DAVIDSON, N.C. — Thanks to a pair of home runs from Andy Blake and solid pitching in both games, Columbia Baseball (3-3, 0-0 IVY) swept Saturday’s doubleheader at Davidson (8-3, 0-0 A10) to get back to its winning ways and set up a shot at the series win on Sunday.
Blake went 3-5 with five RBIs and two home runs over both games, while Justin Tucker (1-0) and Andy Leon (1-0) each got the wins in the solid performance put together by the Lions at Wilson Field.
“Our pitching and defense today gave us a chance to be successful,” said head coach Brett Boretti. “Both Joe Sheets and Andy Leon gave us quality starts and we got great bullpen performances from Justin Tucker and JD Ogden. Guys played hard and fought all day, it was a great team effort offensively.”
The Lions did not commit an error over both games, and except for one inning in the first game, kept the Wildcats from putting up any crooked numbers throughout the day and it gave them a pair of wins to put themselves in position to take three out of four over the weekend.
HOW IT HAPPENED (GAME 1): The Lions came out of the gate roaring, and it all got started by Blake who, after Austin Mowrey led off the game by being hit by a pitch, hit a two-run slam into right field to quickly give Columbia a 2-0 lead. But the inning would continue, and in the next at-bat Tyler MacGregor smacked a single to left field.
A throwing error coupled with a Hayden Schott single down the third base line, eventually brought MacGregor around to score giving the Lions a 3-0 lead after an inning of play. Columbia did not waste time adding to their lead, with Weston Eberly leading off the second inning with a single to center field, picking up right where the Lions finished the opening inning.
Eberly advanced around the bags thanks to Jacob Phelps being hit by a pitch and Mowrey laying down a sacrifice bunt. Blake then came to the plate, and his hot bat continued on the second pitch of the at-bat, singling to center to score both Eberly and Phelps and giving him four RBIs in the first two innings and the Lions a 5-0 lead.
With the lead in their back pocket, the Columbia staff went to work, starting with Sheets, who opened the game and went four innings, giving up one run and six hits while only walking one. Davidson got on the board with a run in the fourth and fifth innings, putting the score at 5-2 heading into the sixth inning.
There the Wildcats got back into the game, scoring four runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game at 6-6. Columbia would not back down and with a run scored in the top of the sixth, from a lead off Joshua Solomon double and a Eberly RBI single, the Lions were set up to finish things in the seventh.
And finish they did, Blake led the inning off with a walk and advanced to third on a MacGregor single to right. Schott then did the job, grounding out to second base, allowing Blake to scramble home to put the Lions in front, 7-6.
At this point Tucker, who had replaced Will Parkinson in the sixth inning, completed the Columbia victory with scoreless one-two-three bottom of the seventh, producing the final three outs the Lions needed to win the first game of the doubleheader, 7-6.
— Columbia Baseball (@CULionsBaseball) March 5, 2022
HOW IT HAPPENED (GAME TWO): Leon got the start in the second game of the day, going 4.1 IP with 5 H 2 ER 6 K, quickly working through giving up a run in the first inning to not give up another run until the fifth. Columbia would not give Leon much run support over the first three innings, but in the fourth Blake again made some noise.
Jumping the first pitch of the fourth, Blake smashed a bomb to right center to put the Lions on the board and knot up the score at 1-1. Anton Lazits led off the fifth with a double to left and advanced to third on a throwing error by the pitcher.
Wasting no time, Griffin Palfrey smacked a single to right center to plate Lazits and within two at-bats the Lions had taken the lead. Davidson changed out pitchers, but Columbia kept adding to its lead, thanks to a Miles Blackwell RBI single to left, scoring Palfrey.
The two runs in the fifth pushed Columbia in front, and with two innings to play led 3-1. A pair of insurance runs came from the bat of Solomon, who scored Schott (double to left) on a two-run blast to left, padding Columbia’s lead to 5-2 heading into the final two innings.
Having come into the game in relief of Leon in the fifth, Ogden was dealing and earned the save in his 2.2 innings of scoreless work. Ogden worked through base runners in the sixth and came out in the seventh ready to lock down the sweep. He sat the Wildcats down in order to end the game in dominating fashion, giving Columbia the sweep on the day and a 5-2 second game win.
— Columbia Baseball (@CULionsBaseball) March 6, 2022
GAME NOTES: The Lions did not commit an error over both games, it’s the second and third time this season they have not committed an error in a game … Schott had a hit in both games, extending his season opening hitting streak to six games … Blake extended his hit streak to four games thanks to his offensive output over both games … Solomon’s hit streak extends to three games … Palfrey’s hit streak now sits at two … Blake’s four RBIs in the first game ties Columbia’s individual season high … On the mound it was a day of firsts, with Leon getting his first start and win, Tucker getting his first start and win and Ogden notching the first save of his career.
UP NEXT: Columbia looks to take the series with a 1 p.m. game to wrap up the weekend at Davidson on Sunday, Mar. 6.
FOLLOWING THE LIONS: Stay up to date on all things Columbia Baseball by following the Lions on Twitter (@CULionsBaseball), Instagram (@culionsbaseball) and on Facebook (@ColumbiaAthletics).