High five the baseball team next time you see them–they’re Ivy League Champs! Sports fan Luca Marzorati tells the triumphant tale…
For the first time in six years, the Columbia baseball team earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament, as the Lions won back-to-back games against Dartmouth on Saturday for an 11th Ivy League Championship. After a 6-5 extra-inning victory in Game 1, Columbia’s offense came alive late in Game 2, battering the Big Green bullpen for 8 late runs to take a 12–5 win and extinguish the need for a Sunday rubber match.
The Lions have now won 24 of their last 32 games, and are a record-best 18–4 against Ivy League opponents. Though the team has certainly played its best baseball over the last month, this championship may stem from Columbia’s formative early-season struggles just as much as their recent hot streak.
Just six weeks ago, the Lions found themselves at 2–11, losers of four straight, after a furious late-inning comeback by the University of Miami, a program with four NCAA baseball championships. Columbia’s season-opening road trips may have helped the team’s frequent-flyer account, but did little in the way of wins. Lamar, Arizona, and Miami—3 of Columbia’s first 4 opponents—all are currently in the top 50 in college baseball, and won 7 of 8 games against the Light Blue.
Of course, degree of difficulty is meaningless in baseball, but starting the season with such ruthless competition surely helped the club when it came time to play easier contests in the Ivy League. It is worthy to note that Dartmouth, which finishes the season with a 32–9 record, opted for a cupcake schedule before league play began. Though the Big Green won 12 of their first 13, routs of Division II Slippery Rock or Division III Vassar seem trivial when compared to the Lions’ travails.