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Bulldogs Drop Two Nail-Biters at Columbia

Andy Megee (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Andy Megee (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW YORK – Junior third baseman Andy Megee drove in six runs- including his sixth home run of the season- but the Yale baseball team fell in both ends of an Ivy League doubleheader at Gehrig Division foe Columbia on Saturday. The Lions won game one, 5-3 in extra innings, and claimed the nightcap by a 5-4 margin.

With the losses, Yale starts the Ivy League season at 0-2 and drops to 11-8-1 overall. The Lions improve to 10-11 on the season with a 2-0 mark in league play.

“Columbia was simply better today,” said John Stuper, Yale’s Mazzuto Family Head Coach for Baseball. “They executed better than we did, and they deserved to win both games. We need to regroup and play better tomorrow; I know we will.”

Junior left-handers Brook Hart and Vinny Lally started on the hill for Yale and each suffered their first loss of the season. Hart pitched a complete game in the opening, seven-inning affair, while Lally went seven innings in game two, which was scheduled for a full nine frames.

Megee was 4-for-8 in the twinbill with six RBI, including all four in the nightcap. Junior second baseman Gant Elmore had three hits out of the leadoff spot, and sophomore Charlie Neil had an RBI double in game one.

In game one, Nick Cox started the scoring for Columbia with a two-run home run to straight-away centerfield, as the Lions claimed a 2-0 lead after the first frame. The home team added another run by way of the long ball courtesy of a solo shot by Alex Ferrera to lead off the bottom of the second inning.

Yale cut into the Lions’ lead in the top of the third inning, as Matt Schmidt was hit by a pitch followed by an Elmore single to set the table for Megee. The Bulldogs’ third baseman delivered on the RBI chance with a double down the left field line that plated both runners and ran the score to 3-2 in favor of Columbia.

Hart and Lowery both settled in at that point, as the two starters traded zeroes until the seventh and final frame. Brenner drew a walk to lead off the top of the inning, and Neil followed with a pinch-hit double that brought the Yale catcher all the way around the score the tying run. Geoff Whitaker came on to replace Lowery at that point and retired the side to keep the game at a 3-3 deadlock entering the bottom of the seventh.

Hart set down the Lions in order in the bottom of the inning, and Whitaker followed suit in the top of the eighth frame. Yale’s rookie southpaw came back out for the eighth inning, and struck out catcher Dean Forthun to start the frame. After Cox poked a single to centerfield that was nearly grabbed by a diving Stephen Miehls, Alexander Aurrichio ended the contest for Columbia with a two-run home run to right centerfield to bring the score to a 5-3 final.

Hart (2-1) pitched a complete game for the Bulldogs, allowing nine hits and five earned runs in 7.1 innings. He struck out seven and walked just one while throwing a career-high 117 pitches. Lowery surrendered three earned runs on five hits over the first 6+ frames for Columbia. Whitaker (2-2) retired all six batters he faced to earn the win in relief.

The Lions got on the board in the nine-inning nightcap as well, as a Yale fielding error extended the bottom of the first inning and allowed Nick Ferraresi to drive in the game’s first run with a groundout. Columbia added another unearned run in the second frame courtesy of a squeeze bunt by Jon Eisen to take a 2-0 lead.

The Yale offense broke through in the top of the third inning, as Neil led off the frame with a walk. Elmore singled two batters later, and Megee followed with a three-run home run to left field- his sixth roundtripper of the season- to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the day at 3-2.

Columbia struck again in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Eisen led off with a triple. Two batters later, Cox singled him home to knot the score at 3-3.

The stalemate was short-lived, however, as Schmidt roped a double over the centerfielder’s head to put himself in scoring position with one out in the next half-inning. Megee once again delivered for the Bulldogs, lining a two-bagger of his own to plate Schmidt for his fourth RBI of the game and giving Yale a 4-3 lead.

Lally and the Yale fielders minimized the damage of a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the inning, but did not escape completely unscathed. A hot-shot to third base turned into a double play, as Megee picked the ball cleanly, stepped on the bag and fired to first to complete the twin killing. The tying run came home on the play, however, to knot the game once again at 4-4.

After both sides went down in the sixth inning, the Lions jumped back on top in the bottom of the seventh frame. Alex Godshall notched the go-ahead RBI in the inning with a sacrifice fly to centerfield.

After Derek Squires pitched a scoreless eighth inning, senior right-hander Robert Gruber came out of Yale bullpen and set the Lions down harmlessly in the bottom of the frame. The Bulldogs were unable to get to Squires in the ninth, however, as the senior left-hander closed out the 5-4 win.

Lally (4-1) threw 141 pitches in seven innings of work, scattering nine hits and three earned runs. He struck out eight batters and walked six. Tim Giel (1-0) allowed five hits and four earned runs to notch the win. He struck out seven and walked two in his seven innings of action. Squires recorded his second save of the season.

The Bulldogs will look to bounce back tomorrow, as Ivy League play continues with a noon doubleheader at Penn. The twinbill is Yale’s final road trip prior to an eight-game homestand beginning on April 6 against Sacred Heart.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity