This afternoon the Lions will take a break from Ivy League competition to play a doubleheader against nearby rival Manhattan College.
The Jaspers are 18-13 this season, 7-5 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Most recently, Manhattan took on division foe Fairfield in three games. The Jaspers suffered a tough 7-6 loss in the first game but recovered well to win the next two 6-5 and 9-2.
At the plate this season, the Jaspers have been led by junior Chad Salem with a .423 batting average. Salem also leads the team with 11 homeruns and 49 RBI.
From the mound, it has been Tom Costigan who has represented Manhattan well. With an ERA of 5.03 and a 4-2 record, Costigan leads the starting rotation after 48.1 innings pitched.
Columbia’s own pitching, however, has seen significant improvement this past month from the starting rotation of Pat Lowery, Dan Bracey, Stefan Olson, and Tim Giel.
Lowery leads the group with an ERA of 4.25, and Bracey has pitched similarly well, recording an ERA of 4.53. The starters are 3-2 and 3-3 on the season, respectively.
The Lions have seen more than solid pitching these past few weeks, as the starting four have gotten continued support from the batter’s box.
Senior Dean Forthun and sophomore Jon Eisen sit atop the rankings with batting averages of .365 and .364 respectively in the 32 games that they have each played.
Furthermore, outfielder Nick Ferraresi leads the team with 30 RBI, while designated hitter Alexander Aurrichio has contributed 28 of his own.
The power the Lions have seen behind the plate and the accuracy from the mound have carried Columbia to a record of 11-3 in April, significantly improved from March’s record of 7-11.
The major difference between the two months has been the commencement of conference play. For the first month of the season, the Lions only faced non-Ivy League opponents, while April has seen the Light Blue face almost exclusively teams in the Ancient Eight.
Tomorrow it will be interesting to see whether the tendency to drop games to nonconference foes will prevail over April’s winning streak against Manhattan.
Last year when the two city foes faced off, it was the Jaspers who came out on top. Manhattan won both games in the doubleheader, the first 4-1 and the second 8-4.
When asked about the Jaspers, head coach Brett Boretti said “they are a very competitive team and they hit very well” but that the Lions “are preparing the same was as [they] always do – practicing hard and paying attention to detail.”
Tomorrow the Light Blue will focus on “just playing solid defense, throwing strikes and competing in [its] at bats,” Boretti said.
The Lions won’t have long to focus on the twinbill against Manhattan, as they will have just two days’ rest from competition before they continue conference play against Cornell this weekend in Ithaca.
This afternoon’s doubleheader will begin at 2 p.m. in Riverdale, N.Y., with the second game scheduled to commence at 4:30 p.m.