PHILADELPHIA – For the second straight year, and the fifth time since divisional play began in the Ivy League, the Columbia baseball team is the Gehrig Division Champion. Columbia once again received a remarkable outing from senior David Speer, who has now thrown 23 straight scoreless innings en route to Saturday’s 4-0 win at Meiklejohn Stadium.
Speer (6-2) finished with nine strikeouts, his second highest total of the season and allowed just five hits and two walks in the winning effort.
Speer did his part early on, striking out four in the first two frames to keep Penn off the scoreboard. Columbia put base runners on in each of the first two innings, but finally broke through with one crossing home plate in the third.
Designated hitter John Kinne led off the third with a single through the left side and advanced to second on a Jordan Serena sacrifice bunt. Two batters later, clean-up hitter Robb Paller drove a pitch right back up the middle to score Kinne from second.
First baseman Nick Maguire doubled the lead in the fourth inning, launching a no-doubt-about-it solo homer over the right field wall with two outs.
A 1-2-3 bottom of the fifth that included another strikeout for Speer gave way to the top of the sixth where Columbia bolstered its lead with two more runs. With one out, Fischer was hit by a pitch and then moved up to third on Maguire’s double to right center. Fischer was then awarded home when Penn starter Connor Cuff was called for a balk. Two batters later, and with two out, Serena laced a grounder under the outstretched arm of Penn’s third baseman to score Maguire, making it a 4-0 Lions’ lead.
Speer, and the defense behind him, took over the rest of the way. In the sixth, Speer sat down two more Quaker hitters, one looking and one swinging. In the seventh, a 5-4-3 double play negated a lead-off single by Penn’s Michael Vilardo to keep the Quakers off the board. In the eighth, Speer came back and got Ryan Mincher to look at strike three, ending the inning. Penn attempted to start a two-out rally in the ninth, but Speer got Rick Brebner to ground out to first to end the game.
Columbia will return home next weekend to host the Ivy League Championship Series for the second straight season against the winner of the Dartmouth vs. Yale playoff being held in Hanover, N.H. at noon on Sunday, May 4. The first two games of the Championships Series will be held next Saturday, May 10 at Robertson Field at Satow Stadium.