PRINCETON, N.J. – Less than one week after clinching the Ivy League Championship for the second season in a row, the individual accolades poured in for the Columbia baseball team with a program-record 11 players earning All-Ivy League status. Three of the Ancient Eight’s top awards were bestowed upon the Lions, as senior lefthander David Speer became the fifth Columbia player to earn Pitcher of the Year, while first-year second baseman Will Savage became the third Rookie of the Year and 11th Blair Bat Award winner in program history.
Joining Speer and Savage on the All-Ivy League first team are third baseman David Vandercook and outfielder Gus Craig. The four selections to the first team matches the 2010 squad for the most in one season by Columbia. Five Lions earned second team recognition including: pitcher George Thanopoulos, catcher Mike Fischer, shortstop Aaron Silbar, and outfielders Jordan Serena and Robb Paller. Rounding out the Columbia selections earning honorable mention status were pitchers Kevin Roy and Adam Cline.
Speer has been among the most dominant pitchers, not only in the Ivy League, but nationally. His four complete-game shutouts leads the nation, while his 11.5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the third best. Speer ranks among the top hurlers ever at Columbia. His 80 innings this season is the fourth-highest total, while his seven wins is just one shy of tying the program’s single-season record. His 0.68 walks per nine innings is also on pace to become the new program standard. During the Ancient Eight slate, Speer posted a 4-0 record in five starts, striking out 32, while allowing just one walk. His 1.06 ERA was the second lowest in conference-only games. The Westport, Connecticut native continued to get better throughout the season, putting together two phenomenal outings in the Gehrig Division playoff and the Ivy League Championship Series opener, winning both games for the Lions. This marks the second consecutive season he was named to the All-Ivy League first team.
Savage, a local product out of the Fieldston School in The Bronx, wasted little time adjusting to the rigors of the college game. In 38 starts, Savage recorded a conference-best .341 batting average, 14 points better than Player of the Year Alec Keller from Princeton. During Ivy League action, his average at the dish increased to .414, tops in the Ancient Eight by 47 points, earning him the Blair Bat Award as the conference’s best hitter. With 46 hits on the year, Savage ranks sixth in the Ivy League, trailing teammate Paller by four hits for the conference lead. On the base paths, Savage has swiped 14 bases, the fifth-best total, while also laying down an Ivy League-leading nine sacrifice bunts. Of the 15 first team All-Ivy League selections, Savage is the only first-year. He joins the likes of Nick Cox and Dario Pizzano as the only players in Columbia history to earn Rookie of the Year honors, all under head coach Brett Boretti.
Vandercook is making his first career appearance on an All-Ivy League team, garnering first team accolades as a standout third basemen. The junior blossomed into a heart-of-the-lineup guy this season, leading the team with 14 doubles and matching Craig with five long balls. With 33 RBI, Vandercook tied Paller for the conference lead. For the second straight season, Vandercook held down the hot corner for the Lions, starting 42 games.
Craig has made the most of his move to the starting lineup, earning his first selection to the All-Ivy League first team. Craig has brought another power bat to the Lions’ lineup, slugging at a .489 clip, the fifth-best mark in the conference. The Eugene, Oregon native also ranks in the top-10 with three triple (T3rd) and home runs (T5th). During Ancient Eight action, Craig posted a .328 batting average, ninth-best, but earned the attention of oppositions with his conference-leading .569 slugging mark.
Silbar, Fischer and Serena are each making their second straight appearances on All-Ivy League teams. Silbar and Fischer have continued to be the field generals and share captain duties with Speer. A Jacksonville, Florida native, Silbar has been a constant at shortstop for Columbia each of the last three season. His range and ability to make plays has been critical all season to the Lions limiting base runners. As sure-gloved as they come, Silbar assisted on 22 double plays this season, tops in the Ivy League. At the dish, Silbar hit at a .252 clip and was 7-of-8 in stolen base attempts.
Attempt to steal on Fischer at your own risk. The Scotia, New York product has sent 18-of-36 attempted base stealers back to the dugout this season, a mark consistent with his entire career. Fischer started 41 games behind the plate this year, smacking two home runs and driving in 17 runs, but his greatest contribution has been his management of the entire pitching staff. The four-year starter has shown his ability to bring the best out of the Lions pitching core, helping Columbia post an Ivy League-low 3.55 overall ERA and a 2.51 conference-only mark.
The Lions starting centerfielder for the second straight season, Serena made 43 starts this season, all as the leadoff man in the lineup. The junior from Parker, Colorado is blazing a trail on the base paths again this season, recording 23 swipes, which leads the conference and ranks 33rd in the nation. Serena reached base at a .387 clip, the sixth-best mark in the conference, using 48 hits and 17 walks to reach that plateau, both second on the team. His .286 batting average was the third-best mark on the team and defensively he committed just one error.
Thanopoulos and Paller each returned to the Lions after missing the 2013 season, becoming key contributors in Columbia’s run to its second straight Ivy League Championship. Thanopoulos, recently named to the Gregg Olson Award watch list recognizing college baseball’s breakout player of the year, earned a spot in the Lions weekend rotation during League games, going 4-1 with a 2.32 ERA. His 31 strikeouts ranked fourth, while his .226 batting average against was eighth lowest. In 46 total innings of work, Thanopoulos posted a 2.76 ERA and a 5-1 record, two saves and held opposing batters to a .228 batting average.
Paller returned to the field this season, bringing with him one of the most productive bats in the Columbia lineup. With 50 hits, the Brooklyn native paced the Ivy League, and tied with Vandercook with a conference-best 33 RBI. On the year, Paller belted three home runs and 10 doubles, finishing the year with a .425 slugging mark. A starter in 43 games, including 36 in left field, Paller committed just one error.
Roy earned honorable mention honors for the second straight season, joining the weekend rotation this year. In 10 starts, Roy notched a 5-4 record with a 3.34 ERA. Against the Ancient Eight, Roy’s ERA shrunk to 2.05, while he limited opposing hitters to a conference-low 1.56 batting average and gave up just 17 hits. Of his 27 strikeouts in his five Ivy League starts, 12 hitters looked at strike three.
In a reliever role, Adam Cline earns his first selection All-Ivy League selection as honorable mention. The Redmond, Washington native tossed 16 innings of relief work during the Ivy League portion of the schedule, holding opposing hitters to a .167 batting average, while posting a 2.81 ERA. The sophomore also struck out 18 hitters and recorded one save.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Alec Keller, Princeton (Sr., UTL – Richmond, Va.)
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
David Speer, Columbia (Sr., LHP – Westport, Conn.)*
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Will Savage, Columbia (Fr., 2B – Bronx, N.Y.)
BLAIR BAT AWARD
Will Savage, Columbia (Fr., 2B – Bronx, N.Y.)
P – Connor Cuff, Penn (Jr. – Western Springs, Ill.)
P – Mike Fagan, Princeton (Sr. – San Diego)
P – David Speer, Columbia (Sr. – Westport, Conn.)*
RP – Duncan Robinson, Dartmouth (So. – Houston)
C – Austin Bossart, Penn (Jr. – O’Fallon, Ill.)
1B – Dustin Selzer, Dartmouth (Sr. – Houston)
2B – Will Savage, Columbia (Fr. – Bronx, N.Y.)
SS – Cale Hanson, Yale (Sr. – Katy, Texas)
SS – Ryan Mincher, Penn (So. – Glenshaw, Pa.)
3B – David Vandercook, Columbia (Jr. – Boca Raton, Fla.)
OF – Rick Brebner, Penn (Sr. – Langhorne, Pa.)
OF – Gus Craig, Columbia (Jr. – Eugene, Ore.)
OF – Mike Martin, Harvard (Jr. – Buffalo Grove, Ill.)
UTL – Alec Keller, Princeton (Sr. – Richmond, Va.)
DH – Ryan Karl, Cornell (Jr. – Towaco, N.J.)*
P – Michael Byrne, Cornell (So. – Vienna, Va.)
P – Chris Lanham, Yale (So. – Houston)
P – George Thanopoulos, Columbia (So. – Highland, Calif.)
RP – Cale Hanson, Yale (Sr. – Katy, Texas)
C – Mike Fischer, Columbia (Sr. – Scotia, N.Y.)
1B – Jeff McGarry, Penn (Jr. – Mount Laurel, N.J.)
2B – Mike Vilardo, Penn (So. – Cary, Ill.)
SS – Aaron Silbar, Columbia (Sr. – Jacksonville, Fla.)
3B – Nick Lombardi, Dartmouth (Jr. – Saugus, Calif.)
OF – Jeff Keller, Dartmouth (Sr. – Atherton, Calif.)
OF – Rob Paller, Columbia (So. – Brooklyn, N.Y.)
OF – Jordan Serena, Columbia (Jr. – Parker, Colo.)
UTL – Carlton Bailey, Harvard (Sr. – Texarkana, Texas)
UTL – Richard Slenker, Yale (Fr. – Pound Ridge, N.J.)
DH – Joe Purritano, Dartmouth (So. – Woodcliff Lake, N.J.)
HONORABLE MENTION ALL-IVY
P – Jake Cousins, Penn (Fr. – West Chicago, Ill.)
P – Ronnie Glenn, Penn (Jr. – Lake Worth, Fla.)
P – Brent Jones, Cornell (Jr. – Albuquerque, N.M.)
P – Kevin Roy, Columbia (So. – Houston)
RP – Adam Cline, Columbia (So. – Redmond, Wash.)
RP – Chris Moates, Yale (So. – Smithville, Ga.)
C – Robert Baldwin, Yale (Jr. – Austin, Texas)
1B – Zack Belski, Princeton (Fr. – Missouri City, Texas)
1B – Ryan Plantier, Cornell (Sr. – Poway, Calif.)
2B – Kyle Larrow, Harvard (Sr. – Carver, Mass.)
2B – Thomas Roulis, Dartmouth (Jr. – New Hyde Park, N.Y.)
SS – Tom D’Alessandro, Cornell (Sr. – Dix Hills, N.Y.)
SS – Matt Parisi, Dartmouth (Jr. – Clermont, Fla.)
OF – Chris Cruz, Cornell (Sr. – Bay Shore, N.Y.)
OF – Brandon Engelhardt, Penn (Sr. – Pottstown, Pa.)
OF – Daniel Massey, Brown (Sr. – Greensboro, N.C.)
OF – Nick Ruppert, Dartmouth (So. – La Mesa, Calif.)
OF – Jordan Winawer, Cornell (So. – Mountain View, Calif.)
^-Expanded due to ties in the voting