This weekend, Columbia men’s baseball took on another Ivy League rival at home, the Princeton Tigers.
The Columbia men’s baseball team hosted the Princeton Tigers at Robertson Field this weekend, beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday. The Lions entered the weekend 7–13 after losing last weekend’s series against UPenn and dropping a game at St John’s, while Princeton sat with a record of 2–16, nursing a four-game losing streak. Columbia swept Saturday’s doubleheader, rallying late from a three-run deficit to win game one 7–6 and then erupting offensively in a 16–1 victory in game two (Columbia’s highest-scoring game in four years).
In game one, Princeton scored early against the Lions’s starting pitcher, Sean Higgins, scoring three runs in the first two innings. The Lions struck back in the bottom of the second thanks to a single and stolen base by Joshua Solomon and an RBI single by EJ Kreutzmann, but Columbia’s offense largely struggled to make contact against Tigers starter Jackson Emus for much of the game. Higgins ultimately pitched five innings and allowed four runs, recording eight strikeouts. Entering the seventh inning, the Lions had only managed the one run against Emus, but in that inning they scored two more times off him, with a walk, hit-by-pitch, and two singles to bring the score to 4–3.
Saajan May entered in relief of Higgins in the sixth inning, and struck out three across his three innings of work. He pitched a clean sixth and seventh, but surrendered a two-run homer in the eighth, extending the Tigers’ lead to 6–3. Looking to do some damage against Princeton’s bullpen in the eighth, Columbia responded with a walk by Weston Eberly and a double by Anton Lazits. With one out and two men on base, Skye Selinsky came to the plate for Columbia, having found himself in a very similar position in recent days—last weekend, Selinsky had also found himself coming to the plate with two men on in the eighth inning. In that situation, Selinsky had hit a three-run homer to continue the Lions’s rally against UPenn; this time around, the results were exactly the same, as Selinsky drilled yet another three-run homer, dramatically tying the game at 6–6.
Griffin Palfrey entered to pitch the ninth inning for the Lions, and the top of the ninth ended with an emphatic strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play by Palfrey and the catcher Eberly. Unfortunately, the Lions failed to score in the bottom of the ninth, sending the game to extras. Palfrey pitched another clean inning (ending with four strikeouts across his two innings), and in the bottom of the tenth, after the Lions fell victim to two quick outs, Jack Cooper hit a fly ball to right field that Princeton’s outfielders lost in the sun, allowing him to reach second base. Cole Hage then hit a line drive to center field to score Cooper and walk it off for the Lions, 7–6.
Compared to the first game’s tense theatrics, the second game was much less climactic. However, the results were extremely favorable for the Lions, whose offense exploded for a 16–1 victory. The scoring surge began in the second inning against Princeton’s starter Tom Chmielewksi, as Hage and Hayden Schott each delivered RBI hits before Andy Blake sent a ball into the Harlem River for a two-run homer. In the fourth, the Lions broke the game open with four more runs, punctuated by a booming double by Hage to the centerfield wall, and an exciting double steal executed by Blake and Tyler MacGregor. Hage later added a three-run homer to his big day, ending with three hits, six RBI, and a walk in the game, in addition to his walkoff hit in game one. The Lions’s offense as a whole totaled a staggering 20 hits in the game (including ten doubles, a school record) to go along with eight walks and five stolen bases.
As for the pitching in game two, Andy Leon started for Columbia and pitched four shutout innings, striking out three Tigers and allowing three hits. Derek Yoo entered in the fifth, and though he surrendered a home run to the first Tiger he faced (accounting for all of Princeton’s scoring in the game), he also pitched four innings, with three strikeouts and two walks. Justin Tucker pitched the final three outs to seal Columbia’s blowout win of their Ivy League rival.
Men’s baseball now sits at 9–13 overall, and have risen to 3–2 in Ivy play. They will visit Monmouth for a 3:30 pm game on Wednesday before heading to Rhode Island to face Brown for a weekend series, including another Saturday doubleheader starting at 11:30 am and a Sunday game at noon.
Photo of a sunny day by Simon Panfilio