For left fielder Marc Gold, there was only word that summed up Columbia's extra-innings win over Monmouth on Thursday: "Relief."
In a game that lasted 14 innings, four hours, and saw 12 combined pitchers and 107 total at-bats, the Lions came back twice and outlasted the Hawks by a score of 8-7.
With the game tied at seven in the 14th, center fielder/pitcher Henry Perkins led off the inning with a triple. A groundout by shortstop Craig Rodwogin failed to score the runner, but Gold followed with the game-winning walk-off single to left to win it for the Lions.
"The infield was in, the outfielders were in, and there was one out," Gold said afterwards. "All I was trying to do was hit the ball out of the infield."
The RBI single was the culmination of a series of Columbia rallies all game. Down 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth, right fielder Noah Cooper doubled down the right field line. A Kyle Roberts groundball to second moved Cooper up to third, and a sacrifice fly by Perkins tied the game at five.
The contest then moved into extra innings, with both sides swapping zeroes until the 13th, when a two-run home run by Hawks shortstop Nick Massari off of sophomore Alex Lewis gave Monmouth the 7-5 lead. The Lions, however, refused to go down without a fight.
After first baseman Ronnie Williams struck out to start the bottom of the inning, pinch hitter Mike Malfettone singled up the middle. Freshman Joey Mizzoni came in to pinch run, and another single by third baseman Spencer Silverstein put runners on first and second. A groundout to the catcher advanced both runners before a wild pitch allowed Mizzoni to score. Cooper then hit a single up the middle to score Silverstein and tie the game once again.
Monmouth wasted no time getting on the board, putting up two runs in the first off of junior Daniel Bajger. After retiring the first batter, Bajger allowed a single to Massari. One batter later, center fielder Patrick Sullivan ripped a double to right center, plating Massari. First baseman Andy Meyers singled in Sullivan to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead.
Monmouth tacked on three more runs in the third against junior Andrew Walther. After a double by right fielder Kyle Messineo, catcher Mike Hussa hit a two-run blast to center field to give the Hawks a 4-0 advantage. Monmouth added an RBI single from designated hitter Rick Niederhaus before the Lions got out of the inning.
Columbia's bats finally awoke in the fifth, as the Lions scored four runs on four hits and an error. The biggest hit of the inning was a two-run double by Rodwogin that cut the Monmouth lead to 5-4. The Lions stranded Rodwogin at second, however, and neither team would score again until the ninth.
The hard-fought win improved the Lions' record to 7-19, while also boosting their confidence for the upcoming weekend road series against Dartmouth and Harvard.
"It just shows that we can compete with anybody up here," Gold said. "Hopefully we can ride this momentum through the weekend."