Columbia Claims Third Straight Trip To NCAAs
NEW YORK — Good news comes in threes for Columbia baseball. As in a three-run win over Dartmouth in the third game of the Ivy League Playoffs to punch its ticket to a third-straight NCAA postseason.
And who is the architect of that trifecta of success? Columbia head coach Brett Boretti.
Always quick to smile and with a machine gun laugh, it seems like nothing worries Lions head coach Brett Boretti. And why should it? His team just won the Ivy League best-of-three playoff against Dartmouth 10-7, which means their season is going to be extended into June once again, while the rest of the Ancient Eight sits at home for the offseason.
“You know it never gets old, c’mon,” he said while holding the Ivy League trophy and chuckling, of course.
“It’s great for the guys on our team,” he said. “This senior class is a special group and they’ve put in a lot of hard work and effort into this and it’s great to see that it’s paid off.“
The Lions advance to the Big Dance for just the fifth time in program history, four of which have come under coach Boretti’s leadership.
“It says a lot about our confidence and our resiliency to make it back again,” Boretti said. “And it was awesome to see different guys stepping up for us all year long, including today.”
The biggest star of the day was Joe Falcone who continued his torrid streak, slamming a pair of home runs in his first two at-bats and accounting for five runs crossing the plate. Also, eight and nine-hole hitters Will Savage and Logan Boyher combined to go 5-for-8 with two doubles, a triple, two hit batsmen and four RBIs. In all, Columbia went 14-for-35 at the plate and coaxed six walks and four hit batsmen in facing off with six different Dartmouth pitchers on the day.
On the mound, the Lions burned most of their starting pitching in Saturday’s doubleheader and went to Ty Wiest, a sophomore who was making his first start of the season. He lasted just 2.2 innings after giving up six hits, four runs (two were unearned) and walking one. Ryan Marks followed but didn’t fare much better, surrendering three hits and two runs in 1.2 innings of work.
After five innings the game had turned into a slugfest with the Lions holding a precarious 8-6 lead, mostly on the strength of Falcone’s salvos over the fence.
That’s when Boretti turned the mound duties over to Harrisen Egly, who was making his 15th appearance on the season and already had the team lead with five saves.
“Harrisen Egly is quite a story,” Boretti said. “He is a first year guy who didn’t even travel with us on our first two road trips. But he’s been awesome since. He’s a great competitor and he wants the ball when it counts.”
Egly calmed things down significantly. In his 4.2 innings he gave up just three hits and no earned runs. From that point on, the Lions could play a game of stiff-arm instead of trying to outscore the Big Green. CU took a 10-6 lead after the sixth inning and Egly was able to salt away the game from there.
“He stepped up and answered the bell for us today,” Boretti said. “I couldn’t be more proud of how he competed pitch by pitch.”
Dartmouth would add an unearned run in the eighth inning when Bo Patterson singled to start the inning and would come around to score with the help of a fielding error that could’ve been scored either way. But that was as close as the Big Green could get, three runs short.
And yes, this also marked Dartmouth’s third straight Ivy League Playoff loss in the Lions den. But on the glass-is-half-full side of things, 2015 marked the eighth straight year that the Big Green laid claim to the Rolfe Division title and made an appearance in the post-season.
“Winning eight straight Division titles is a source of pride for us,” Dartmouth head coach Bob Whelan would say afterward. “But we’re never going to concentrate on what we did not accomplish. We don’t play or train or practice for second place.”
The Big Green had their own amazing turnaround this season, starting out 1-14 on the year, which included playing some of the best teams in the country including Texas A&M and UC Santa Barbara. But the Green went on a serious winning spree, including a 14-game win streak at one point, and finished the season with 21 wins overall and went 16-4 in Ivy League play.
“We’ve always had a philosophy to play the best teams possible early on,” coach Whelan said. “We like to play in great ballparks and great venues against good teams because we know when we play really good teams it shows us what our weaknesses are right away and we can identify those and work on them. It will make us a better team at this time of year as you saw once again.”
But despite the frustration of a runner-up finish in the Ancient Eight again coach Whelan knows his boys will be back to fight another day.
“Look, it hurts to lose,” he said. “With all the work we put in it hurts to come up short like we have the last three years. But I really work with the players not to focus on what didn’t happen or what we could’ve done. We try to put the focus on what we need to do to get a little bit better.”
“I’m proud of the fact that we have won eight straight division titles and that we won 20 games against Division I teams this year, not many Northeast teams can do.”
But without sounding like a skipping record, it’s Columbia that will move forward again. Its 29-15 mark puts them 14 games above .500 for the first time in school history. Last season, in the Coral Gables Regional, the Lions lost a pair of one-run games to Texas Tech and Bethune-Cookman. This time, they hope they can actually do some damage.
Marquee hitter Joe Falcone thinks this year can be a different story.
“Last year, we went to Miami and lost by one run in both games,” Falcone said. “We think we’re ready to go somewhere and do some damage this year. We don’t want to win just once or twice either.”
Hey, good things come in threes for these guys, right?
– Bottom of the Lineup Help.
While Joe Falcone was all the rage at the top of the batting order, going 7-for-10 with eight RBI in the two wins, No. 8 and No. 9 hitters Will Savage and Logan Boyher were quietly a key part of the Lions success this weekend. Savage went 5-for-10 in the three games, including getting plunked twice today and scoring four runs in the two wins. Boyher went 6-for-12 with six RBIs.
– Spring Break Fever.
Columbia coach Brett Boretti said the tipping point to this 2015 season wasn’t the 2-and-2 split to open the campaign at then-No. 6 ranked Houston, but rather the teams’ four-game sweep at USC-Upstate from March 20th to 22nd.
“Splitting with Houston was great for our confidence, but I think we really found our identity during our spring break trip,” Boretti says. “We fought back a couple times and pulled out some wins and that really established our mindset that the guys took on the rest of the year. We just thought no matter what we’re not out of it. We might have a bad inning here and there but we knew our offense was going to make up for it.”
– Rolfe Division Tormentors.
Dartmouth so dominated the Rolfe Division on their way to the post-season that they went a perfect 12-0 against teams in their division, outscoring Yale, Brown and Harvard by a combined 79-27.
– Big Green Blues.
In those eight trips to the Ivy League Playoffs, Dartmouth is now just 2-6, advancing to the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and in 2010, when they won a series over Columbia. This marked the fifth straight year that Dartmouth has been on the road in the playoffs.
WHAT I SAW AT SATOW STADIUM
It was Baby Blue Deja Vu all over again as Columbia won the deciding game three from rival Dartmouth to claim the Ivy League title for the third straight season. CU jetted out to a quick early lead scoring eight runs in the first three innings and then kept Dartmouth at bay long enough to put the wraps on another Ivy League Playoff championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament in early June.
Dartmouth – 013 110 010 – 7 12 0
Columbia – 242 011 00x – 10 14 3
WP: Harrisen Egly, 3-1
LP: Louis Concato, 1-6
– Joe Purritano, 1-for-3, HR, 3RBI
– Nick Ruppert, 3-for-4
– Michael Ketchmark, 3-for-5, 3B, 3RBI
– Joey Falcone, 3-for-5, 2HRs, 5RBI
– Logan Boyher, 3-for-4, HR, 4RBI
– Will Savage, 2-for-3, 3 runs scored
– Dartmouth, 21-22
– Columbia, 29-15