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Gus Craig hit his first homer of the season Wednesday at UTA.
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Brock Malone

Baseball Readies for Series at No. 15 Texas

Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics
          Release: 03/20/2014
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FOLLOWING THE ACTION
Fans can follow the action from Austin, Texas a number of ways this weekend. Subscribers to the Longhorn Network can view the game on television, or log on at the link above with their cable subscriber information to watch the game on-line. An audio stream is available on-line through TexasSports.com for a fee, but is free to listen to using the Longhorn Network mobile app oncompatible mobile devices. Live stats are also available using the link above

ABOUT THE MATCHUP
Not only will this be Columbia’s first game against the Longhorns, but it is also its first ever ballgame against a school currently in the Big 12. Texas has played three Ivy League schools previously (Brown, Cornell and Princeton) posting a 6-1 record against those schools. 

COLUMBIA’S STATUS
The Lions will wrap up their Spring Break trip through the Lone Star State with three games at the University of Texas this weekend. Columbia is 1-5 on the road trip with its lone win coming in the series finale last weekend at UT-San Antonio. After going the first 12 games without a home run, the Lions’ bats have sprung three long balls in the last two games, with Robb Paller, Nick Maguire and Gus Craig each hitting one.

TEXAS’ STATUS
After going 1-2 at home against Kansas last weekend to begin Big 12 Conference play, Texas bounced back with a midweek shutout, 5-0, versus Dallas Baptist. The series against Columbia comes at the tail end of an eight-game homestand at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

SCOUTING THE LIONS
Columbia continued its tour through the Lone Star State with midweek games at Texas A&M and UT-Arlington, dropping decisions to both schools. The Lions are 1-5 on their current road trip and 5-9 on the season, playing all of its games on the road to this point.

The Lions looked to be in upset mode Tuesday at Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park against the No. 26 Aggies, leading 7-4 in eighth inning after a strong start from George Thanopoulos, but a three-run homer by Mitchell Nau tied the game and A&M went on to win it in 11 innings, 8-7.
The following night in Arlington, Texas, the Mavericks scored four runs in the opening frame and added four more tallies the rest of the way to capture an 8-4 victory at Clay Gould Park.

Despite the losses, the Lions have had success in different areas throughout the trip through Texas. Kevin Roy picked up his first win of the season on the hill with a dominant, three-hit performance in a 4-2 victory at UTSA, earning him Ivy League Pitcher of the Week honors, while fellow hurler Thanopoulos gave up just six hits and three earned runs to the nationally-ranked Aggies.

At the dish, the power bats have come alive with three home runs in the last two games. Robb Paller broke the Lions’ 12-game homer-less streak with a two-run bomb against Texas A&M, and Nick Maguire and Gus Craig followed the next night with solo shots against UTA. 

Maguire is second on the team with a .342 batting average, trailing only Jordan Serena, who will enter the weekend hitting at a .352 clip. Paller continues to be a run-generater for Columbia, driving in 15 of the Lions’ 56 RBI.

Columbia’s top three starters, David Speer, Joey Donino and Roy are all 1-1, with Speer pacing the staff with a 2.35 ERA and 19 strikeouts.

SCOUTING THE LONGHORNS
The Longhorns sport a 16-6 record and a 10-4 mark at UFCU Disch-Falk Field heading into the series against Columbia. 

Texas kicked off Big 12 action last weekend, hosting Kansas for a three-game set. The Jayhawks picked up wins in the series opener and finale to win the series, while the Longhorns edged Kansas in the second game, 2-1. Dillon Peters earned his second win of the season for Texas, throwing 7.1 innings and giving up just one earned run.

Peters, as well as fellow starters Nathan Thornhill and Parker French, each sport ERAs under 2.00, with Thornhill tying with Lukas Schiraldi with a team-best three wins. French boasts the most strikeouts on the Longhorns’ staff, sitting down 29 batters in 31.2 innings. John Curtiss has been the backend reliever of choice for Texas, recording four saves without allowing an earned run yet this season.

Senior Mark Payton is the big bat in the Longhorns’ lineup, coming into the weekend leading the team with a .427 batting average, 32 hits, five triples and 14 RBI. Junior Collin Shaw, a starter in 11 games, is the only other Texas player above .300, hitting at a .343 clip in 35 at bats.
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