In its first game of the NCAA Tournament, the Light Blue baseball team fell, 3-2, to No. 23 Texas Tech.
The Lions (29-19) and the Red Raiders (41-18) were tied 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth, when Texas Tech first baseman Eric Gutierrez came through with a walk-off RBI single.
With runners on first and second in the final frame, Texas Tech’s best hitter—Gutierrez—came up to bat. He did not disappoint, lacing a pitch deep in the left center gap. Pinch runner Zach Davis easily scored from second to win the game for the Red Raiders.
Without senior ace David Speer—who had an emergency appendectomy Monday—sophomore righty George Thanopolous started the game for the Light Blue. He pitched four shoutout innings and allowed three hits and four walks.
Columbia put some pressure on Texas Tech in the first three innings, but could not get a runner past second base. In the fourth inning, the Lions loaded the bases with one out. Sophomore first baseman Nick Maguire stepped to the plate and hit a hard grounder to the shortstop. The Red Raiders were able to get the force out at second, but could not double-up Maguire at first, which scored senior shortstop Aaron Silbar from third and gave the Lions a 1-0 lead.
In the fifth, sophomore righty Adam Cline relieved Thanopoulos. Though he gave up a leadoff double, he looked poised to get himself out of the jam after retiring the next two batters. But designated hitter Adam Kirsch hit one over the left field wall for a two run homer that put Texas Tech up, 2-1.
In the sixth, junior left fielder Rob Paller started the inning by hitting a single to up the middle. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Silbar, and then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Then, with two outs, sophomore designated hitter John Kinne drove Paller home with an infield RBI single and leveled the score, 2-2.
The game remained scoreless until the ninth, when sophomore lefty Thomas Crispi gave up the game winner.
Paller led the Lions with three hits, and lefty Jonny Drozd—who came on in relief of starter Chris Sadberry—earned the win, his seventh of the season.
On Saturday at 2 p.m., the Lions will face the loser of the game between Miami and Bethune-Cookman.