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KJ Mulam / Staff Photographer

Junior shortstop Joe Engel delivered the game-winning RBI on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 15th inning to give Columbia a 2-1 victory over Yale and its fourth Ivy League title in six seasons.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifteenth inning, and after numerous opportunities to secure a victory, junior shortstop Joe Engel stepped up to the plate. If he could get the ball out of the infield, the Lions would have an excellent shot at their fourth Ivy title in six seasons.

Engel stared down Yale pitcher Alex Stiegler looking for a pitch to hit, and found one.

Engel made just enough contact on Stiegler’s offering and lofted a fly ball to Yale’s center fielder Teddy Hague. Junior outfielder Ben Porter raced back to the bag at third, and sprinted toward home. Hague’s throw barely reached the infield, Porter crossed the plate, and the Lions walked off with a 2-1 victory in 15 innings.

“It was a great ballgame,” head coach Brett Boretti said. “It was probably one of the best ones that I’ve ever been a part of. And I want to tip my hat to Yale, they played awesome. It was a credit to the league how the game was played, and it was a great Championship game.”

With the win in Game 2, baseball secured a sweep of Yale to win the 2018 Ivy League Championship Series. This marked the Lions’ fifth ILCS victory since 2008 and fourteenth Ancient Eight crown overall.

After the Lions secured a 4-0 Game 1 victory, the second game quickly evolved into a sprawling, four-hour, fifteen-inning affair that saw Columbia and Yale remain tied at 1 apiece from the second inning through the bottom of the fifteenth.

With Columbia playing as the home team, pitching ruled the day. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Jordan Chriss got off to a rocky start, giving up two hits and one run in the top of the first. He quickly settled down, however, and proceeded to pitch six innings of scoreless ball while firing off five strikeouts.

On the offensive end, the Light Blue were only able to score one run off of Yale starting pitcher Eric Brodkowitz. It came in the bottom of the second when senior catcher Lane Robinette hit a solo home run to left-center field—just his second of the season.

From that point on, the two teams were locked in a dead heat. Once Chriss wrapped up the seventh inning, Columbia inserted right-handed pitcher Ty Wiest—who had just pitched two perfect innings the day before. Wiest hardly looked fatigued, though, as he managed six more scoreless innings, taking the Lions through the thirteenth, while allowing only one hit and one walk and adding four more strikeouts.

Wiest’s remarkable performance kept the Lions in it as Yale’s Benny Wagner pitched just as well, delivering five scoreless innings after Brodkowitz departed.

The Lions, who had numerous opportunities to end the game, had perhaps their best opportunity to do so in the bottom of the twelfth inning.

Sophomore outfielder Julian Bury singled to left field, and shortly thereafter advanced to second on a Robinette bunt. First-year infielder Jack Chernow went up to bat, and managed a single that put Bury in prime scoring position on third. Chernow then promptly stole second base, and Wagner walked junior outfielder Ben Porter.

This left the bases loaded for the Light Blue with only one out on the board. Unfortunately senior infielder Randell Kanemaru—the reigning Ivy League player of the year—flew out to center, and sophomore catcher Liam McGill struck out looking on a borderline 3-2 breaking ball, and the game persisted.

After that opportunity, the two teams exchanged scoreless innings. After Wiest departed, the Lions sent out sophomore left-handed pitcher Leo Pollack, who got out of a jam with a timely double play after Stiegler—who was also pitching—lined into a double play.

As the Lions escaped the jam, Stiegler started off the bottom of the 15th by giving up a quick double to Porter. He then intentionally walked Kanemaru. Sophomore infielder AJ DiFillipo came up to bat and executed a sacrifice bunt, allowing Porter and Kanemaru to advance to 3rd and 2nd, respectively.

With runners on second and third with one out, Stiegler once again intentionally walked an intimidating Columbia batter: this time it was junior first baseman Chandler Bengston. This left the bases loaded for Engel, whose sacrifice fly secured the 2-1 victory for Columbia.

The feat represents Columbia’s first Ivy League Championship Series appearance and victory since the team won it over Dartmouth in 2015. This also marks head coach Brett Boretti’s fifth ILCS win during his tenure, and the team’s fourth Ivy League title in six seasons.

“They’re playing loose and they’re having fun,” Boretti said of his team’s demeanor. “A lot of credit goes to our seniors, and just the attitude they displayed. Those guys had been there as freshman, and during the regular season they led the way.”

The team will next nead to the NCAA College World Series, where its seeding and regional will be determined on Monday, as the NCAA Tournament Selection Show will take place at 12 p.m.

ethan.delehman@columbiaspectator.com | @CUSpecSports

Baseball Columbia Lions Ivy League ILCS
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