Updated 6/2, 7:15 p.m.
After a furious comeback Saturday night, the Lions couldn't recapture the same magic on Sunday and fell to Arizona State, 10-5. The loss elimated Columbia fom the tournament, concluding one of the most successful seasons in program history.
Columbia (28-20, 16-4 Ivy) started senior Stefan Olson, and the righty didn't make it out of the third inning. He gave up a home run on the first pitch of the game, and finished with six runs surrendered in the two-plus innings of work. Freshman Adam Cline came on in relief and didn't have much more success, giving up four runs in two innings of work. Junior Zack Tax pitched the final five frames, retiring 15 of the 16 batters he faced to keep the Sun Devils (37-21-1) at 10 runs.
But the Light Blue couldn't get enough going offensively to counter Arizona State's attack. Sophomore DH Joey Falcone ripped a two-RBI double down the rightfield line in the first inning to put the Lions ahead, 2-1, but Columbia never regained the lead after that.
A significant part of the problem was that the Light Blue left 13 men on base, including the bases loaded in the second and third innings.
The script was different on Saturday, though, where Lions may have looked dead to rights to begin the penultimate frame of their game against New Mexico, but they silenced all doubters with a tremendous comeback to win their first NCAA Tournament game in program history.
Columbia topped New Mexico (37-22), 6-5, in a 13-inning contest, bouncing back from a 4-1 loss to Cal State Fullerton on Friday to stay alive. The Lobos' second loss at regionals ended their season.
Despite the outcome, the game got off to an inauspicious start for the Light Blue. New Mexico’s bats performed well against righty Tim Giel, who started the game for Columbia. The senior gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings, and after seven innings the Lions were staring at a five-run deficit.
But Columbia’s bats finally got going in the top of the eighth.
Senior first baseman Alex Black put the Light Blue on the board with a two-run blast that scored sophomore center fielder Jordan Serena. The Lions tacked on two more runs on a single by senior second baseman Nick Crucet, and a single by junior catcher Mike Fischer tied the game at five.
The game remained tied until the 13th, thanks in large part to the pitching performance of Columbia’s Joey Donino, who came on in relief of Giel in the bottom of the sixth. The junior righty gave the Lions 6 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out eight Lobos.
Finally, in the top of the 13th, another Crucet single knocked in senior right fielder Nick Ferraresi to earn his third RBI of the game and put the Lions on top. Ferraresi avoided the tag at the plate by sneaking in his heel at the corner of the dish on his slide.
Senior Alex Black got the save in the bottom of the 13th. He walked the leadoff hitter, who advanced to third after a sacrifice bunt and a groundout to first. But Black struck out one of the nation's best hitters, D.J. Peterson, to end the game on a high fastball. Peterson came into the weekend third in the country in both average (.410) and home runs (18).