Columbia Wins Opener on Senior Day, Falls to Penn in Game Two Slugfest

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Columbia's Class of 2011 was honored between games.
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Gene Boyars

NEW YORK -- In game one, Columbia charged out to a 5-0 lead and used some solid relief work by David Speer and Tim Giel, alog with insurance runs in the fifth and sixth innings to grab a 7-4 victory. 

Despite two home runs from Dario Pizzano and one each from seniors Kevin Roberts and Jason Banos in the nightcap, Penn knocked out 16 base hits on its way to a 13-7 win to split the doubleheader.

Game One

Columbia started quickly in game one, sparked by a leadoff single from Nick Cox, who stole second base with one out.  The Lions eventually loaded the bases with two outs on a walk and hit batter and Eric Williams drove in a run with a sharp single that glanced off second baseman Rick Brebner's glove to make it 1-0.

Penn starter Paul Cusick battled a bit of wildness and issued two run-scoring walks following Williams' RBI single, allowing Columbia to take a 3-0 lead after one inning.

In the second, Columbia struck for two runs after there were two outs.  Dario Pizzano belted a 2-0 fastball over the center field fence to make it 4-0.  Jason Banos followed with a single and Alexander Aurrichio doubled him home to put the Lions in front, 5-0.

Penn got its first five batters on base to start its half of the third inning, scoring twice to cut the deficit to 5-2.  With the bases still loaded and nobody out, Pat Lowery got Will Davis on a line drive back to the mound and alertly doubled up Greg Zebrack at third base.  Another run crossed the plate in the third but the double play helped limit the damage.

Penn got a run closer in the fourth but David Speer came out of the bullpen to get Spencer Branigan on strikes with a runner at second base to keep Columbia ahead 5-4.

Mike Fischer came through with a two-out RBI single in the fifth to give Columbia a 6-4 advantage.  In the sixth, Banos singled home Pizzano, who had doubled with one out to make it 7-4.

After Speer got the first out in the seventh but allowed the next two men to reach on a hit batter and a walk, Tim Giel came on to get the final two outs to nail down his fourth save of the season.

Speer won his second game of the season while Cusick was saddled with his first Ivy League loss.  He had allowed just two earned runs in 31 Ivy League innings.

Game Two

Like he did in game one, and like he's done throughout his career, Nick Cox got Columbia started in game two with a ringing double off the left field wall in the first inning.

Two batters later, he scored when Dario Pizzano launched a towering shot down the right field line that curled just inside the foul pole for a two-run home run.

With Columbia ahead 2-1 in the third, Penn struck for seven runs to take an 8-2 advantage.  After Penn had scored three times with one out, Lion starter Stefan Olson struck out Rick Brebner with the bases loaded for the second out.

Penn's Brandon Engelhardt kept the rally going, however, with a line drive that went down the right field line for extra bases. Three runs scored as Engelhardt legged out a triple that put Penn in front, 7-2.  Ryan Dietrich then traded places with Engelhardt, hitting another triple into right field that made it 8-2.

Columbia got two runs back on solo homers by Pizzano, his second in two at-bats and third on the day, in the third inning, and one off the bat of Kevin Roberts, who connected for his first collegiate home run on Senior Day.

Will Davis doubled home two runs in the sixth to put the Quakers ahead 10-4, but the Lions would not fold.

Nick Crucet led off the seventh inning by beating out a topper between home and third base for an infield hit.  Billy Rumpke walked and a double play erased one runner for the time being. 

Penn starter Vince Voiro then walked Pizzano on four pitches, bringing Banos to the plate.  Banos stepped up and drove a 2-1 offering deep over the right field wall for his sixth home run of the year, a three-run blast that cut the Penn lead to 10-7.

The Quakers stemmed the tide with two runs in the eighth and one in the ninth to move ahead 13-7 as reliever Cody Thomson worked around a pair of walks in the eighth inning to keep Columbia off the scoreboard.

Columbia and Penn will meet again tomorrow, Saturday, April 30 in Philadelphia, Pa. for a noon doubleheader to finish the 2011 campaign.

NOTES:

Columbia turned five double plays during the doubleheader ... Dario Pizzano was 4-for-7 with three home runs, a double, six runs scored and four runs driven in during the two games ... Jason Banos was 3-for-5 with four RBI in the doubleheader ... Penn's Dan Williams was 5-for-8 with four runs scored and made a number of nifty plays at third base in the doubleheader ... Nick Cox stole his 18th base of the season in 19 attempts ... between games, Columbia's nine seniors were honored for their four years with the program -- Roger Aquino, Jason Banos, Dan Bracey, Nick Cox, Alex Ferrera, Alex Godshall, Max Lautmann, Kevin Roberts and Geoff Whitaker ... those nine have been a part of 77 wins, 44 Ivy League wins, two Gehrig Division championships and one Ivy League title during their careers at Columbia.

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