NEW YORK - The Columbia baseball team extended its winning streak to five with a 5-3 victory over Big East opponent St. John’s on Tuesday afternoon at Robertson Field at Satow Stadium. With the win, the Lions improved to 14-15 on the season while the Red Storm fell to 13-19.
Tuesday’s victory reflected the solid team effort put together by the Lions. Four different Columbia student-athletes drove in runs, while six pitchers took the bump during the victory. Right-hand hurler Zack Tax notched his third win of the season, striking out three and giving up just one run on two hits in two innings of work for Columbia. Alex Black, Jordan Serena and David Vandercook each recorded a pair of hits in the game to pace the Lions offense.
The Lions took the first lead of the game in the bottom of the second. Sophomore Vandercook scored the first of his two runs when he crossed the plate following an error on the Red Storm’s shortstop. Senior Nick Crucet was credited with the RBI on the play, reaching safely at first with two outs, as Kyle Lombardo’s throw bounced past first base.
St. John’s responded in the next half inning with a trio of runs to go ahead 3-1. The top of the third began with a walk for Joe Burns, who advanced to third when Black’s attempt to get him out at second on Ty Blankmeyer’s ground ball sailed into left field.
With runners on the corners, the Lions made their first pitching change, bringing in Tax. After a hit batter and a strikeout, Sean O’Hare posted St. John’s first run with a single to left field, scoring Burns. Frank Schwindel shifted the lead in the Red Storm’s favor in the next at bat with a sacrifice fly to deep center to bring in Blankmeyer. Zach Lauricella made it three straight batters with a RBI when he ground-rule doubled over the right field fence to score Martin Kelly. Tax would get out of the inning with a strike out of designated hitter Danny Bethea.
Columbia’s pitching and defense buckled down from that point, as the Red Storm would fail to score the remainder of the contest, while the Lions’ offense chipped away and then regained the lead over the next four innings.
The Lions cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the third, scoring one run with two outs. Serena smacked a hard liner off the third baseman’s glove and was able to stretch it into a double as the ball dribbled out to shallow left field. Serena would advance to third on a passed ball before Black slammed a RBI single to left field to bring the score to 3-2.
After forcing the Red Storm to go three up, three down in the top of the fourth, the Lions regained the lead with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Columbia loaded the bases with one out, using a Vandercook double, a walk by Crucet and a hit by pitcher to Mike Fischer. Eric Williams provided the game-tying run with a RBI in the next at bat on his ground out to short and then the Lions took the lead during the next at bat when Crucet scored on a wild pitch that reached the back stop.
The Lions added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth when Joey Falcone earned a walk with the bases loaded to plate Williams. Black, who played first base the first eight innings, came on to pitch in the ninth and picked up his third save of the season, striking out two in the final frame.
Columbia returns to Ivy League action this weekend, looking to maintain its perch atop the Gehrig Division. The Cornell Big Red make the trek to New York City for a four-game set that begins Saturday at noon at Robertson Field at Satow Stadium.
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