn, who holds a two-game lead in the standings.

CORNELL’S STATUS
Conversely, the Big Red has dropped its last four games and has dropped to third in the Gehrig Division. At Penn last weekend, Cornell lost the final three games of the series and were then shutout on Thursday at home, 7-0, by Binghamton.

SCOUTING COLUMBIA
With just two weekends left in the season, the Lions (17-15, 9-3) have picked a perfect time to find their stride, posting victories their last nine times on the field. Out-of-conference wins over Rutgers and St. John’s have been sandwiched between Ivy League wins over Dartmouth, Harvard and a four-game sweep of Princeton last weekend at Robertson Field at Satow Stadium.

Columbia’s pitching continues to be a dominant force, pacing the Ancient Eight with a 2.59 ERA, over a league-high 107.2 innings. Despite playing the most innings of any team in the Ivy League, the Lions’ staff has allowed just 79 hits and 40 runs, the fewest in conference games.

Among the four pitchers in conference that have 3-0 records, George Thanopoulos’ 1.71 ERA against the Ivy League is the second lowest mark, and sixth overall. His 24 strikeouts is second in conference-only games, trailing Princeton’s Michael Fagan, who has 28. Fellow sophomore Kevin Roy has been one of the hardest pitchers for Ivy League pitchers to figure out, posting a .169 batting average against, tied with Cornell’s Michael Byrne for the League’s lowest mark.

At the dish, the Lions are second in conference-only games, hitting at a .284 clip, while slugging .432. Columbia’s 115 hits through 12 conference contests is five better than second-place Harvard.

First-year second baseman Will Savage has put the Ivy League on notice, recording a conference-best .463 average and 19 hits. The newcomer is also among the Ivy League’s best in on-base percentage (.477) and runs scored (12). The power in the Lions lineup has come from David Vandercook, who is tied for first in-conference with six doubles and stands third with a .649 slugging mark.

The base paths have been a haven for Savage and Jordan Serena. Columbia’s junior centerfielder has a league-best seven swipes, with Savage right behind with five.

SCOUTING CORNELL
Although no team in the Gehrig Division has yet to be eliminated from title contention, Cornell (15-15, 6-6) has a tough climb back into the fight, sitting five game back of Penn with just eight Ivy League contests remaining.

Penn took the final three games of a four-contest set last weekend over the Big Red, outscoring them 24-6 in those games. Cornell was unable to right the ship in a midweek matchup at home against Binghamton, falling to the Bearcats, 7-0.

Michael Byrne has been a bright spot for Cornell, as his 0.48 ERA is second in conference-only games. Fellow starter Brent Jones also sports a low ERA at 1.59, the fifth-best mark against Ivy League opponents. As a staff, Cornell has the third-lowest ERA in the Ancient Eight at 3.28.

Ryan Plantier has been the top hitter through conference play, posting a .324 average and seven RBI. Teammate Ryan Karl is right on his heels with a .317 average and a matching seven RBI. Cornell ranks sixth in the Ivy League as a team, registering a .244 batting average and is relatively quiet on the base paths, swiping just eight bags on 11 attempts.

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