TUCSON, Ariz. - It was the first time in program history that the Columbia baseball team faced a defending national championship team, but the Lions did not hold back Friday night at Arizona, fighting neck-and-neck into the bottom of the ninth before the Wildcats walked off with a 4-3 victory.
A pitching duel broke out over a scoreless four frames before Columbia (0-5) ended the spell with a run in the fifth. Logan Boyher, who went 3-of-4 overall including two runs, sparked the inning with a leadoff single. Mike Fischer drove Boyher home with a two-out triple to put the Lions in front.
Columbia starting pitching David Speer held off the Wildcats through six, allowing the Lions to rally into a 3-0 advantage at the top of the seventh. Boyher once again led things off with a single, and David Vandercook drew a walk to put two runners on. Aaron Silbar then knocked a short one toward third base, but Arizona's Brandon Dixon bounced his throw off the glove of secondbasemen Trent Gilbert as Boyher came around to score his second run.
Fischer bunted to place runners at second and third with only one out, and Jordan Serena drove in Vandercook on a sacrifice fly to extend Columbia's lead, 3-0.
Adam Cline came in to relieve Speer in the seventh, holding the Wildcats to another scoreless 1-2-3 inning. However Arizona put power behind the bats in the eighth to even the score, 3-3.
An error by Columbia shortstop Silbar allowed Dixon to reach base. He then stole second and advanced to third on a single by Gilbert. With runners at each corner, Kevin Newman lined another single into right-center field to send in Dixon and advance Gilbert to third.
Thomas Crispi came in to relieve Cline, letting up a sacrifice fly to right center to make it 3-2 as Gilbert scored on the play. A single through the left side tied things up before the inning reitired with a 3-3 score.
The Lions went three up, three down in the top of the ninth. Arizona's Zach Gibbons rallied in the bottom of inning with a leadoff triple. After walking the next batter, David Spinosa came in for relief. A walkoff single by Johnny Field sent Gibbons home for the score as the Wildcats edged Columbia with a 4-3 win.
The Lions and Wildcats are back in action tomorrow at 8 p.m. EST for part two of the three-game set.