The reigning Ivy League champion Yale baseball team will have the opportunity to punch its ticket to its second consecutive NCAA Tournament this week when it takes on Columbia in the Ivy League Championship Series.
Posting the best conference record in the regular season, the Bulldogs will host every game of the best-of-three series. Games one and two are scheduled from noon and 3 p.m. on Tuesday, while the if-necessary game three will take place on Wednesday at 1 p.m.
The News breaks down the five most important stats heading into the clash:
2.13: The earned run average of Yale pitcher Scott Politz ’19 in Ivy play.
Politz boasts the lowest ERA in the conference among starting pitchers. Yale’s ace has been dominant in Ivy League play with a 4–1 record, and the junior fanned seven batters in his last outing against the Lions.
The ILCS pits the conference’s best offense against its best pitching staff. As a unit, the Bulldog rotation has an league-leading ERA of just 3.01. Projected to take the mound for the first game of the series, Politz can set the tone early like he did in last season’s ILCS, when he pitched a complete-game shutout to hand Yale the first game against Penn.
0: The number of runs given up by Yale reliever Benny Wanger ’19 this year.
Enter Sandman. Wanger has looked like Mariano Rivera this season as Yale’s closer. In 19 innings of relief in Ivy play, Wanger — who plays most of the game at first base — has yet to give up a run while striking out 21 batters.
Wanger was a star in last season’s ILCS, hitting two home runs in the series-clinching game for the Bulldogs. If Yale can get to the ninth inning with a lead, Wanger is well positioned to close the door on the Lions.
.301: Columbia’s batting average in Ancient Eight games.
On the other side of the best offense versus best defense ILCS, the Lions can hit. Columbia leads the Ivy League in batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.
The Lions put up 11 runs — seven of which came in the ninth inning — in the first meeting of the season between Columbia and Yale. With center fielder Ben Porter back in the lineup after missing a large portion of the season including the series with Yale, Columbia is capable of putting up a lot of runs on Tuesday in New Haven.
3: The number of consecutive ILCSs won by the Lions between 2013 and 2015.
Head coach Brett Boretti’s teams have been clutch in recent years. According to Columbia Athletics, the Lions are 16–4 in elimination games since 2013.
When the Lions need a win, they have found a way to get the job done, as can be seen by their three consecutive Ivy titles. Even this year, Columbia needed two wins against Cornell in the final series of the season to even qualify for the ILCS.
7: The number of RBIs by Yale left fielder Harry Hegeman ’21 against Columbia.
Yale’s rookie had his best series of the year earlier this season at Columbia. In three games against the Lions, Hegeman reached base eight times, batted in seven runs and scored six runs.
Although Hegeman has been quiet for much of the season, he has the recipe against Columbia’s pitchers, and might just deliver another gem in the biggest series of the year.