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Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/David Epstein

Baseball Gears Up for Florida Trip at UCF, No. 29 Miami

NEW YORK – The Columbia baseball team continues its early season road swing with a spring break trip to sunny Florida from March 15-21. The Lions will kick off the week with a four-game series at University of Central Florida and wrap things up with a pair of contests at University of Miami.

Columbia at UCF
Friday, March 15 – 6:30 p.m. | Live Stats | Watch Live | Live Blog
Saturday, March 16 – 4:00 p.m. | Live Stats | Watch Live
Sunday, March 17 – 1:00 p.m. | Live Stats | Watch Live
Monday, March 18 – 6:30 p.m. | Live Stats | Watch Live

Columbia at Miami
Tuesday, March 19 – 6:00 p.m. | Live Stats | Listen Live
Wednesday, March 20 – 6:00 p.m. | Live Stats | Listen Live

Last Time Out
Columbia (1-6) recently wrapped up a three-game set against the defending national champion and 16th-ranked Arizona Wildcats. It was a tight battle throughout the series, as the Wildcats edged the Lions to open and close the weekend while Columbia pulled off an upset in game two. The Lions capitalized on a clutch five-run rally in the bottom of the seventh to pick up its first victory of the 2013 season, 8-4, over Arizona last Saturday. Columbia was hungry to bounce back and even the series after falling just short in the bottom of the ninth in their first-ever meeting with Arizona Friday night.  In the rubber match of the series, the teams were tied midway through the seventh but the Wildcats used strong bullpen relief and rallied with two runs in the bottom of the frame to ultimately outduel the Lions, 7-5.

All-Time Series  vs. UCF
UCF holds a 10-2 all-time advantage over the Lions as the teams face for the second time in the last three seasons. In their last meeting during the 2011 season, the Knights topped the Lions 4-2 in Orlando

Making History
History was made on multiple levels last weekend as the Lions not only took on Arizona, the defending national champions, but notched an 8-4 victory in the second game of the series. It was the first time in program history that the Lions faced a defending national championship team, and subsequently the first time to have ever defeated a team bearing that title. Columbia reliever Joey Donino earned the win, and in turn picked up the first Ivy League Pitcher of the Week honors of his career. Donino marks the first Columbia reliever to garner Pitcher of the Week honors since former reliever and starter Chris Kotes received the award back on March 26, 1990. Kotes was later drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 23rd round of the 1991 MLB draft.

Pitcher of the Week Honors
Columbia reliever Joey Donino was named Ivy League Co-Pitcher of the Week on March 12 after lifting the Lions to their first win of the season against No. 16 Arizona. The junior gave up just one hit on no runs in two innings of work during the 8-4 victory against the Wildcats on Saturday. Donino came on in the sixth inning as Arizona led 4-1 after scoring all of its runs in the fifth. The Avon, Conn. native held the Wildcats scoreless while his teammates rallied with two runs in the sixth and another five in the seventh to notch the win. In the rubber match of the series on Sunday, Donino came out of the pen with two on and nobody out in the eighth, posting two outs with one strikeout to get Columbia out of the jam.

Two-Times the Fun
Columbia currently leads the nation in double plays as part of a three-way tie with Penn and Indiana, as each team is averaging 1.5 per outing. Jordan Serena picked up the first stolen base of the year for the Lions in their season opener, and Nick Crucet added the team's second of the season in the series finale against Lamar.

2013 Lions
The 2013 Lions feature 20 returning letterman, including second team All-Ivy first baseman Alex Black and honorable mention All-Ivy selections Stefan Olson and Nick Ferraresi. Columbia has 10 position players with starting experience and nine pitchers that recorded innings last season. A talented class of 10 newcomers, including outfielder Joey Falcone, the 2011 CUNY and ECAC Rookie of the Year transfer from the College of Staten Island, rounds out the Columbia veterans. The Lions ended the 2012 season with 21 wins and a 12-8 Ivy League record. It was the second 20-win season and Ivy League winning season for the program in the last three years.

Captains Make It Happen
Columbia seniors Alex Black, Tim Giel and Nick Ferraresi will serve as Columbia's captains in the 2013 season. All three are All-Ivy League players and vocal leaders on and off the diamond.

Ferraresi Has Class
Nick Ferraresi was recently selected as a candidate for the 2013 Senior CLASS Award. He is one of 30 NCAA baseball student-athletes in the running for the prestigious honor. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition.

Pre-Season Accolades
olumbia racked up a variety of preseason accolades prior to kicking off the 2013 season. Among Ivy League players, CollegeBaseballInsider.com named senior outfielder Nick Ferraresi the conference's "most underrated hitter," Nick Crucet the "best baserunner" and Mike Fischer the "best defensive catcher." From a leadership standpoint, Columbia head coach Brett Boretti was picked as the "best game coach." Baseball America also previewed each league and predicted Columbia right-handed pitcher Tim Giel to be the Ivy League Pitcher of the Year.

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