Lions Jump on Harvard Early, Ride Strong Pitching to Doubleheader Sweep in Baseball Action
NEW YORK - Columbia scored five times in the first inning in the opening game against Harvard, on its way to an 11-2 victory, boosted by a strong start by Dan Bracey. The Lions' attack started fast again in game two, scoring four times in the first three innings as Stefan Olson and Harrison Slutsky combined for a four-hit shutout in an 8-0 Columbia victory in the nightcap.
Nick Cox had six hits in seven trips and scored five runs in the doubleheader while Dario Pizzano homered and drove in three in the opener and Jason Banos homered and drove in four in the second game.
In the top of the first, Harvard had a runner at second with one out after Dan Bracey got the number-two hitter Sam Franklin on a strikeout. Crimson leadoff man Dillon O'Neill attempted a steal of third base with Jeff Reynolds at the plate and catcher Mike Fischer gunned him down, erasing the runner in scoring position, keeping Harvard off the board in the top half of the first.
Columbia seized control quickly in the bottom of the first. Nick Cox led off with a well-struck double off the center field fence and Jon Eisen curled one just inside the third base bag for a run-scoring double as Columbia quickly grabbed a 1-0 advantage.
With runners at second and third and one out, Nick Ferraresi lined a single into left field that scored two runs, making it a 3-0 game.
Columbia eventually put runners on the corners with two outs and Alex Ferrera belted a ringing double that scored two more, giving the Lions a 5-0 advantage after one inning, ultimately chasing starter Brent Suter from the game.
Meanwhile, Bracey allowed just three hits through four innings, despite running into a bit of a jam in the third after Danny Moskovits doubled with two outs.
Dillon O'Neill followed by hitting a low liner into right center. With a stiff wind blowing from left to right field, the ball was drifting away from Cox in center but he made a headlong dive with full extension to make a specatcular grab, saving a run and ending the inning.
With two outs in the fourth, Cox walked on a 3-2 pitch from Harvard reliever Dan Berardo, who had retired the first nine batters he faced. Eisen followed by cracking a single into right center to put runners at the corners with two outs.
Dario Pizzano followed by driving Berardo's 1-0 offering deep over the right field wall for a three-run shot, pushing Columbia's lead to 8-0.
Bracey allowed two runs on five hits in six innings to pick up his third victory of the season. Zach Epstein came on to pitch a hitless seventh to finish the game.
Nick Cox again sparked the Lions in the first inning, leading off the bottom of the first with a single back up the middle, the first of his four hits in four at-bats on the day.
Two batters later, Dario Pizzano drove one the other way into left center to bring home Cox, putting the Lions ahead 1-0.
In the second inning, Alex Godshall dropped down a terrific bunt down the third base line and reached first safely without a throw to start the frame. Alex Ferrera's sacrifice bunt moved Godshall into scoring position and Godshall caught the defense back on its heels and stole third base, just beating the throw to third by Harvard starter Connor Hulse.
The stolen base proved critical as Mike Fischer lofted a sacrifice fly to center to plate Godshall with the Lions' second run of the game.
Columbia got two runners aboard in the third when Pizzano drew a leadoff walk and Nick Ferraresi was hit by a pitch with one out. Jason Banos then ripped an 0-2 offering just inside the right field line that went into the corner. Pizzano scored easily and Ferraresi just beat the throw home as Banos' two-run double gave Columbia a 4-0 advantage.
Lion starter Stefan Olson cruised through seven innings, needing only 73 pitches in his outing. He finished his stellar performance by retiring the last 12 batters he faced. Olson made his defense work for him, as he struck out two, got 10 groundball outs and nine flyouts.
After Columbia had already put two runs across in the seventh to take a 6-0 lead, Banos provided the capper, a long two-run home run over the right field fence for his third round-tripper of the season.
Leading 8-0 going into the eighth, Harrison Slutsky came on to toss the final two innings, allowing just a leadoff single in the eighth.
Olson notched his first win of the season with his seven shutout innings while Hulse was tagged with the loss after going six innings, allowing four runs on seven hits.
Columbia is back in action on Wednesday, April 6 when the Lions will take on Rutgers in New Jersey for a 3:30 p.m. game.
Nick Cox is now tied for second place all-time on the Columbia career stolen bases chart with 65, along with Jay Dipasupil '87 ... with his four-hit game two, Cox also moved into Columbia's top ten in career base hits (165) ... teammate Jason Banos is in 11th place with 162 base hits ... Banos is now sixth all-time career doubles with 37 and ninth all-time in runs batted in with 97 ... in addition to the run-saving grab in the third inning of game one, Cox made two more highlight-reel catches near the center field fence, robbing a Harvard batter of extra bases each time ... Jon Eisen also flashed some leather, robbing Sean O'Hara of a leadoff base hit in the seventh inning of game two ... Columbia played without an error in the nightcap ... the Lions stole four bases in game two ... Harvard did not have an extra-base hit against Columbia pitching in game two.