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Vanamali Porethi for Spectator

First-year second baseman Will Savage won his third Ivy Rookie of the Week award a few days ago. He leads Columbia with a .360 batting average and 22 runs scored.

The baseball team's Ivy title defense comes down to this weekend's matchup with the Quakers.

Columbia (22-15, 13-3 Ivy) and Penn (22-14, 13-3 Ivy) enter the four-game series tied atop the Lou Gehrig Division. The Quakers opened up their conference slate with eight straight wins, taking a commanding lead. while the Lions dropped three of their first five. But since then—thanks in large part to superb starting pitching—Columbia has won 11 in a row in league play and 14 straight overall to draw even.

“We're getting great starting pitching first and foremost,” Columbia head coach Brett Boretti said after last weekend's sweep of Cornell. The Lions logged three shutouts against the Big Red, led by the efforts of the weekend rotation of seniors David Speer and Joey Donino and sophomores George Thanopoulos and Kevin Roy.

Roy, Thanopoulos, and Speer each have ERAs below 2.00 in the Ancient Eight. Speer—the Lions' ace—has walked only two batters all season, both in nonconference play.

But Penn has some capable arms of its own. Three of the Quakers' weekend starters—Connor Cuff, Ronnie Glenn, and Jake Cousins—also boast Ivy ERAs under 2.00. Cuff's 1.16 ERA overall is the league's best mark.

Penn's offense is dangerous as well. Outfielder Rick Brebner leads the Ancient Eight with eight home runs, and the Quakers are hitting a league-best .280 as a team.

Columbia, which had trouble putting runs on the board early in the season, has also hit its stride. The Lions have scored at least seven runs in three of their last four games. First-year second baseman Will Savage has been a big part of Columbia's success, becoming the first player in program history to be named Ivy League Rookie of the Week three times in a single season.

The two teams will play a doubleheader in Philadelphia Friday and another at Robertson Field at Satow Stadium Saturday. Friday's games begin at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., while Saturday's games are scheduled for 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. | @elischultz28

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