Baseball won its first two games of Ivy League competition this weekend against Yale at home. The Light Blue picked up one win Saturday and another on Sunday in the first game of a doubleheader before losing the third and final game.
As defending Ivy champions, Yale (4-13, 1-2 Ivy) entered this season as Columbia’s fiercest rival, ranked No. 1 in the Ivy League according to the preseason poll. The Light Blue (5-16, 2-1 Ivy) came in second in the poll. The Lions won Saturday’s game 11-10 after a massive seven-run comeback in the ninth inning. Their success continued during the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader when they broke the tie in the eighth inning to win 6-5. The Bulldogs would finally answer in the third game of the series, easily winning 8-2.
Game 1: Columbia 11, Yale 10
The Lions won the first game against Yale on Saturday afternoon in dramatic fashion, coming back after trailing 10-4 as they headed into the bottom of the ninth inning. Senior second baseman Randell Kanemaru drove in the game-winning run with a hit to deep right center field.
Columbia jumped to an early lead against the Bulldogs on Saturday with a solo home-run each from sophomore designated hitter Liam McGill and junior first baseman Chandler Bengtson. Senior starting pitcher Ty Wiest began to struggle in the fourth inning, and sophomore relief pitcher Leo Pollack replaced him. Pollack pitched three innings and only allowed one run.
The Lions, however, squandered their two-run lead as senior relief pitchers Bryce Barr and Brett Gannaway allowed a combined eight earned runs in two and one-third innings, which set up the miraculous comeback in the bottom of the ninth.
Kanemaru sparked the Lions’ rally with a single to lead off the ninth, which the Lions followed with three straight singles. Then the Bulldogs imploded, walking in two runs and allowing a run on an errant throw to second base. With the winning run on second base, the Light Blue was able to pick up an important walk-off win. Former Ivy League player of the year Kanemaru hit an RBI single, coming to the plate for the second time that inning.
Game 2: Columbia 6, Yale 5
The Bulldogs collected a solid lead early in the second game of the series, leading 5-2 as they went into the bottom of the sixth. After a sloppy half inning from Yale’s defense, the Lions scored three runs to tie the game.
Then in the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, junior left fielder Joe Engel sacrificed to center field, allowing junior Griffin Williams to score and give the Lions their first lead of the day.
First-year pitcher Billy Black took to the mound at the top of the ninth and struck out the first batter he faced. Yale threatened with a double to deep left from infielder Alex Stiegler, followed by a fly out from infielder Benny Wanger to deep right that neared the wall. But with one out remaining in the game, Black struck out the final batter in just three pitches and secured the second win of Ivy League play for Columbia.
Game 3: Yale 8, Columbia 2
Senior starting pitcher Harrisen Egly got off to a strong start in the final game of the series. Egly struck out three of the first seven batters he faced and five total in his five innings of work. But the Bulldogs strung together three singles with two outs in the bottom of the second inning to earn the first run of the game.
Kanemaru answered back in the bottom of the third with a solo home run, tying the game at 1-1. In the top of the fourth, the Bulldogs earned a walk and then doubled down the left field line, placing runners on second and third with no outs. Egly struck out another batter before Yale’s catcher Tom Fuller flew out to left and caused a double play as the runner at third was called out in a play at the plate.
The Light Blue’s defensive success would not carry into the next inning, however, when Egly gave up a three-run homer that would secure Yale’s lead for the remainder of the game. The Lions bullpen went on to give up four more runs, once again struggling to hold up late in the game.
Despite losing the final game, this weekend reflected Columbia’s strength as an Ivy League competitor and its potential to be in the running for a conference title in May.
Ivy League play will continue next Saturday against Harvard, but first the Lions will face Manhattan College on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. at Robertson Field at Satow Stadium.