While Penn still sits atop the Lou Gehrig Division with an 11-1 conference record, the Columbia baseball team did all it could this weekend to keep pace.
The Lions (16-15, 9-3 Ivy) took all four games from Princeton (9-19, 4-6 Ivy) on Saturday and Sunday—their first weekend sweep of the season—to move into second place in their division. Columbia’s pitching was solid, as it has been all year. But the Light Blue bats also got going against the Tigers, as the Lions scored at least eight runs in each of the last three games.
“We’re getting contributions up and down the lineup, which is great,” Columbia head coach Brett Boretti said. “The weather’s warming up a little bit, and the ball’s carrying, and guys are taking advantage of it.”
Senior catcher Mike Fischer agreed, saying that the depth of the Lions’ order has improved from years past.
Fischer was one of four Lions to homer in the second game, and added an inside-the-park round-tripper—the first of his life, according to the Columbia backstop—in game 1 on Sunday.
“I wasn’t ready for it,” a smiling Fischer said of Boretti’s decision to wave him home on the play. “I got around the bag, and I tried my best to get home. I guess I beat the throw.”
Fischer’s inside-the-park shot was one of the crowning highlights of a Light Blue offensive outpouring this weekend.
Thanks to a two-out, walk-off double by sophomore outfielder Robb Paller, Columbia gave senior lefty David Speer just enough run support for a 3-2 win in the series opener, after which the Light Blue offense clicked in game 2.
Fischer, Paller, junior third baseman David Vandercook, and junior outfielder Gus Craig each went deep in support of sophomore starter George Thanopoulos.
The righty gave up just two runs in six innings, striking out nine and improving to 4-0 on the season.
Sophomore righty Adam Cline added three scoreless innings of relief to earn the save and give the Lions an 8-2 win.
Columbia’s bats picked up a shaky Joey Donino in the first game on Sunday, giving the Lions a 9-6 win despite the fact that the senior righty gave up three runs in just two innings of work.
The finale was a blowout from cover to cover. Columbia had a 12-0 lead by the time Princeton scored its first pair of runs in the top of the seventh on a home run by catcher Tyler Servais, and cruised to a 13-3 win behind opportunistic, aggressive offense.
“We want to get the running game going,” Boretti said. “We were doing a good job with that, as far as making them make plays, and forcing the issue a little bit.”
The Lions also benefited from a very strong start from sophomore righty Kevin Roy, who gave up just two runs in seven innings.
“Fastball location—one of the best outings for that. Changeup was really good, I thought that was a pitch I could always go to if I got in a hole or guys were starting to get on the fastball,” Roy said. “Slider was there too. Really, all three of those pitches were really effective for me, and helped me get batters out pretty quickly.”
Roy added that pitching with an early lead made Sunday’s outing against the Tigers more enjoyable.
“Those guys have done a really good job hitting this year,” Roy said. “It’s just a blast going out there and throwing when you’ve got guys like that hitting behind you.”
After outscoring Princeton 33-13 over the weekend, Columbia will take on St. John’s on Wednesday in Queens before traveling to Ithaca, N.Y., for a weekend series with Cornell.