TAMPA, Fla. – Behind eight scoreless innings from starting pitcher David Speer and a first-inning RBI single by Aaron Silbar, the Columbia baseball team topped South Florida Friday night, 1-0. The win is the first to begin a season since 2002 for the Lions, while the loss is the first blemish of the year for USF (7-1).
Columbia last shutout an opponent to begin a season in 1999, downing William Patterson, 1-0.
Senior Zack Tax came on for the Lions in the bottom of the ninth and closed out the win with his first save of the season. USF came into the game averaging almost 13 hits and 9.4 runs, but was limited to just five hits by Speer and Tax.
"Tremendous effort by Dave," commented head coach Brett Boretti after the game. "He set the tone early for our team and everyone responded to it."
Two familiar faces to Columbia fans helped the Lions score their first run of the season in the first inning of year. Junior Jordan Serena sent a 3-2 pitch back up the middle to start things off with a lead-off single. Serena showed off his speed in the next at bat, swiping second to move into scoring position.
With one out, Aaron Silbar stood in and roped a 1-1 pitch to centerfield to bring around Serena, serving as the game’s lone run.
From that point on, it became a pitcher’s duel with Speer shining. The Bulls would not get a hit until the fourth frame, which also served as the only scoring opportunity they had. Luke Maglich reached on an infield single to lead off, followed by a double to leftfield by Daniel Portales to put runners at second and third with no outs. Columbia’s ace was unfazed though, getting the next three batters to fly out, strikeout and ground out to end the inning.
Beginning with those three outs, Speer retired the final 15 hitters he faced, finishing with eight strikeouts and no walks on 102 pitches. Tax then came on and face four batters, allowing just a two-out walk, to pick up the save and punctuate the victory.
The Lions and Bulls return to USF Baseball Stadium on Saturday for a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m.