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NEW YORK – Winners of the last five of six games, Columbia will host Harvard and Dartmouth to kick off the 2013 Ivy League baseball season at Robertson Field at Satow Stadium.

The Lions will first take on Harvard in a doubleheader on Saturday, March 30 beginning at noon before closing out March play with a pair of games vs. Dartmouth also slated to begin at noon on Sunday, March 31. The first game each day will be a seven-inning contest, followed by a nine-inning game two.

Saturday’s game vs. the Crimson is designated as a Student Rewards Program event.  All students are encouraged to attend the game for free and earn credit to great prizes.  The first 50 students get a free gift!  Remember to bring a valid student ID.

Last Time Out
The Lions (7-12) recently had a five-game winning streak snapped by New York City rival Manhattan on Wednesday as the Jaspers shutout the Lions 4-0 in the second end of a doubleheader. Columbia picked up its fifth straight win earlier in the day with a 6-3 victory behind the arm of Columbia reliever Zack Tax (1-0), who blanked the Jaspers (10-10) without any hits or runs while fanning two over two innings of work on the hill.

Scouting Harvard
Harvard (3-11) recently had a two-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday, falling in its home opener to Holy Cross by a 9-4 score.

The Crimson picked up its only back-to-back victories of the season with 4-3 and 6-1 wins at Houston Baptist to get out of an 11-game losing rut after a 10-inning 2-1 season opening win over Bucknell.

Harvard’s winning streak was due in large part to the performance of first-year right-handed pitcher Sean Poppen, who picked up Ivy League Co-Rookie accolades this week. Poppen went the distance in the rubber match at Houston Baptist, allowing three hits and one run over nine innings, while striking out three. He marks the first Crimson pitcher to record a complete game this season.

The Harvard pitching staff has struggled on the hill a bit this year, combining for a 6.69 overall ERA. Poppen, Baron Davis and Matt Sanders have each notched one win apiece.

At the plate, the Crimson are hitting just .232 overall. Brandon Kregel leads the squad in runs (seven), doubles (five) and triples (two), while Mike Martin paces the team with a .353 batting averages and two stolen bases on the year.

All-Time Series vs. the Crimson
The rivalry between Columbia and Harvard dates back to 1886 as Harvard holds a 85-55-1 all-time series advantage. The two teams split their meetings last year as Columbia bounced back from a 6-2 loss in game one with a convincing 10-1 victory in the second game of the day.

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Scouting Dartmouth
The Big Green sport a 12-1 record heading into the first weekend of Ivy League action. Dartmouth’s lone loss of the 2013 campaign to date was a 7-3 downing at the hands of Slippery Rock in Winter Haven, Fla. on March 20. With the best win percentage in the Ancient Eight (0.923), the Big Green have put themselves in the discussion for a national ranking, receiving votes in the March 25 NCBWA poll.

Dartmouth went 8-1 in their Spring Break excursion to Florida before returning to Hanover, N.H. to defeat Siena in its first home game, 15-7, this past Wednesday.

Outfielder Nick Ruppert has paced the Big Green starting lineup at the plate, posting a .395 batting average and is tied with third baseman Nick Lombardi with a team-best 17 hits. Lombardi has set the standard for run production for Dartmouth, tallying 18 RBI in 11 games, and currently ranks third in the nation with 0.6 doubles per game.

Michael Johnson and Mitch Horacek have each notched three wins from the mound this season. Johnson leads the team with 19 innings thrown and 23 strikeouts, holding a 1.89 ERA. The senior is this week’s reigning Ivy League Pitcher of the Week after he won a pair of games last week to help the Big Green improve to its best 12-game start in program history. Johnson threw 13 innings, allowing just 10 hits and two runs, while striking out 18. He finished with an ERA of 1.38 on the week.

All-Time Series vs. the Big Green
Columbia and Dartmouth have faced each other in 169 meetings with the Big Green holding a 100-69 all-time series record. The Lions split their doubleheader with Dartmouth last season, picking up a 4-3 win in the first game of the day before falling by an 11-3 score in game two.

Piling the Punchouts
Columbia pitchers combined for 39 strikeouts over three games vs. NYIT last weekend, highlighted by Adam Cline's impressive 14-strikeout performance in eight innings of work in game two on Friday. David Speer carried the Lions to their first home win of the season as he threw a complete game with 10 K's over seven innings. Joey Donino was the third pitcher to reach double figures as he fashioned a career-high 11 strikeouts in the series finale while adding another pair of K’s to close out game two.

Black in Business
Senior Alex Black has been a force as a utility player for the Lions, making his mark at first, at the plate and on the hill. Batting .295 on the season, the co-captain has knocked in 10 RBI to go with 18 hits and three homeruns. On the mound, Black has thrown 8.1 innings with seven strikeouts as one of Columbia’s top closers.

Making History
History was made on multiple levels earlier this season as the Lions notched an 8-4 upset over Arizona. It was the first time in program history that the Lions faced a defending national championship team, and subsequently the first time to have ever defeated a team bearing that title. Columbia reliever Joey Donino earned the win, and in turn picked up the first Ivy League Pitcher of the Week honors of his career. Donino marks the first Columbia reliever to garner Pitcher of the Week honors since former reliever and starter Chris Kotes received the award back on March 26, 1990. Kotes was later drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 23rd round of the 1991 MLB draft.

Ivy League Pitcher of the Week Honors
Columbia reliever Joey Donino was named Ivy League Co-Pitcher of the Week on March 12 after lifting the Lions to their first win of the season against No. 16 Arizona. The junior gave up just one hit on no runs in two innings of work during the 8-4 victory against the Wildcats on Saturday. Donino came on in the sixth inning as Arizona led 4-1 after scoring all of its runs in the fifth. The Avon, Conn. native held the Wildcats scoreless while his teammates rallied with two runs in the sixth and another five in the seventh to notch the win. In the rubber match of the series on Sunday, Donino came out of the pen with two on and nobody out in the eighth, posting two outs with one strikeout to get Columbia out of the jam.

College Sports Madness
College Sports Madness named Columbia pitcher Adam Cline the Madness Ivy League Baseball Player of the Week for his exceptional performance vs. NYIT last weekend. CSM identifies the players who have made the greatest impact to their team from each conference and on a national basis each week. Cline lifted the Lions to a 2-0 shutout over NYIT as he threw a career-high 14 strikeouts in eight innings of work while holding the Bears scoreless with just two hits.

2013 Lions
The 2013 Lions feature 20 returning letterman, including second team All-Ivy first baseman Alex Black and honorable mention All-Ivy selections Stefan Olson and Nick Ferraresi. Columbia has 10 position players with starting experience and nine pitchers that recorded innings last season. A talented class of 10 newcomers, including outfielder Joey Falcone, the 2011 CUNY and ECAC Rookie of the Year transfer from the College of Staten Island, rounds out the Columbia veterans. The Lions ended the 2012 season with 21 wins and a 12-8 Ivy League record. It was the second 20-win season and Ivy League winning season for the program in the last three years.

Captains Make It Happen
Columbia seniors Alex Black, Tim Giel and Nick Ferraresi will serve as Columbia's captains in the 2013 season. All three are All-Ivy League players and vocal leaders on and off the diamond.

Ferraresi Has Class
Nick Ferraresi was selected as a candidate for the 2013 Senior CLASS Award. He is one of 30 NCAA baseball student-athletes in the running for the prestigious honor. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition.

Pre-Season Accolades
Columbia racked up a variety of preseason accolades prior to kicking off the 2013 season. Among Ivy League players, CollegeBaseballInsider.com named senior outfielder Nick Ferraresi the conference's "most underrated hitter," Nick Crucet the "best baserunner" and Mike Fischer the "best defensive catcher." From a leadership standpoint, Columbia head coach Brett Boretti was picked as the "best game coach." Baseball America also previewed each league and predicted Columbia right-handed pitcher Tim Giel to be the Ivy League Pitcher of the Year.


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