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Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Gene Boyars

Gehrig Division to be Decided Saturday as Baseball Duels with Penn

Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics
          Release: 05/01/2014
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LEADING OFF
• After splitting the four-game regular season series, Columbia and Penn face-off at Meiklejohn Stadium Saturday in a one-game playoff to determine the Gehrig Division Champion.
• At 15-5, both Columbia and Penn hold better records than Dartmouth and Yale (11-9) from the Rolfe Division, and will earn the right to host the Ivy League Championship Series May 10-11 with a win on Saturday.
• Dartmouth will host Yale on Sunday, May 4 in a Rolfe Division playoff to determine its representative for the Ivy League Championship Series.
• Columbia is first, or tied for first, in-conference only games in hitting, pitching and fielding. The Lions .279 batting average and 2.51 lead the Ancient Eight, while their .983 fielding percentage is tied with Dartmouth for the conference lead.

SCOUTING THE LIONS
Columbia won the series opener and finale last weekend against the Quakers, forcing Saturday’s one game playoff, as the Lions and Quakers finished the regular season tied atop the Gehrig Division at 15-5.

Starting ace David Speer showed why he is a top contender for Ivy League Pitcher of the Year, shutting down the Penn offense in a 6-0 win to begin last week’s series in Philadelphia. The win was the second straight shutout for the senior, as he struck out seven Quakers. The performance earned him Ivy League Pitcher of the Week accolades.

Speer’s 1.06 ERA is the second lowest in Ivy League starts, but what stands out are his 32 strikeouts coupled with just one walk. On the year, Speer has 53 strikeouts and three walks, good for the second-best strikeout-to-walk ratio in the nation. His 0.43 walks per nine innings is also the second best across all of Division I.

Fellow senior Joey Donino earned the win in the series finale, tossing 5.1 innings, while striking out six and allowing just three hits. Donino stands at 3-3 on the season and is third in the Ancient Eight with a 9.07 strikeout per nine inning average.

First-year phenom Will Savage has been terrorizing the Ivy League with a conference-best .414 average in 20 League games. His season average of .352 is also tops in the Ancient Eight.

Sophomore Robb Paller has been the most consistent power bat in the lineup for the Lions all season. With 30 RBI, he is tied with David Vandercook for the team-lead, while the duo is tied for the third best total in the Ivy League. Paller’s 46 hits is tops on the Columbia roster.

Gus Craig is wielding the hottest bat in the Columbia lineup. The junior ripped off 12 hits last week, posting a .632 average with seven RBI to garner his first ever Ivy League weekly honor.

SCOUTING THE QUAKERS
On the heels of Columbia in the three major statistical categories is Penn.  The Quakers hold a .274 batting average and a 2.91 ERA, both of which stand second in conference-only games, while its .969 fielding percentage is fourth in the Ivy League.

Columbia handed Penn’s top hurler, Connor Cuff, his second loss of the season last Friday, shelling him for 10 hits and six runs (two earned) over six innings. It marked the first time all season Penn allowed more than two runs with Cuff starting on the hill. Despite the loss, Cuff still holds a team-best 1.34 ERA over 60.1 innings.

Reliever Mitchel Hammonds earned his first win of the year in the second game of Friday’s double dip, pitching five innings of relief, allowing just one run. Ronnie Glenn had the best outing of the four Penn starters last weekend, picking up win No. 5 in a 3-2 victory in game three of the series. Glenn struck out three and allowed eight hits, but did not allow a run until the Lions scored two in the final inning of the contest.

Ryan Mincher and Brandon Engelhardt are both among the Ivy League’s best hitters in conference games. Mincher is tied for fifth with a .350 average, while Englehardt is 10th with a .317 mark. Overall, Jeff McGarry is the only Quaker above .300 at .324, with four homers and 30 RBI. Rick Brebner is pacing the Penn offense with eight home runs and 31 RBI.

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