NEW YORK - The Columbia baseball team improved to 9-3 in the Ivy League with a Sunday split against Cornell at Satow Stadium. The Lions dropped a tough 5-4 loss in the opener Sunday in 10 innings, but bounced back to capture game two by a score of 5-2.
The Lions remain one game ahead of Princeton in the Gehrig Division standings, as the Tigers are 8-4 after sweeping Penn Sunday.
GAME ONE RECAP Cornell used a seventh inning RBI by Ryan Plantier to tie the opening game Sunday at 4-4, forcing extra innings and then closed out their only win of the series in the 10th on an Eliot Lowell RBI single to defeat Columbia, 5-4.
The Cornell offense that had been stagnant for most Saturday, was alive and well in the top of the first inning Sunday. Plantier recorded his first RBI of the contest when he drove in JD Whetsel with a single to left field to put the Big Red up 1-0. Tom D’Alessandro doubled the lead for Cornell in the next at bat, racing out a bunt safely, while Chris Cruz came home to score. Kevin Tatum provided Cornell’s third run of the inning with a single out to left field, plating Plantier.
The Big Red carried that 3-0 lead up until the bottom of the fourth, where the Lions struck with three tallies of their own. Jordan Serena made a heads up play to begin the inning, racing down to first base after swinging at strike three in the dirt and reaching safely without an attempt from the Cornell catcher to throw him out, giving the Lions an extra out.
Alex Black followed with one of his three hits of the game, singling through the left side, which advanced Serena around to third. Joey Falcone made it three Columbia players to reach base safely to begin the inning, driving a single to centerfield to score the Lions first run of the game. Black, now on third, came in to score in the next Columbia at bat when Nick Ferraresi grounded out to short. Three batters later, Nick Crucet produced the tying run with an infield single to second base that brought Falcone home.
The Lions took the lead the next inning, going up 4-3 on a Black RBI. Serena again reached safely, this time with a single to third base. The sophomore then showed off his speed, stealing second and making the trek to third on a wild pitch from McAfee. Black notched the go-ahead run when he slammed a 2-2 pitch to centerfield to allow Serena to jog home for the Lions’ fourth run.
Columbia would carry the lead into the top of the seventh, with Columbia starter Tim Giel giving way to Black, who came on for the save attempt. Unfortunately, the Big Red would come through with a tying run of their own, thanks to a leadoff double from Brenton Peters and a RBI from Plantier. Peters would make his way over to third on a Whetsel single and then come home on a grounder off Plantier’s bat. The throw from third would pull Mike Fischer off the plate, giving Peters the necessary room to score. Cornell held the Lions scoreless in the bottom portion of the inning, sending the game to extra frames.
The two squads would play the eighth and ninth without a tally for either side, but Cornell would strike again in the 10th. Tatem would get Cornell its first base runner of the inning, singling to right field. Forrest Crawford would then come on to pinch run for Tatem, moving up to second on a wild pitch. Two batters later, Lowell knocked a single to left that allowed Crawford to score from second and give the Big Red a 5-4 lead they would not relinquish.
Cornell’s Matt Horton came on in the tenth and stranded Ferraresi on third after striking out two Columbia batters, earning the save. Eric Upton, who relieved McAfee in the fifth would pick up his second win of the year, while Zack Tax was credited with his first loss of the season. Black finished the game 3-for-4 with a RBI and run scored, as well as a walk to pace the Lions’s offense. Falcone also tallied one RBI and crossed the plate once.
GAME TWO RECAP In the final game of the series, Columbia handed Zach McCulley his first loss of the season, downing the Big Red, 5-2. McCulley was third Cornell pitcher to suffer his first loss of the season this weekend, with Nick Busto and Brent Jones going down at the hands of the Columbia hitters as well.
First-year Adam Cline recorded his third victory of the year, throwing five innings, while allowing just two runs on two hits. Thomas Crispi and Stefan Olson each came on in relief, pitching two innings apiece of scoreless baseball. Falcone shined at the plate for Columbia, going 2-for-4 and driving in a pair of runs.
Cline and McCulley each got through the first two frames, facing the minimum six batters before the Lions offense awoke in the third, while also capitalizing on a pair of Cornell errors. David Vandercook opened the inning, reaching safely at first on a throwing error by McCulley. Vandercook made his way around to third on a Crucet sacrifice bunt and Fischer fly out, bringing Eric Williams to the plate. The senior roped a single out to left field, putting Columbia up 1-0. Serena then followed with a single to put two runners aboard with two down and Black coming up to bat.
For the second time Sunday, the Lions were given an extra out, this time as Black reached first after a strikeout on an error from Cornell catcher Collin McGee on the throw down. The error gave Williams an opening to score, increasing Columbia’s lead to 2-0. Falcone then stood in and hit a single to the left side of the infield that he beat out as Serena scored.
Cornell would fight back with two runs of their own in the top of the fifth. The Big Red loaded the bases with the first four batters of the inning reaching safely. Columbia then traded outs for runs with Conor McCabe and Lowell earning RBIs before Cline got McGee to strike out to maintain the Lions lead by one run, 3-2.
Columbia came right back in the bottom half of the inning with another run of their own, again produced by designated hitter Falcone. Serena reached on a fielder’s choice and then made the Big Red pay with two more stolen bases before Falcone completed his trip around the bases with a single to left field. Serena now is 23-of-24 on stolen base attempts this season after going 8-for-8 in the four games this weekend.
The Lions added their fifth run to the scoreboard in the bottom of the eighth when Nick Crucet plated Ferraresi on an infield single.
Olson, in his first appearance on the hill for Columbia this year, pitched two clean innings to notch the save. Crispi also threw a pair of hitless innings, while the three Columbia pitchers combined to strike out eight Cornell batters.
Next weekend will feature a premiere four-game series as Columbia visits Princeton in a battle of the top two teams in the Gehrig Division. The Lions (9-3) hold a one-game advantage on the Tigers (8-4) with back-to-back doubleheaders next Saturday and Sunday going off at 1 p.m. at Clarke Field.
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