DELAND, Fla. -- Dan Bracey gave Columbia five strong innings as the Lions jumped out to a 7-1 lead after six and defeated Illinois 9-3 on the final day of the Bright House Stetson Invitational.
Bracey allowed just a run on two hits through six and struck out four for his first win of the season. Nick Cox, Dario Pizzano and Alex Godshall had two hits apiece and Cox and Nick Ferraresi both drove in a pair of runs to help lift Columbia to its second straight victory.
After Bracey retired the side in order in the top of the first, Columbia scored four times in the bottom of the first. Cox got it started with the first of his two doubles in the game and Jon Eisen followed by drawing a four-pitch walk. Pizzano singled to load the bases and Ferraresi came through with a two-run single the opposite way to make it a 2-0 game, putting runners on the corners.
Alexander Aurrichio's infield single brought home Pizzano to make it 3-0 and the fourth run scored when Aurrichio broke up a potential double-play ball that resulted in an error, allowing the fourth run of the inning to cross the plate.
Bracey did not allow a hit to the Illini until the fourth, when the first two runners reached on a single and a double. Illinois' Matt Dittman made it a 4-1 game on a run-scoring groundout but Bracey limited the damage from there and did not allow another hit the rest of his time on the mound.
Columbia scored once in the fifth and twice more in the sixth to make it 7-1 through six innings. A two-run double by Cox made it 9-2 in the eighth.
The Lions will return to action on Friday, March 11 when they begin a four-game series at South Alabama in Mobile, Ala. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Central time.
Nick Cox batted .375 during the weekend series from the leadoff spot with three doubles ... rookie David Speer tossed two spotless innings and struck out a pair in his first collegiate appearance ... Eric Williams and Zack Tax also made their first appearances on the hill this season to close out the game ... Columbia drew six walks in the game ... Dario Pizzano was 2-for-4 with two runs scored ... Alex Godshall was 2-for-3 with an RBI ... every Columbia regular either scored or drove in a run.