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May 9, 2014

Deja Vu: Baseball Championship Series Features Rematch Between Dartmouth, Columbia

Championship Central

Portions courtesy of Columbia Sports Information/Media Relations and Dartmouth Athletics Communications

NEW YORK -- Rematch! Dartmouth and Columbia will square off in the 2014 Ivy League Championship Series, which will begin with a double-header on Saturday at noon at Robertson Field at Satow Stadium in New York. The series will be streamed on The Ivy League® Digital Network.

It marks the second-straight year the Lions and Big Green will face each other in the postseason event. But the way they got there was an Ivy first.

For the first time in League history, both divisions ended with two teams tied for first-place, setting up not one but two playoffs to determine which squads would advance to the Championship Series.

Columbia and Penn entered the final weekend of play tied for first in the Gehrig Division, with a four-game set to close out the regular season. They split the four contests, meaning they needed one more the following week. The Lions clinched their second-straight Championship Series berth with a 4-0 win that saw senior David Speer go the distance for the complete game shutout.

Dartmouth came into the final weekend two games back of Yale. But thanks to the Bulldogs' four-game split with Brown, the Big Green found itself in a position to tie if it won all four against Harvard. Dartmouth did just that, and then defeated Yale in the one-game playoff, 11-4, exploding for seven runs in the third inning to clinch its seventh-straight Division crown. It's the longest such streak Rolfe Division history and the second-longest run all-time in Ivy history, trailing Princeton's nine-straight Gehrig titles from 1996-2004.

The Lions are making their fourth overall appearance in the Championship Series and their first in consecutive seasons. Freshman Will Savage leads the League in batting average (.354) and is tied for the League-lead in on-base percentage (.403), while senior Jordan Serena has an Ivy-best 37 runs and 21 stolen bases. Sophomore Rob Paller is batting .302; his 48 hits is tied for the League-high.

On the mound, Speer is 6-2 with six complete games, four shutouts and a 2.00 ERA. He has struck out 62 batters, second-best in the League. Sophomore Kevin Roy has limited opposing batters to just .201 at the plate and fellow classmate George Thanopoulos is 5-1 on the year with a 2.91 ERA.

The Big Green have been led offensively by junior Thomas Roulis and senior Jeff Keller. Roulis has hit .309 at the plate (43-for-139) with 18 runs, five doubles, three triples, one home run and 23 RBI. Keller recently became Dartmouth's all-time leader in doubles with 53, three shy of the Ivy League record. On the year, he is batting .304 (41-for-27) with a League-high 15 doubles as well as 17 RBI.

Sophomore Duncan Robinson has made 14 appearances for the Big Green, with just two starts, but he has been their best pitcher, going 6-2 with a 3.46 ERA and 29 strikeouts. Michael Concato has not pitched like the freshman he is, with a 2-2 record, including two complete game shutouts.

WHEN LAST WE MET
Dartmouth 3, Columbia 2 (10 inn.)
Big Green senior Jeff Keller doubled home junior Matt Parisi from first base with two outs in the 10th inning to lift Dartmouth to a 3-2 victory in the first game of an Ivy League doubleheader against visiting Columbia on Saturday afternoon at Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park.

Columbia reliever Adam Cline (0-3) was in his fourth inning of work with the score tied at two in the 10th and seemed to be in control as he struck out the first two hitters. But Parisi walked and Keller followed by working the count full. With Parisi running on the pitch, Keller lined Cline's offering into the left-center gap. Parisi never hesitated and easily slid across the plate well ahead of the throw to end the Big Green's three-game skid.

Sophomore Beau Sulser dominated the Lion lineup, striking out a career-high 11 batters. In the seventh, however, Columbia catcher Mike Fischer singled and David Vandercook reached on a two-base error, giving the Lions their first base runner to reach third all game.

Will Savage then lined a shot to right field where Keller made a spectacular diving catch, which allowed just one run to score on the sacrifice fly. Sophomore Duncan Robinson came out of the bullpen to get the final out, but Jordan Serena foiled the move by lining an RBI double to right-center to tie the game at two.

Columbia 5, Dartmouth 4
David Vandercook went 3-for-5 with three RBI and pitcher George Thanopoulos improved to 3-0 on the year, as Columbia held off a late Dartmouth charge to take the nightcap.

Dartmouth jumped out to an early 3-0 advantage in the bottom half of the first frame, getting solo homers from Nick Ruppert and Dustin Selzer, as well as a Joe Purritano RBI single. Thanopoulos settled in after the inning, shutting down the Dartmouth scoring over the next six innings, while racking up six strikeouts.

The Lions' offense got the three runs back in the third inning. With runners on first and second, Vandercook drove a ball to the gap in left center, scoring Savage and Serena with just one out. Joey Falcone provided the tying run with a single to center, scoring Vandercook.

Columbia took its first lead of the day in the seventh, and once again it was Vandercook who came through. Savage led off the inning with a single and moved up to second on a throwing error. Vandercook laced another double, this one down the right field line to put Columbia ahead 4-3.

Fischer extended the lead to 5-3 in the eight, when his RBI singled scored Aaron Silbar. A Parisi homer cut the deficit to just one run in the bottom of the ninth, but Thomas Crispi held on for his first save of the season.