NEW YORK -- The Columbia softball team split its Wednesday home doubleheader against Princeton with a pair of thrilling games that were decided in the seventh inning.
Christie Taylor's suicide squeeze to plate a sprinting Emily Snodgrass from third base lifted Columbia (11-28, 5-9 Ivy League) to a 2-1 victory in the first game. In the second game, the Lions rallied back from a 2-0 deficit to knot the game at 2-2 in the sixth, but Princeton (13-26, 7-7 Ivy League) scored one run in the seventh to win, 3-2.
GAME 1: Columbia 2, Princeton 1
Princeton climbed out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. With one out and Nicole Ontiveros on second, Kelsey VandeBergh knocked a single to left field off Columbia starter Brooke Darling. An errant throw from left field to second base allowed Ontiveros to score on the play with VandeBergh advancing to third.
Columbia benefitted from some early control issues by Princeton starter Alex Peyton. Alison Lam and Alix Cook each reached base after getting hit by a pitch. Peyton settled in, inducing a fielder’s choice with Lam out at third and a swinging strikeout to leave two Lions runners stranded.
The Lions were knocking on the door again in the fourth but could not break through with runs on the scoreboard. With two outs, Liz Caggiano drew a four-pitch walk and Emily Snodgrass reached on an error at short. Peyton got out of the jam when she induced a groundout to short to end the inning.
Columbia evened the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth. Emily Caruthers reached on an error at short to start the inning and two batters later Jennifer Bergeron ripped an RBI single through the right side.
After a scoreless sixth inning, Darling induced three straight groundouts in the top of the seventh.
The bottom of the seventh provided a thrilling end to a tight game. Snodgrass connected for a single to right field on an 0-2 count. Kayla Shimoda followed with an infield single to second base, giving the Lions two runners on with no outs. Alix Cook’s 5-3 groundout advanced the runners to second and third. Christie Taylor entered to pinch hit for Alison Lam and became the hero of the game when she put down a perfect sacrifice bunt back towards the circle. Snodgrass came flying down the third base line to score the winning run.
Snodgrass was 1-of-3 with one run scored. Bergeron finished 1-of-2 with an RBI single. Taylor’s game-winning RBI was her 10th on the season.
Darling (8-14) tossed an absolute gem, striking out four and allowing no earned runs in a three-hit complete game.
Peyton (5-11) took the loss after striking out two and allowing one earned run over 6.1 innings.
GAME 2: Princeton 3, Columbia 2
Princeton once again took command of the game early, plating two runs in the first inning. With two runners on and two outs, Maddie Cousens sent the first pitch she saw from Columbia starter Kalli Schultea to right field for a two-RBI single.
The Columbia bats struggled to get going against Princeton starter Liza Kuhn, who had six strikeouts and allowed just one hit over the first three innings. In the fourth, the Lions broke through. Jennifer Bergeron reached on a fielding error at third base to start the inning and proceeded to steal second in the next at-bat. Alix Cook made the stolen base worthwhile, drilling an RBI single to left center to pull Columbia to within 2-1. The Lions’ offensive surge stalled the rest of the inning when Kuhn got a fielder’s choice with an out at second base and two foulouts to get out of the fourth.
The Lions rallied back with two outs to knot the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth. Morgan Cook got things rolling with a two-out single to center on an 0-2 pitch. She advanced to second on a wild pitch and Liz Caggiano brought her home with a hard-hit RBI single to left center.
The Tigers answered in the seventh with some two-out offense of their own to take the 3-2 lead. Alex Peyton reached with two outs when Bergeron’s throw from short was too low in the dirt and far for Morgan Cook to handle at first. Cousens also reached on another errant throw from short. With runners on the corners, Sarah McGowan hit an RBI single up the middle on a full count to drive in the go-ahead run.
Columbia opened the home seventh with an Emily Snodgrass single up the middle and a Kayla Shimoda single to shallow center field. Emily Caruthers reached on a fielder’s choice with Snodgrass out at third. Kuhn sealed the win for Princeton when she sent pinch-hitting Tristin Moone and Bergeron down swinging in the next two at-bats.
Shimoda was 2-of-3 in the game. Alix Cook and Caggiano each recorded a hit and an RBI in the game.
Schultea had the no-decision after one strikeout and two earned runs over 4.2 frames. Darling (8-14) took the loss after fanning one and allowing one unearned run in 2.1 innings of relief work.
Kuhn (6-10) earned the win after striking out eight and allowing one earned run over seven frames.
Columbia and Princeton will start their Saturday doubleheader at 12:30 p.m. Be sure to follow the action with free live stats and a free live blog on GoColumbiaLions.com.