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Courtesy: Mark Washburn

Dartmouth Heads to Columbia for Ivy League Championship Series

Courtesy: Dartmouth
Release: 05/09/2014
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IVY LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Dartmouth (18-19, 11-9) at Columbia (25-17, 15-5)

Location: Robertson Field at Satow Stadium (500), New York, N.Y.
First pitches: Saturday, May 10 (DH) at noon; Sunday, May 11 (if necessary) at 1 p.m.
Series Record vs. Columbia: Big Green lead, 103-72
Live Video: Ivy League Digital Network — Wayne Young and Lance Medow, announcers
Live Stats
Complete Weekend Notes


Seventh Straight Trip to ILCS
With the 11-4 defeat of Yale in the Rolfe Division playoff last Sunday, Dartmouth secured its seventh straight division title (and eighth straight victory) to advance to the Ivy League Championship Series. The victory sets up a rematch of last year’s ILCS against Columbia as the Lions also won a playoff, topping Penn, 4-0.

Dartmouth is 2-4 in those previous six trips with half of those series coming versus Columbia. The Lions won the initial matchup in Hanover in 2008, and the Big Green exacted their revenge two years later in New York with both series going the full three games. Last year, Columbia swept the series, winning the first game in extra innings, 6-5, before scoring eight runs in the final three frames of the second contest to win going away, 12-5.

Last Week in Review
•    Dartmouth swept a doubleheader at Harvard on April 27, 9-0 and 5-3, to clinch a tie atop the Rolfe Division standings with Yale and set up the playoff on May 4.
•    The Bulldogs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second with the second run scoring when Big Green starter Beau Sulser suffered an injury on a wild pitch with a runner on third.
•    Sophomore Duncan Robinson came on to throw one pitch to get the final out, then hurled the next five frames to pick up his seventh win to tie for the league lead.
•    The offense exploded for seven runs in the third, the fourth time this season it has scored at least at least that many in one inning, and third time in the previous two weeks.
•    Junior Nick Lombardi matched a career high with four RBIs with a two-run triple and a two-run bomb, his team-leading fifth of the year.
•    Both senior Jeff Keller and junior Bo Patterson equaled season highs with three hits apiece.
•    Wrapping up the game on the mound was senior Louis Concato, who earned his first career save in his 37th appearance (20 in relief) as he entered with a three-run lead before the Big Green extended their advantage to the 11-4 final.
•    The victory was the eighth straight for Dartmouth, which has won at least seven consecutive games in each of the last seven seasons.

Last Time Against the Lions
These two teams split a pair of one-run games in Hanover five weeks ago with Dartmouth winning the first game in 10 innings, 3-2, and Columbia taking game two, 5-4.

The Big Green were in control of game one after touching Lion starter David Speer for solitary runs in the fourth and sixth innings. Beau Sulser blanked Columbia for the first six innings and recorded his career-high 11th strikeout to start the seventh before a single and a dropped fly ball gave the Lions life. After a sacrifice fly cut the lead in half, Jordan Serena greeted reliever Duncan Robinson with a game-tying double. But in the 10th, Matt Parisi walked with two outs, then raced home on a full-count double off the bat of Jeff Keller for the first of three walk-off wins this season.

In the second game of the twinbill, Dartmouth jumped on Lion starter George Thanopoulos for three runs in the first, starting with homers by Nick Ruppert and Dustin Selzer. Columbia knotted the score in the third with David Vandercook providing a key two-run double, then took the lead in the seventh against Louis Concato on another Vandercook two-bagger. In the eighth, the Lions tacked on an insurance run that turned out to be huge when Parisi blasted a solo shot in the ninth. That was all the Big Green could muster, however, in a 5-4 defeat.

The Overall Record vs. Columbia
•    Dartmouth owns a fairly sizable advantage in the all-time series, 103-72.
•    This has become a rivalry of late as the two teams are meeting in the Ivy Championship Series for the fourth time in the past seven years. The Lions beat the Green in Hanover in 2008, two games to one, and Dartmouth returned the favor in 2010 on Columbia’s home turf. Last year’s showdown went to the Lions in two games in New York.
•    Dartmouth head coach Bob Whalen has a 37-21 mark in games against Columbia.
•    Columbia has been playing on FieldTurf at its home park — Robertson Field at Satow Stadium — since 2008. The Big Green are 8-3 on it and 16-11 in New York since the divisional format was installed for the Ivy League in 1993.

Scouting the Lions
•    Columbia got hot after leaving Hanover a month ago, winning 15 straight games (beginning with the 5-4 victory against the Big Green) before Penn dealt the Lions a pair of losses. But with a victory in the regular-season finale over the Quakers and a 4-0 win in the Gehrig Division playoff, Columbia has earned the right to host the championship.
•    The offense has been productive top to bottom in the order while hitting .270 as a team. Second baseman Will Savage leads the Ivy League with a .354 average and hit a whopping .414 in conference play, while Gus Craig tops the Lions with four homers. David Vandercook provides some pop as well with 13 doubles to go with his three long balls. And no team runs as much as Columbia, which is 60-of-73 stealing bases, led by center fielder Jordan Serena (21-of-25).
•    In Ivy play, the Lions posted the best team ERA at 2.51 with lefty David Speer leading the way at a miniscule 1.06. He also was 4-0 in the league with his only no-decision coming against Dartmouth in the 3-2 Big Green win. Columbia also features LHP George Thanopoulos (5-1, 2.91) and Kevin Roy (3.55, 4-4) in its rotation.
•    Late in close games, the Lions will likely rely heavily on RHP Zack Tax (2-2, 1.56, 2 saves) and LHP Mike Weisman (1-0, 2.04, 1 save). For longer stints, Columbia has the fourth weekend starter in RHP Joey Donino (3-3, 4.22), who averages just over a strikeout per inning, plus LHP Thomas Crispi (3-1, 5.46) and RHP Adam Cline (0-3, 5.70).
•    While Dartmouth has the best fielding percentage in the Ivy League, the Lions are second and have the best percentage of throwing out would-be base stealers at nearly 50 percent with veteran Mike Fischer behind the plate.

What’s Up Next
The team that wins the series will begin preparations for an NCAA Regional, to be announced on ESPNU on May 26 at noon. For the other team, the 2014 season will come to an end.

Rolfe Division Champs Again
The odds were against Dartmouth on winning its seventh straight Rolfe Division title and 10th overall when the Big Green had a record of 5-9, three games behind Yale, with six to play. But thanks to six straight victories in league play to end the season, Dartmouth finished tied with the Bulldogs, then trounced them in a one-game playoff, 11-4, to claim the crown. Only Princeton has won more consecutive division titles, winning nine straight from 1996-2004, and more overall (11).

Eight-Game Win Streak
The win over Yale was the eighth consecutive victory for Dartmouth, which has had a win streak of at least seven in each of these seven years the Big Green has won the division title consecutively. Last year Dartmouth entered the Ivy League Championship Series with a seven-game win streak, and in 2011 it had won 10 straight games, but was unable to maintain its winning ways in losing to Columbia last year and Princeton three years ago.

Robinson Wins Seventh Game
Sophomore Duncan Robinson picked up his seventh win to tie for the league lead in the 11-4 victory over Yale. This is the second straight year Dartmouth has had a pitcher record seven victories with Michael Johnson going 7-0 last season. Before that, no Big Green pitcher had seven wins since Conor Brooks was 8-2 in 2000.

In addition, Robinson leads the team with a modest two saves, making him one of just 14 Division I pitchers to lead his team in both categories.

Big Green Banter
•    Since divisional play was instituted in 1993, Dartmouth has had one or more players hit at least .350 every season. But this year Jeff Keller leads the Big Green with a .317 average.
•    The team batting average of .278 is also the lowest during this streak of seven straight division titles. The only other year Dartmouth hit under .300 was in 2012 at .298. But that .278 mark is the best in the league this season.
•    Keller leads the Ivy League with 15 doubles one year after topping Division I in doubles per game.
•    Thomas Roulis is tied for the league lead with four triples.
•    In conference games only, Nick Lombardi leads the loop with 39 total bases and ranks second with his .557 slugging percentage.
•    Dustin Selzer has the sixth-best average in league play at .350.
•    Dartmouth leads the conference with a .978 fielding percentage (and ranks 11th nationally), the third straight year it owns the top mark in the Ancient Eight and fourth in the past five.
•    Over the last 10 games, the Big Green have six regulars hitting at least .300, led by Nick Lombardi at .395 and Dustin Selzer at .375.
•    Take away his first outing of the season, Duncan Robinson has an ERA of 2.01 in 44.2 innings, and his 1.29 ERA in conference games is the third lowest among qualifiers.
•    No team hit more homers (14) or triples (6), or had more total bases (245) in Ivy games than Dartmouth. Yet the Big Green struck out fewer times (99) than any other team.

100 RBI Men
Seniors Jeff Keller and Dustin Selzer recently surpassed 100 career RBIs, the 16th and 17th players in Dartmouth history to do so. Keller reached the milestone against St. Anselm on April 22 and currently has 104 RBIs. Selzer waited until the final regular-season game against Harvard to hit the century mark and opens the ILCS with 101 to his credit.

Scoring Machines
When Nick Ruppert and Bo Patterson get on base against an Ivy League team, more often than not they end up crossing the plate. Ruppert reached base 28 times in league games on 18 hits, six walks and four hit by pitches, and he scored 18 runs (second in the league), a 64.3 percent rate. Patterson, meanwhile, had more limited playing time and reached base 14 times on 12 hits and two walks. But he scored at an even better rate — 71.4 percent as he provided 10 runs for the Big Green.

Closing Out Victories
Dartmouth has been very successful in closing out victories over the past five seasons. The Big Green have won 48 straight games when leading after eight innings, and they have a record of 87-1 since the start of the 2010 season. That one loss came at UC Irvine in 2012 when the Anteaters rallied for two in the bottom of the ninth in a 5-4 Dartmouth defeat. If you include having the lead after six stanzas in seven-inning contests, the Green have won 64 straight and gone 113-1.

Purring in the Clutch
Tied for the team lead with 26 RBIs, it should not be a surprise to know that sophomore Joe Purritano has thrived in clutch situations this season. The lefty-swinging designated hitter is hitting a solid .319 with runners on base, but an even better .395 with runners in scoring position. And with runners in scoring position with two out? A mind-boggling .611 (11-for-18)!

500 in the Books
It took three tries, but Dartmouth head coach Bob Whalen picked up his 500th victory with the 7-0 blanking of Brown on Easter Sunday, April 20. He is the only Big Green coach in any sport to win even 400 games, let alone 500, and he enters this series with a career mark of 507-472-1 in his 25 seasons. In the Ivy League, he trails only Penn’s Bob Sneddon (634 wins, 1971-2005), Princeton’s Bill Clarke (564, 1909-44) and Cornell’s Ted Thoren (541, 1962-90).

Lucas ’04 Makes MLB Roster
Ed Lucas ’04 got his first call-up to the big leagues last year with the Miami Marlins at the age of 31 and made the most of his opportunity by hitting .256 with four homers and 28 RBIs in 351 at-bats. This spring, he battled for a spot on the opening-day roster with the Marlins, hitting .333/.415/.500, and was informed he made the cut on March 27. Later that day, however, he was hit by a pitch, breaking his left hand. He started the 2014 season on the disabled list, but has returned to get four hits in his first 13 at-bats.

Minor League Update
Dartmouth as a number of recent alumni playing for MLB organizations. Kyle Hendricks ’12 was named the Chicago Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2013 and started this season in Triple-A with the Iowa Cubs. The right-hander has a 3-3 record an 3.64 ERA with 43 strikeouts and just 11 walks in 42.0 innings.

His classmate, Joe Sclafani ’12, started the season at Double-A Corpus Christi in the Houston Astros organization after enjoying a fine 2013 season at two different levels of Single-A ball. He is off to a bit of a slow start with a .215 average in 79 at-bats, but has struck out just six times.

Cole Sulser ’12 opened the year with the High-A Carolina Mudcats in the Cleveland Indians organization and is 0-3 with a 3.41 ERA and 26-7 K-BB ratio in six starts.

Mitch Horacek ’14 has similar numbers to Sulser with the Delmarva Shorebirds in the Low-A South Atlantic League in the Baltimore Orioles organization with a 1-3 record and 3.67 ERA, striking out 30 and walking just eight in 34.1 innings.

Then there’s Michael Johnson ’13 pitching out of the bullpen for the Great Lakes Loons in the Low-A Midwest League in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. The southpaw has a sparkling 1.47 ERA in 18.1 innings with a 1-1 record, one save and 22 strikeouts against just seven walks.

Finally, Chris O’Dowd ’13 is hitting .278 in 90 at-bats for the Modesto Nuts in the Colorado Rockies organization in the High-A California League.

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