PHILADELPHIA – The Columbia baseball team clinched the 2013 regular season Ivy League championship after finishing off the series sweep of Penn on Saturday at Mieklejohn Stadium. The strong arm of Tim Giel propelled the Lions to edge the Quakers 1-0 in game one before the bats powered a 6-4 victory in part two of the twin bill.
“The second game was a real team effort,” said head coach Brett Boretti after the game. “It wasn’t the cleanest game, but our guys came out and found a way to win. We are excited to have an opportunity to host the Ivy League Championships and I am proud of the Ivy League season our guys put together.”
Columbia closed out the regular season in style with a 24-19 overall record and a program-best 16-4 Ivy League mark. The Lions’ 16 Ivy League wins are the most in a single season in school history.
With the sweep comes home field advantage for the Lions, as it guarantees that the Ivy League Championship will be held at Satow Stadium next weekend. The series will begin Saturday, May 4 with a doubleheader, with game three, if necessary, played Sunday, May 5. Start times have yet to be determined.
Columbia will battle Dartmouth for the conference crown. The Big Green ensured a spot in the championship with a sweep of Harvard earlier today.
Next weekend will mark the first time the Lions have played in and hosted the Ivy League Championship series since 2010, when Columbia fell to Dartmouth despite a hard-fought run. The Lions’ last Ivy League title came on the road against the Big Green back in 2008.
GAME ONE RECAP The first game of Saturday’s doubleheader turned out to be a pitcher’s duel, as the starting pitchers combined to allow just five hits and one run. Columbia starter Tim Giel threw six shutout innings, giving up just two hits and striking out six before giving way to Alex Black for the save. Penn’s starter, Dan Geutieri also pitched well, giving up just three hits in seven innings, but allowed the game’s lone run in the third inning.
“Tim Geil carried us through the first one before Black came on to close it out,” said coach Boretti.
Nick Crucet notched the Lions first hit of the contest to lead off the third. The senior took matters into his own hands to work around the diamond, swiping a pair of bases to put himself on third with just one out. Eric Williams provided the difference-making run two batters later, sending a deep fly ball to center that brought home Crucet.
The Quakers put themselves in position to knot the score in the bottom half of the inning, putting runners on second and third with just one out, but Giel got Michael Vilardo to look at strike three and then induced a groundout from Connor Betbeze to end the frame.
Penn’s best opportunity to tie the game came in the bottom of the seventh. Spencer Branigan started things off with a walk and was then pinch run for by Brian Hurst. Hurst made his way to third on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Mincher and a ground out by Mitch Montaldo. Third was as far as Hurst would get though, as Alex Black recorded his fourth save of the season with a strikeout of pinch-hitter Joey Greco.
Black and Aaron Silbar matched Crucet, going 1-for-3 at the dish for Columbia only three hits.
GAME TWO RECAP The Lions jumped out to a 4-0 lead after four innings, but the Quakers brought it within two with a single run in three consecutive frames before Columbia was able to close out the game, 6-4, completing the sweep and locking up home-field advantage for the Ivy League Championship.
Kevin Roy (2-1) earned the win for the Lions after tossing two innings with one hit, one run and two strikeouts.
Columbia belted out nine hits to Penn’s five, led by Black’s 2-for-3 outing that included three RBI, a homer and two walks. A total of eight Lions tallied a hit in the victory.
Williams drew a leadoff walk and got into scoring position as Jordan Serena singled into left field. Black made it count with a single into center field, sending Williams to the plate for the first run of the game. Joey Falcone then grounded out into a double play, but Serena was able to make it home in time to make it 2-0, Columbia.
The bats came out strong in the third, as Mike Fischer led off with a double down the left field line. Black then tallied his seventh home run of the season with a two-run blast over the center field wall to boost Columbia’s lead to 4-0.
Penn posted its first score of the day in the bottom of the frame with a trio of singles. Kukowski led off with a base hit to left field, and Gary Tesch followed suit with an infield single to the pitcher. Vilardo then drove in Kukowski for the run as he cranked a single down the middle to cut Columbia’s lead to 4-1.
A fielding error by Columbia proved costly in the fourth, allowing Mincher to reach first and eventually score after an RBI double down the left field line by Tesch.
Columbia answered by tacking on another run in the fifth. Williams would score once again after singling to left field and working his way around to third thanks to a groundout by Serena and a wild pitch. Designated hitter John Kinne then nailed an RBI single into right field to plate Williams and extend Columbia’s lead at 5-2.
However, Penn continued to rally with its third consecutive scoring inning to tighten things at 5-3. Kevin Roy came in to relieve Cline, and walked Rick Brebner with one out. Branigan then grounded out for out number two, allowing Brebner to reach third with the Lions made the easy play at first. A RBI single by Ryan Deitrech would be all Brebner needed to reach home safely and make it a two-run game.
After a quiet sixth inning for both sides, the Lions roared with an insurance run in the seventh. Nick Maguire came in to pinch hit for Kinne and cranked an RBI single up the middle to score Williams, who reached base by drawing a walk earlier in the frame.
Another Columbia fielding error in the bottom of the eighth consequently turned into a run for the Quakers, allowing Montaldo to score. But that would be as close Penn would come the rest of the way en route to Columbia’s record-breaking victory.
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