CHARLESTON, S.C. - Columbia came back to win a wild game, 11-7 in 12 innings in the opener at The Citadel before the Bulldogs staged a late inning rally of its own in game two and took the nightcap, 5-4.
The Citadel scored four runs in the first inning against Lion starter David Speer, who yielded a pair of two-run home runs in the frame. Speer was terrific after the first, giving up just two hits after that.
Speer retired 13 of the next 14 batters he faced, until a double and a hit batsman allowed The Citadel to get runners on with two outs in the sixth but the Columbia southpaw escaped without further damage to keep the Lions in the game.
Trailing 4-1 in the seventh, Columbia got back to within a run on a two-run double the other way by Dario Pizzano that made it a 4-3 game.
Columbia still trailed by a run in the top of the ninth. Alexander Aurrichio laced a one-out single on the first pitch he saw and Aaron Silbar entered as a pinch runner. Silbar took off for second on a wild pitch and scored on Nick Ferraresi's RBI double to tie the game at 4-4.
Epstein had The Citadel down to its last out in the 10th but senior Nick Orvin came through with a run-scoring triple that tied the game at 5-5. After an intentional walk to Justin Mackert, Epstein retired Drew DeKerlegand on a groundout to push the game to the 11th inning.
Columbia pushed across two runs in the 11th, scoring for the third straight inning. David Vandercook stroked a leadoff triple the other way and Billy Rumpke drew a walk to start the inning. Rumpke stole second and Jordan Serena's sacrifice fly scored Vandercook to give the Lions a 6-5 lead.
Enmanuel Cabreja then singled home Rumpke to make it a 7-5 game. The Lions had bases loaded with one out but Ross White got a pair of strikeouts to end the inning.
The Citadel tied it again in the bottom of the 11th, scoring a pair of unearned runs. Zack Tax did get the final out on a fly ball as the game moved into the 12th inning, pushing four hours long.
Columbia got another leadoff extra-base hit to start the 12th. This time it was Ferraresi with a double down the line to kickstart a four-run inning. It was the only hit of the frame for Columbia, which took advantage of two Bulldog errors and two walks.
Tax held the Bulldogs scoreless in the bottom of the 12th, earning the first win of the season.
Eisen went 3-for-6 with three RBI in the game. Pizzano, Aurrichio, Ferraresi, Serena and Nick Crucet each had two hits for the Lions, who drew 13 bases on balls in the game.
Columbia took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first after there were two outs. Dario Pizzano belted a double, his first of two in the game, Nick Ferraresi followed and reached on an error that allowed Pizzano to score the first run of the contest.
The Bulldogs quickly gained the lead with two runs in the bottom of the inning against Lion starter Tim Giel.
Columbia had the first two batters reach base in the second inning when Billy Rumpke legged out an infield hit and Enmanuel Cabreja doubled against The Citadel starter Logan Cribb. Cribb responded with three strikeouts sandwiched a walk to Jon Eisen to wiggle out of the inning.
After The Citadel went ahead 3-1 in the second, Rumpke singled home Ferraresi with two outs to draw the Lions a run closer.
Columbia went up 4-3 in the sixth inning of the seven-inning game on a sacrifice fly by Eisen that tied the game and an RBI single by Nick Crucet on the very next pitch to plate the go-ahead run.
The Citadel came back with two runs in the bottom half of the sixth on a Grant Richards' two-run double off David Spinosa. Ryan Hines then retired Columbia in order in the top of the seventh to shut the door.
Columbia is back in action on Friday, March 9 when the Lions will start their spring break trip at San Jose State in San Jose, Calif. First pitch on Friday is slated for 9 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Pacific.
Columbia had the leadoff man reach base in nine of the 12 innings in game one ... the Citadel used seven pitchers in game one ... the teams combined for 433 pitches thrown during the opener which last four hours and ten minutes ... Columbia drew 13 bases on balls in the opener ... the Lions had 10 extra-base hits (nine doubles, one triple) in the doubleheader ... Columbia went three for three in stolen base attempts in game one ... Zach Epstein went four innings in relief in game one and allowed one run on one hit.