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Columbia and Siena set sights on Road to Omaha

by Bob Whitney | Posted on Thursday, May 29th, 2014
Brett Boretti leads the Ivy League Champion Columbia Lions. (Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Mike McLaughlin)

Brett Boretti leads the Ivy League Champion Columbia Lions. (Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Mike McLaughlin)

Its time to “Play Ball” as the 2014 NCAA baseball tournament gets underway on Friday, May 30 at 16 regional sites across the country.

Two local entries, Columbia and Siena, are in the 64-team tournament. Columbia is making its second consecutive trip to the regional tournament after receiving an automatic bid as the Ivy League champs.

The Lions (29-18, 15-5 Ivy League) are entering the tournament on a roll after a sweep of Dartmouth in the Ivy League Championship Series and winning two of three from Bucknell University in last weekend’s regular season series finale. The Bisons will be playing against Virginia in the first game of the Charlottesville, VA Regional.

Columbia has won 21 of its last 24 games, including a win streak that lasted a program-record 15 games. The 29 wins is a new standard for wins in the Lions rich program history.

Pitching and defense have been the keys to the Columbia fortunes under current head coach Brett Boretti, who is leading the Lions to a third NCAA Championship appearance in his six years as the Columbia skipper.

“After last years tournament experience and our challenging regular season schedule we feel we are capable of beating anyone in the country, “ said the Columbia coach.

George Thanopoulos (5-2, 2.81 ERA) is expected to get the starting nod in the first game against Texas Tech (Friday, May 30 at 2 p.m.).

The Red Raiders are back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004 after a solid 40-18 record (14-10 Big 12).

Texas Tech was an at-large selection to the Coral Gables Regional and it will mark their 10th NCAA postseason appearance.

Chris Sadberry (4-2, 3.45 ERA) is scheduled to get the start for the Red Raiders.

The Lions and Red Raiders will be joined in the Coral Gables Region by host and regular season ACC champ Miami (41-17, 24-6 ACC) and Bethune-Cookman (26-31,14-10 MEAC), who will play Friday night at 7 p.m.

For the Siena College Saints (26-31, 17-7 MAAC) and current MAAC champs it will mark their first trip to the regionals since 1999. The Saints have been slotted in the Fort Worth Regional along with Sam Houston State (41-17), Dallas Baptist (40-19) and host TCU.

The Saints, under veteran skipper Tony Rossi, will open tournament play against the TCU Horned Frogs (42-15) on Friday, May 30 at 8 p.m.

Siena pitching ace, Matt Gage (4-7 4.81 ERA) is expected to get the start against the Horner Frogs. Although Siena has a losing overall record, the team will enter the tournament having won 21 of their last 29 games.

TCU is one of the top teams in the country and enters the tournament on a high after claiming its first Big 12 title.The Horned Frogs have won 27 of their past 30 games, including four in a row in the Big 12 conference tournament.

Coverage for all games from each of the 16 Regional sites will be available on ESPN3 or the WatchESPN App on mobile devices.

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