|Runs Per Game||6.2||6.8|
|Hits Per Game||9.7||11.3|
|Opp. Batting Avg.||.301||.268|
LAS VEGAS – The Columbia baseball team will look to build upon its late-season run to the Gehrig Division playoff when they begin the 2018 season at UNLV for a four-game series from February 23-25. Game one will be at 9 p.m. Friday night, followed by a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 5 p.m., with the series finale slated for 4 p.m. (all times eastern).
The Lions posted an 18-23 mark in 2017 with a 12-8 record in Ivy League play. Columbia went 7-1 to close the regular season to force the decisive playoff game before falling to Penn. The Lions return a total of seven players that have earned All-Ivy League honors at least once in their careers.
SCOUTING THE RUNNIN’ REBELS
UNLV checks in at 3-1 after topping Indiana State, Oregon and Loyola Marymount before dropping the weekend finale against the Sycamores Monday.
As a team, UNLV hit .317 with seven homers and 27 runs. Kyle Isbel went 8-for-16 (.500) with four runs scored while Nick Ames belted three dingers and posted eight RBI in the series.
Bryan Menendez earned a pair of victories in relief for the Runnin’ Rebels and struck out four batters in four perfect innings. Right-hander Alan Strong earned a no-decision after allowing one run on two hits with six strikeouts in five innings in the season opener against Indiana State.
Hall of Famer Greg Maddux serves on the UNLV as a volunteer pitching coach and his son, Chase, is a red-shirt sophomore pitcher who they Lions are slated to face in the finale on Sunday.
Columbia and UNLV will meet for the first time since a four-game swing in the desert in 2010. The Runnin’ Rebels won three of four in a high-scoring series with the clubs combining for 73 runs.
COLUMBIA AGAINST THE MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE
The Lions are 2-5 all-time against teams currently in the Mountain West Conference. Columbia’s last win against an MWC opponent came against New Mexico, a 6-5 triumph in 13 innings, in the 2013 NCAA Fullerton Regional.
Columbia was picked to finish second in the inaugural Ivy League Preseason Poll. The Lions were selected behind defending Ivy League Champions, Yale, and were followed by Dartmouth and Penn. The conference has also eliminated the Rolfe and Gehrig Divisions and each team will face off in three-game series this season with the top-two regular season finishers earning spots in the Ivy League Championship Series.
Reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, Randell Kanemaru, highlights the long list of returning Columbia players. Kanemaru hit .395, the third highest of any returning student-athlete in the NCAA, to go with seven homers and 432 RBI. Kanemaru has earned All-Ivy League status in each of his three seasons with the Lions, including Rookie of the Year accolades in 2015. The Santa Ana, California, native is a career .345 hitter and is just outside Columbia’s top-10 in all-time batting average (15), home runs and RBI (94)
BURY NICE TO HAVE YOU BACK
The Lions also bring back the Ivy League Rookie of the Year Julian Bury. Bury hit .333 with 35 runs scored from the leadoff spot and tied with Kanemaru for the team lead with 14 doubles. Bury also established himself as a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder with several diving catches that caught the attention of ESPN and social media.
Senior Ty Wiest will headline the starting staff after a strong junior campaign. Wiest, a two-time team captain, posted a pair of victories with a 4.32 ERA and 35 strikeouts, second-most on the squad.
After three seasons of working out of the bullpen, Harrisen Egly is slated to move into the starting rotation. Egly is a two-time All-Ivy League selection and Columbia’s all-time leader in saves with 11 to his name.
Columbia will return east and then south for a four-game series at USF in Tampa from March 2-4.