After last weekend's four-game sweep of division rival Cornell that extended its winning streak to 13 games, Columbia will host Fordham Wednesday afternoon.
The game against Fordham (17-21, 7-8) will be the Lions' (21-15, 13-3 Ivy) final nonconference matchup of the season before they have a division-deciding home-and-home series against Penn.
With the critical matchups against the Quakers coming up, the Lions will be resting their top arms, giving first-year righty Ty Weist the start. He has appeared in 8.1 innings over seven games, striking out nine and walking 10 while allowing seven runs. Weist's only other start of this season came on March 19 against the University of Texas at Arlington when he gave up two runs and four hits in one inning of work.
Although Columbia won't be looking at one of its regular starters on the mound, Columbia head coach Brett Boretti said he is confident in the fielders backing Weist up.
“I think defensively we continue to do a really, really good job picking it and winning the free-base battle each weekend,” Boretti said. “[Senior] Mike Fischer behind the dish and [senior] Aaron Silbar at shortstop have been outstanding all year.”
Weist will be staring down a Fordham side that isn't as potent from the plate as other teams Columbia has faced this season. The Rams have batted just .247 as a team. But they still do have some dangerous hitters. Pitcher and outfielder Tim Swatek has played in every game this season and leads Fordham with a .360 average. Swatek has collected 45 hits—11 more than anyone else on the team—including three triples. He also leads the team in RBIs with 21 and walks with 19. Catcher Charles Galiano is batting .291 and has hit three of the team's seven home runs.
The Rams are coming off a three-game sweep of St. Bonaventure and are sixth in the Atlantic 10.
“Fordham's a well-coached team,” Boretti said. “[Head coach] Kevin Leighton is over there now—he was a guy who built Manhattan into a very good program, and he's rebuilding the Fordham program right now, so I know that they're going to come in and they're going to play hard.”
The Lions' top offensive contributor of late has been first-year second baseman Will Savage, who was recently named Ivy League Rookie of the Week for a program-record third time this season. Savage batted .400 over five games last week. He hit three doubles, drove in three runs, scored four times, and was 4-for-5 in stolen bases.
“Top to bottom, it's been a total team effort with everybody pitching in offensively in the lineup,” Boretti said. “I think that's why we're at where we're at right now.”
The Rams' pitching staff has an ERA of 4.97. Righty Kirk Haynes, Jr. leads the team with a 3.23 ERA after six starts. In addition to leading the team offensively, Swatek has a 3.96 ERA after nine starts and is tied with righties Brett Kennedy and Cody Johnsonfor the most strikeouts with 39. Righty Jonathan Reich leads the relievers with a 3.86 ERA after 11.2 innings of work.
First pitch against Fordham is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
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