NEW YORK – The Columbia baseball team is headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008 after sweeping the Dartmouth Big Green Saturday to earn the 2013 Ivy League Baseball Championship. On a beautiful day at Robertson Field at Satow Stadium, the Lions' faithful saw Columbia win game one in 10 innings, 6-5, and then used a six-run seventh inning to topple the Big Green, 12-5, in game two.
"The guys worked their butts off all year and it's great to see it come to fruition," said head coach Brett Boretti after the victory. "With all the work they put in and just taking the same approach they took all year, they got it done today."
The standing-room-only crowd witnessed the Lions (26-19, 16-4) clinch their 11th Ivy League title in program history, and second in the last six years. The victories built on a program-best 16 conference wins during the regular season. The Lions now await to find out where they will be headed for their third NCAA Tournament appearance when the NCAA announces the field on May 27 at noon.
With the conference championship, the class of 2013 avenged its loss to Dartmouth back in 2010, when the Lions fell in the three-game series despite a hard-fought run.
GAME ONE RECAP
Columbia sophomore Gus Craig cranked a walk off RBI single in the bottom of the tenth inning to lift the Lions to a 6-5 victory in game one of the Ivy League Championship series vs. Dartmouth on Saturday in front of a sold out crowd at Robertson Field at Satow Stadium.
The Big Green jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with a home run by Jeff Keller in the top of the first, before Columbia took a 3-2 lead in the third. The Lions kept the lead until Dartmouth tied things up, 5-5 in the top of the ninth, eventually forcing extra innings until Craig’s heroics gave Columbia the win.
Designated hitter Joey Falcone led the Columbia going 3-for-5 with a game-high three hits, and adding one run scored. Overall, the Lions outhit the Big Green 13 to 10.
Dartmouth got started with a base hit by Matt Parisi and a one-out, two-run homer over the left field wall by Kelly. It was the first home run off of Columbia’s starter David Speer all season. Dustin Selzer threatened with a double, but Speer retired the final two batters of the inning.
Speer kept the momentum rolling by striking out the side in the top of the second as he sat down 16 consecutive batters faced en route to reaching a new career benchmark with 12 strikeouts.
The Columbia bats came alive in the second, taking the lead with a three-run inning. Nick Ferraresi led off with single down the right field line, and Aaron Silbar followed with an infield base hit to the pitcher. David Vandercook loaded up the bases with a fielder’s choice, turned unsuccessfully, with a muffed throw to third in an attempt to throw out Ferraresi. Nick Crucet capitalized with game-tying, two-run double down the left field line that drove in Silbar and Ferraresi.
Mike Fischer then reached first due to a costly Dartmouth fielding error that would allow Vandercook to score on the play and give the Lions a 3-2 lead.
Speer continued his dominance on the hill, holding the Big Green at bay while the Lions scored again in the fifth with an RBI double by Ferraresi.
Dartmouth once again made it a one-run game in the sixth after Keller worked a full-count single up the middle, stole second and scored with an RBI double into left field by Selzer.
Determined to take game one, the Lions tacked on an insurance run in the seventh. Falcone led off with a hard-hit single into left field, and Silbar worked a full-count walk. Crucet then loaded up the bases with a two-out single, and Fischer drew an RBI walk, sending home Falcone to boost Columbia’s lead, 5-3.
The Big Green rallied late with a single run in the eighth and nine innings to tie things up, 5-5. The game-tying run came off the bat of pinch hitter Ryan Toimil, when he hit an RBI single through the left side.
Columbia reliever Kevin Roy entered the game in the tenth frame, working his way out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam with a pop up and two strikeouts to keep the score knotted at 5-5.
Ready to rally, Fischer came to the plate and smacked the first pitch he saw for a ground-rule double that fell just short of long balling over the center field fence. For the second time this season, Craig came up to the plate and finished things off with a walk off single that allowed Fischer to score the game-winning run.
Roy (3-1) earned the win for the Lions after closing out the final inning with two strikeouts and just one hit. Cole Sulser (5-3) took the loss for the Big Green after tossing the final 3.2 innings, allowing two runs on five hits.
GAME TWO RECAP
The Big Green struck first once again with a two-run first inning. Parisi led off with a single and made his way to third with a walk of Coble and groundout by Keller. Down 0-2 in the count, Selzer hit a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Parisi for the first run of the game. Purritano then went down swinging, but reached due to a wild pitch, scoring Coble.
Columbia responded by tying the score with a two-run second inning surge. Aaron Silbar hit a leadoff double into right center field and scored when David Vandercook ripped his fourth triple of the season. It was just the third triple allowed by the Big Green pitching staff all year. Crucet then grounded out to second base for a RBI, which gave Vandercook time to score from third on the throw.
The Lions took the lead in the top of the third after Serena doubled back to the wall in deep center and scored on a sacrifice fly by Black.
In the top of the fourth, the Lions tacked on another run to take a 4-2 lead. Silbar led off with a ground-rule double and scored off a sacrifice bunt by Crucet.
The Big Green went ahead 5-4 with a run of their own in the fifth inning and another pair of runs in the sixth after Coble hit a RBI double down the right field line. Stefan Olson came in from the pen and notched the final two outs to get the Lions out of the inning, while shutting the Big Green out the rest of the way.
Columbia exploded with a six-run seventh inning with eight consecutive batters reaching base to give the Lions a 10-5 advantage. Serena kicked off the rally with a double to right center, and advanced to third on a fielding error. Black then drew a walk to put runners on the corners.
Falcone kept it going by driving in the game-tying run with a RBI single. Ferraresi then put the Lions ahead for good when he hit a two-run double into center field and scored after Silbar singled through the left side. Vandercook reached based after getting hit by a pitch, and the scoring continued with another RBI single by Crucet. Eric Williams polished off the final run of the inning with a sacrifice fly into center field, scoring Vandercook on the play.
Olson stayed strong to capture the win with 3.2 scoreless frames, during which he sat down more than half his batters faced with a season-high six strikeouts, while allowing just one hit.
The Lions added the exclamation point to the win by tacking on an additional pair of runs in the top of the ninth en route to take home the Ivy League crown.