For the second straight year, the baseball team will take on Dartmouth in the Ivy League Championship Series.
The best-two-of-three series was pushed back a week after both the Lou Gehrig and Red Rolfe divisions finished deadlocked, forcing a pair of one-game playoffs. Columbia (25-17, 15-5 Ivy) topped Penn (24-17, 15-5 Ivy) last Saturday, 4-0, to secure its spot, while the Big Green (18-19, 11-9 Ivy) punched its ticket to the championships by taking down Yale (19-22, 11-9 Ivy) on Sunday, 11-4.
Though they fell behind the Quakers early on this season, the Lions are playing for their second straight Ivy title thanks to strong pitching and improved production at the dish. Columbia pitched well all year—the Lions gave up more than four runs only once in Ivy play—but struggled offensively in the first part of its Ivy slate. The Light Blue bats have heated up since, and are now giving the pitching staff plenty of support.
“We have guys up and down the lineup who are doing quality things with the stick, making things difficult for pitchers,” Columbia head coach Brett Boretti said. “We're doing a good job with two strikes, and going to do our best to continue doing what we've been doing.”
A 15-game winning streak, during which Columbia scored at least five runs in 12 of its games, propelled the Light Blue to the top of its division despite a 3-3 start in league play.
The Big Green had an even less auspicious beginning to its conference schedule, opening with a 2-6 record. But Dartmouth finished strong to catch up with Yale, and took down the Bulldogs in the one-game playoff to advance to the championship series for the seventh straight year as the Red Rolfe Division representative.
“Their veterans on that team have been there and been division champions numerous years,” Boretti said. “We've seen them, we know their players pretty well—we thought that they would be there standing at the end. So we're not surprised by it by any means.”
Senior lefty David Speer will start the opener for the Lions. Columbia's ace has been phenomenal lately. He logged back-to-back shutouts against Penn and has not given up a run in 23 innings.
“He mixes, he's got command, and he's on the attack,” Boretti said after the Lions' playoff win. “He just continued to work it, and pitch it—he just did awesome.”
Sophomore righty Kevin Roy will get the nod in game 2. After earning an All-Ivy Honorable Mention as a first-year reliever, Roy made a smooth transition into the Lions' weekend rotation. He went 4-4 on the year with a 3.55 ERA, holding opponents to a .156 batting average in league play.
Boretti said the Lions have not yet determined who will start Sunday if a third game is necessary.
Game 1 on Saturday will start at 12 p.m. at Robertson Field at Satow Stadium, followed by game 2 at 3 p.m. If necessary, game 3 will be Sunday at 1 p.m. Tickets are $2 with CUID.
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