Lions Win Thriller in Opener, Unable to Complete Comeback in Nightcap in Baseball's Doubleheader Split
PRINCETON, N.J. -- For fans of late inning drama, Sunday's doubleheader between Colubmia and Princeton was worth the 24-hour wait.
After the start of the four-game series was postponed due to rain on Saturday, Columbia won 8-5 in the opener, which went two innings past the normal seven innings scheduled for the first game of an Ivy League doubleheader.
In the nightcap, the Lions fell behind 6-0 early then scored two runs in the fifth and two in the eighth to cut their deficit to 6-4. As it continued to rain in New Jersey, Columbia got the tying run on base with two outs in the eighth but could not get any closer as the Tigers salvaged a split of the twinbill.
Lion starter Pat Lowery held Princeton in check until the fourth, when the Tigers scratched for a run to get within 2-1. In the fifth, Steve Harrington's two-run single gave the Tigers their first lead of the day, 3-2.
In the next half-inning, Jason Banos led off by ripping a double into left center on the first pitch he saw to get the tying run quickly into scoring position. Banos advanced to third when Alexander Aurrichio pulled a ground ball to the right side and came home to score on a sacrifice fly by Eric Williams, which tied the game at 3-3.
Columbia reliever Tim Giel struck out the side in the sixth inning and after getting the first two outs in the bottom of the seventh, allowed a pair of singles and Princeton eventually had runners at second and third with two outs.
On a 1-2 pitch, Harrington chopped one down the third base line and Jon Eisen made a fantastic play to field it and fire across to get the final out and push the game into extra innings.
With one out in the eighth, Dario Pizzano belted a 2-2 offering from Princeton starter Matt Bowman deep over the right-center field wall to put Columbia back in front, 4-3.
The Tigers got the first two runners on base in their half of the eighth and scored the tying run on a wild pitch with one out as the potential winning run moved up to third base. Giel then retired the final two batters to keep the Lions alive for another inning.
Leading off the ninth inning, Williams drove Bowman's first pitch over the right field fence for his first collegiate home run, putting Columbia ahead for good. The Lions received three more insurance runs on an RBI double by Enmanuel Cabreja and a two-run, two-out single by Jason Banos to take an 8-4 advantage into the bottom of the ninth.
Princeton touched Giel for a run in the ninth to make it 8-5 but the sophomore right-hander nailed down his first victory of the season by getting the final outs of the frame on a fly ball and a strikeout.
Banos, Aurrichio and Williams had two hits apiece for the Lions, while Harrington and Mike Ford had three hits in the game for Princeton.
Princeton quickly took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an unearned run as the score remained 1-0 until the bottom of the fourth.
In the fourth, the Tigers had runners at the corners with two outs and strung together four consecutive two-out base hits to put up five runs in the inning and take a 6-0 lead.
Columbia starter Stefan Olson regrouped and tossed scoreless fifth and sixth innings to allow the Lions a chance to come back.
Columbia scored twice in the fifth inning to make it 6-2 and Olson handed it off to Harrison Slutsky, who retired the side in order in the seventh.
Jason Banos and Nick Ferraresi drew two-out walks to put runners at the corners with two outs but Princeton reliever David Palms was able to get the final out of the inning. A.J. Goetz retired the Lions in order in the ninth to gain his first save of the season.
After now allowing a hit through the first four innings, Zak Hermans ultimately yielded four runs on five hits in 7 2/3 innings. Olson allowed five earned runs in six innings and was tagged with his first loss of the season.
Columbia and Princeton will do it again on Monday, April 25 in a doubleheader set to begin at 1 p.m. on Princeton's Clarke Field.
Tim Giel struck out four and did not walk a batter in his longest outing of the season ... Giel has struck out 23 batters in 22 2/3 innings pitched ... Columbia has hit at least one home run in each of its last five Ivy League games ... Dario Pizzano has reached base in 32 of his 34 starts this season ... Pizzano now has 18 home runs in his first two seasons, tied for sixth on the career home run list ... Jason Banos moved into sixth place on the all-time Columbia hit list with 176 ... Nick Cox has 175 career base hits, which is tied for seventh place all-time with Matt Buckmiller '02.