Offense the Name of the Game as Cornell, Columbia Split Doubleheader
With the Big Red entering the weekend 2-4 in conference play and in last place in the Lou Gehrig Division, the team was in need a strong showing this weekend, likely either 3 or 4 wins, in order to stay in contention.
Game 1: CORNELL 9, COLUMBIA 3
ITHACA, N.Y. — The 4-game set with Columbia couldn’t have started better, as an atypical offensive outburst and a strong start by junior Paul Balestrieri propelled the Big Red to a 9-3 win.
Both of the game’s starting pitchers, Balestrieri and Columbia’s George Thanopoulos, struggled get outs early on, but while Balestrieri was able to settle down and make it through a solid six innings, Thanopoulos was never able to find his groove, giving up six runs in only 5⅓ innings of work.
Columbia second baseman and leadoff hitter Will Savage had himself an impressive start, with two stolen bases and two runs scored in the first three innings. However, from there on out the scoring was done almost entirely by the Big Red. In the bottom of the third, center fielder Dale Wickham tripled to deep left center, driving in two, and DH Mark Fraser followed that up with a double to center, scoring Wickham and putting Cornell ahead 4-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, first baseman Cole Rutherford drove a Thanopoulos pitch over the left field wall to extend the lead to 5-2, and after an RBI ground out for Columbia catcher Lane Robinette in the top of the sixth, Cornell exploded for four runs in the bottom of that inning to put the game away for good.
A one out walk to Eliot Lowell in the bottom of the sixth prompted Columbia coach Brett Boretti to bring in right-hander Bryce Barr, and soon thereafter the wheels fell off for the Lions. Leadoff man Frankie Padulo doubled to left center, bringing in two, and a pair of bases loaded singles from Rutherford and Wickham brought in two more, bringing the score to 9-3.
First-year pitcher Rob Pannullo came in for the seventh inning and in just his second career outing was able to close out the game, allowing only one base runner on an error by third baseman C.J. Price.
Game 2: COLUMBIA 14, CORNELL 4
In the second game of the Saturday double header, offense once again played a large role, but this time the Big Red found themselves on the wrong side of the scoring outburst. Junior starter Tim Willittes was hit hard, lasting only 1⅔ innings while giving up 6 runs (all earned), on 6 hits and a walk, and his replacement, Jamie Smith, didn’t fair much better against a potent Columbia lineup, giving up four runs in an inning of work. Pierre Le Dorze, Scott Soltis, Jamie Flynn, Austin Arnold, and Ryne Veenema combined to hold the Lions to just four runs for the remainder of the game.
The game started strong for Cornell, but by the fourth inning, Columbia had built a 10-3 lead, and by that point the story had already been written. The Lions rode an efficient start from senior righty Adam Cline (7⅔ IP, 4 R, 4 ER, 11 H, 2 BB, 2 K), and second baseman Will Savage continued his onslaught on Cornell pitching, going 3 for 5 with 2 RBI, 4 runs scored, a double, and his first home run of the year. The Lions were also led by shortstop Randell Kanemaru (2-5, 2 doubles, 2 runs, 4 RBI) and first baseman Nick Maguire (3-5, double, 2 RBI). In fact, every Columbia starter reached base at least once during the game.
Cornell’s offense began by building on its success earlier in the day, scoring three in the first two innings. Cole Rutherford was once again a an offensive catalyst, driving in a run in the first, and the Big Red tacked on two more in the second: one on an Eliot Lowell double into left field, and the other on a squeeze bunt from Jordan Winawer. Ellis Bitar also had an RBI double in the fifth, but that was it for the Big Red in terms of scoring, and ultimately they were unable to climb out of the early 6-1 hole they found themselves in.
Cornell and Columbia will continue the series tomorrow with two more important games – a 7-inning game followed by a 9-inning game – starting at 12:00 at Hoy Field in Ithaca.