Lowery's Stellar Effort, Banos's Clutch Hit Lift Lions in Opener; Bats Heat Up in Nightcap in Baseball's Sweep

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Pat Lowery went the distance for the second straight outing, helping Columbia claim a 2-1 victory in game one
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Gene Boyars

NEW YORK -- Pat Lowery and Jadd Schmeltzer matched up in an old-fashioned pitchers duel in the opener and Jason Banos provided the go-ahead RBI single in the sixth inning as Lowery went seven strong innings in a 2-1 Columbia victory.

The Lions busted out for 12 runs in the rain-shortened nightcap, powered by two Alexander Aurrichio home runs in a 12-2 Columbia win after the game was called on account of rain in the seventh inning.  After Cornell went ahead 2-0 in the top half of the first, Dan Bracey quieted the Big Red attack, throwing six shutout innings after that.

Game One

Nick Cox led off the Columbia first inning by lining an 0-2 pitch back through the middle, off the foot of Cornell pitcher Jadd Schmeltzer, as it kicked into foul ground.  Cox moved to second on Nick Crucet's sacrifice bunt and to third on a balk.

After Dario Pizzano took a base on balls, Jason Banos came from down 0-2 in the count to drive a fly ball that sent center fielder Brian Billigen back to the track for a sacrifice fly as the Lions took a 1-0 advantage.

Billigen lofted a sacrifice fly to score Brenton Peters with the tying run in the third, making it a 1-1 game.

Lowery worked around a base runner at second base and one out in both the fifth and sixth innings, getting big outs to wiggle out of those situations with the potential go-ahead run in scoring position.

Meanwhile, Schmeltzer allowed just one hit through three innings until Alexander Aurrichio doubled with one out in the fourth.  Aurrichio moved to third on a wild pitch with Eric Williams at the plate, putting the potential go-ahead run 90 feet away with one out.

With the infield playing in, Williams ripped a line drive the other way, but right at third baseman Ben Swinford. Swinford picked off the liner and just beat a diving Aurrichio back to the third base bag for the inning-ending double play.

The game moved to the bottom of the sixth still tied at 1-1.  Crucet led off by smacking a double into the right-center field gap and moved to third with one out on an advancing groundout by Pizzano. 

The Cornell infield moved in again and Banos drove a 1-2 pitch past a diving Frank Hager into right field to score Crucet, making it a 2-1 lead for the Lions. 

Lowery retired the side in order in the seventh, getting Billigen looking at a 1-2 split-fingered fastball on the outside corner for the final out.

Lowery went seven innings for his second straight complete game, allowing an unearned run on four hits. He walked two and struck out five batters.  Schmeltzer allowed five hits in six innings, walked one and struck out three.

Game Two

After it began raining right at the end of the opener, the second game was played in a consistent drizzle for most of the shortened seven-inning affair.

The rain did not slow down the bats as Cornell posted two runs in its half of the first and Columbia responded with four of its own in the bottom of the frame.

After the Big Red went ahead 2-0, Columbia quickly tied it up on a Dario Pizzano two-run shot, his fourth of the season.  Jason Banos then stroked a ground-rule double the other way into left field and advanced to third on a single by Alexander Aurrichio, who had a big game at the plate.

Banos moved to third on the Aurrichio single and Aurrichio took second when the throw from right fielder Chris Cruz sailed to the backstop.  Eric Williams then drove home Banos on an RBI groundout and Alex Godshall served a run-scoring single into right field to score Aurrichio with the fourth run of the inning.

Bracey took control from there, allowing just two hits after the first inning.  Bracey retired the last 10 Cornell batters he faced, ultimately allowing just five hits in the seven-inning complete game.  He walked one and struck out four.

Aurrichio's two-run home run to straightaway center field in the fourth gave Columbia a 6-2 advantage.  The Lions scored twice more against Cornell starter Corey Pappel in the fifth before chasing him from the game.

In the seventh, the Lions batted around, sending nine men to the plate before the rains came.  Aurrichio's leadoff home run made it 9-2 and a two-run double by Enmanuel Cabreja made it 11-2.  Crucet's RBI groundout capped the four-run seventh and ultimately sent Columbia home with a 12-2 victory.

Aurrichio had three hits in four at-bats with four RBI in game two. Banos had two doubles in three at-bats and scored three times and Godshall had two hits in four trips.

Columbia improved its record to 15-15 and 5-5 in the Ivy League with the two wins on Saturday against Cornell.  The two teams will meet again in a a doubleheader on Sunday, April 17 beginning at noon.

NOTES:

Columbia honored Eric Blattman '80 between games for his contributions to the program, announcing that the baseball locker room will be known as the Blattman Locker Room ... it was Columbia Baseball's Homecoming day before a large crowd that braved the rainy weather on Saturday afternoon ... Columbia is 9-3 when it scores in the first inning ... the Lions stole three bases in three tries in game two ... it was the second time in his career that Alexander Aurrichio has hit two home runs in a game ... Aurrichio moved into a tie for fourth place on the Columbia all-time home run list (20) with Travis Hunter '97 ... with his two doubles in game two, Jason Banos is now tied for third on the Columbia all-time doubles list with 40, tying former teammates Ron Williams '09 and Dean Forthun '10 ... in the third inning of game one, Nick Cox made a diving grab of a sinking line drive by Frank Hager that likely saved a run ... Cox led off the next half-inning and was robbed by Brian Billigen in center field, who made a tremendous catch at the wall in deep left center field, taking away an extra-base hit ... Columbia has received four complete games from its pitching staff over the past week.

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