Sports | Baseball

CU baseball splits four game series with Big Red, Lions maintain division lead

The Columbia Lions have made it through yet another weekend of Ivy League play and still remain atop the Gehrig Division of the Ancient Eight.

This weekend, the Light Blue traveled upstate to Ithaca to face Cornell (13-19, 6-10 Ivy) and split the four games over the course of two days.

The contests began on Saturday with a twin bill. Both games were battles between pitchers, with the Light Blue and the Big Red splitting the pair of games.

Cornell won the first matchup by a score of 1-0. Columbia’s Pat Lowery faced off against Corey Pappel, and the pair dueled through six straight innings of shutout baseball.

Lowery pitched the entire game, allowing only three hits in 22 at-bats over 6.2 innings. In the bottom of the seventh, Lowery hit the second batter and then gave up a single, landing him with two men on. A fielder’s choice during the next at-bat put men on the corners, and a single to right-center brought around the first and only run of the game.

The second game was yet again a late-scoring contest—this time it took until the sixth inning to put any runs on the board.

Tim Giel took the mound for Columbia and allowed only four hits over seven innings, while Tony Bertucci represented Cornell with less success.

Bertucci gave up two hits each in the third, fourth, and fifth innings before the Light Blue’s bats really exploded in the sixth.

To start the sixth, designated hitter Alexander Aurrichio launched one down the right-field line for a solo home run and Columbia’s first run of the weekend. Nick Ferraresi then doubled, Dario Pizzano flied out, and Alex Ferrera doubled to score Ferraresi.

The Big Red failed to respond in the bottom of the inning, and the Lions went on to increase their lead to three in the seventh when a single by Aurrichio brought Dean Forthun home.

Geoff Whitaker came in to pitch in the eighth, and the entire inning passed without runs or hits, but the Big Red put together a small rally in the bottom of the ninth.

The first batter knocked a solo home run and the second doubled. Another double two batters later put a second run on the board for Cornell. The Big Red failed to capitalize on the momentum, though, as the final batter of the inning struck out looking to close the game with the Lions on top, 3-2.

In the second game, Aurrichio led the charge from the batter’s box, contributing three hits to Columbia’s total of 14. Jason Banos, Forthun, and Ferraresi each added two in the game.

In the first half of Sunday’s twin bill, it was Dan Bracey who first took the mound for the Light Blue, and it was Bracey who left the mound at the end of the game with the Lions ahead 4-1.

Columbia’s first run came in the third inning off the bat of Jon Eisen. Eisen’s single through the right side brought around Billy Rumpke, who had led off the inning with a single of his own.

The Big Red, however, was able to tie up the game in the bottom of the fourth when the first batter up to the plate knocked one out of the park. Bracey struck out two of the next three batters, and caused the other r r Cornell batter to fly out to left.

The Light Blue responded right away, posting another two runs in the top of the fifth. The run began with a single from Nick Crucet. Eisen then singled, and advanced to second on an error that also brought Crucet around home. Cornell committed yet another error, which allowed Forthun to reach first and Eisen to take home. Though both runs were unearned, the Lions were still up 3-1.

The lead was stretched to three in the sixth with a solo home run by Ferrera.

Cornell was not allowed another run for the rest of the game. With the win, the Lions went up 2-1 in the series, giving Bracey his fourth win of the season. Eisen and Rumpke both went 2-for-3 in the game.

The final game of the weekend featured a 7-0 loss at the hands of the Big Red in only five-and-a-half innings after the game was delayed due to rain and eventually called because of darkness.

The first inning-and-a-half featured three Columbia hits, but no runs. Then, in the bottom of the second, Cornell drew first blood.

The Big Red took starter Stefan Olson for a ride, recording four hits and three runs in just three outs.

Eric Williams came in to pitch after the first two batters in the third. Williams didn’t give up any more hits, but the damage had already been done, and a flyout to center field brought around the Big Red’s fourth run.

Columbia couldn’t respond with even a hit in the top of the fourth, so the Big Red went ahead and increased its lead to seven in the bottom of a frame that featured only two total hits, but two errors as well.

The fifth and the top of the sixth saw little improvement before the game was eventually called due to darkness.

Though the team went 2-2 on the weekend, the Light Blue is now 20-18 this season and 11-5 in the Ancient Eight, which is good enough for the top spot in the Gehrig Division.

Next up, the Lions take the field for a doubleheader against local rival Fordham on Wednesday before their final weekend of regular conference competition against the Penn Quakers.

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