The Lions (12-16, 5-3 Ivy) will continue their long stretch away from home on Tuesday when they head to Queens for a challenging matchup with St. John’s (18-13), which is 8-2 at home this season.
Columbia will try to continue its success in midweek games, having defeated Army and Rutgers the past two Wednesdays, while the Red Storm, currently in fourth place in the Big East, will look for its eighth straight win over the Lions. The two teams will renew their annual matchup after last year’s game was rained out.
“It’s always a game that when you get the schedule at the beginning of the year, you circle,” head coach Brett Boretti said. “I don’t know when the last time Columbia beat St. John’s was, but we’ve come close a couple times.”
That last win over St. John’s was back in 2003, but after a string of blowouts in the years that followed, Columbia has indeed been more competitive with the Red Storm. In 2009, Columbia fell 2-1, and when they last met in 2010, the Lions dropped an extraordinary 22-21 contest at Kaiser Stadium.
This year, St. John’s’ offense has been heating up, posting a .299 average in its last 22 games. In fact, the Red Storm is coming off a weekend series in New Jersey, where it recorded a season-high 17 runs and 19 hits in the series rubber match against Rutgers, a team that the Lions defeated 7-6 last week.
Senior middle infielder Matt Wessinger—who leads St. John’s with a .355 batting average and 30 runs—will present problems for the Light Blue. Additionally, slugging junior outfielder Jeremy Baltz leads the Red Storm with five home runs and is one blast away from breaking the St. John’s all-time record of 35 home runs.
As usual, Columbia will send out a mix of pitchers who do not get the opportunity to start weekend games, and the number of pitchers used will depend on pitch counts. The Lions’ pitching staff will hope to rebound from a tough outing in their last game, in which the bullpen allowed nine earned runs at Dartmouth.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to go out and play it out there and do our best,” Boretti said. “We’re looking forward to going over there and playing hard and seeing what we can do against the Jonnies.”
Tuesday’s game will be Columbia’s final hurdle before opening up divisional play with Cornell, the Lou Gehrig Division leader, this weekend.
First pitch is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Kaiser Stadium in Queens.