Baseball Drops Two to Duke in Season Opener
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Mike McLaughlin

DURHAM, N.C.- Columbia's Jason Banos stepped up to the plate with Columbia trailing 1-0 in the top of the ninth in game one. With one out recorded, Banos had fallen behind in the count 0-2 when he hit one deep to centerfield for his first homerun of the season, tying the game at 1-1. Columbia managed to load the bases, but was unable to score any additional runs. Duke came back to score one in the bottom of the inning, as the Lions dropped the first game of their doubleheader, 2-1.


Duke scored first in the bottom of the first to take an early 1-0 lead, one they held onto into the ninth. Gabriel Saade started things off for the Blue Devils with a triple off Bill Purdy to centerfield.  Saade eventually scored off a single up the middle by Matt Williams. 


In the bottom of the second, Jake Lemmerman and Ryan McCurdy had back-to-back singles, but Purdy managed to escape the inning with a strike out.


Andrew Wolcott troubled the Lion hitters, earning six shut out innings and limiting Columbia to three hits. Two of those hits came in the fifth inning. Mike Roberts started off the inning with a line drive, and Noah Cooper singled down the third base line. The Lions were unable to capitalize, as Lemmerman and Saade turned a double play, and Dean Forthun grounded out to third to end the inning.


The Lions refused to quit and rallied in the top of the ninth. Down 0-2 in the count, Banos sent one sailing over the centerfield wall to even the score at 1-1.  Ron Williams followed with a deep hit of his own to get on base, while Jake Summerhays reached on an error. Mike Roberts then walked to load the bases for Columbia. The Lions, however, were unable to capitalize, leaving three batters on base to close out the inning.


Duke answered back in the bottom of the ninth. Lemmerman led off for the Blue Devils, reaching first on an error. McCurdy’s sacrifice bunt advanced Lemmerman to second, when Saade hit a single into left field, driving in Lemmerman for the 2-1 Duke victory.


Purdy pitched seven solid innings, giving up nine hits with just one earned run. Clay Bartlett came out of the bullpen for Columbia, pitching 1.1 innings and gave up two hits and one unearned run.


In game two, the Lions jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first. Noah Cooper advanced to first after being hit by a pitch by Duke’s Will Currier, followed by a walk for Ron Williams. Henry Perkins hit a long ball to right field, but Duke’s Manno made a great throw, forcing Cooper to hold at third. Senior Dan Neczypor advanced to first on a walk, forcing in Cooper for the Lions first lead of the day.


The Lions’ momentum continued into the second inning. With two outs, Banos got Columbia going with a single. Next up for the Lions was Cooper who reached first on an error by Duke’s first baseman Nate Freiman. Ron Williams belted one off the leftfield wall, driving in Banos and Cooper and increasing Columbia’s lead to 3-0.


Junior Joey Mizzoni had dominated the first two innings, holding Duke hitless. However, Duke took the momentum in the third, and never looked back. 


Ryan McCurdy was hit by a pitch, followed by a walk for Manno, giving the Blue Devils two on with no outs. Mizzoni struck out Saade but walked the next batter to load the bases. Alex Hassan singled driving in a run, but Columbia was able to get the forced out at third.


Freiman then hit a ground ball to Ferrera whose throw to third went wide resulting in a run for the Blue Devils. Jeremy Gould, down 0-2 in the count, roped one to centerfield, scoring two more for Duke. Nicolla grounded out to end the inning with the Blue Devils holding a 4-3 lead.


Duke’s offense continued to produce, adding three additional runs in the fourth. Lemmerman led off with a walk followed by a single to centerfield by McCurdy. 


First-year Dan Bracey took over for Mizzoni, making his collegiate debut. Manno reached on first off an error by first baseman Williams, scoring Lemmerman. Bracey walked the next batter to load the bases with no outs. After Williams’ single drove in another run, Hassan hit into a double play, resulting in one last run for Duke.  Bracey struck out Freiman swinging to close out the inning, with Duke leading 7-3.


The Blue Devils added some insurance runs over the next four innings to secure a 11-3 victory.  Senior Matt Berninger took over in the seventh, giving up two hits and one earned run in two innings of action.


Duke improved to 8-0, while Columbia falls to 0-2. The two teams are back in action tomorrow, March 2, for a doubleheader at Jack Coombs Field beginning at 11 a.m.