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Fargo's Cole Hage embracing leadoff role for Columbia as it enters Ivy League baseball playoffs

Fargo Davies graduate Cole Hage leads the Columbia University baseball team in batting average heading into this weekend's Ivy League playoffs.

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Fargo Davies graduate Cole Hage is having a strong season for the Columbia University baseball team.
Mike McLaughlin / Columbia Athletics
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NEW YORK — Fargo Davies graduate Cole Hage is the leading hitter on an NCAA Division I baseball team that had the longest winning streak in the country at one point this season.

This weekend, Hage and the Columbia Lions play to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament. It’s the type of experience Hage expected when he decided to play for the Ivy League school located in New York.

“It’s been a great experience,” Hage said.

Columbia (27-15) won 19 consecutive games at one point during the regular season and plays at Penn (31-13) on Saturday in Philadelphia, the first game of a best-of-three series. The winner earns the Ivy League’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The series concludes Sunday with at least one game and two, if necessary.

Columbia and Penn both had 17-4 conference marks, but Penn is hosting the conference playoffs due to a series win against Columbia earlier this season.

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Fargo Davies graduate Cole Hage is one of the top hitters for Columbia University this season heading into the Ivy League baseball playoffs.
Mike McLaughlin / Columbia Athletics

“I mean, 19 games in a row, I didn’t expect that,” Hage said. “I’ve always dreamed about playing in an (NCAA) regional because I’ve watched it on TV.”

The 6-foot-3, 238-pound Hage has moved into the leadoff spot for the Lions and has reached base in 40 consecutive games. He leads the team in hitting with a .349 batting average. He also is tied for the team lead with 26 walks and is second on the team with 40 runs scored, playing in and starting 40 games.

“Our team chemistry is so great and I’ve never played on a team that has so much fun playing baseball and that’s rubbed off on me in a positive way,” Hage said.

Hage is new to batting leadoff, a role he has embraced for the Lions. He was moved to the top of the order after batting in the heart of the order earlier this season.

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Former Fargo Davies and Fargo Post 2 standout Cole Hage is leading Columbia University in batting average heading into the Ivy League playoffs.
Mike McLaughlin / Columbia Athletics

“It was an adjustment,” Hage said. “It’s just an awesome way to start the momentum and start energy for the team. I’ve embraced the role and I like doing it. It’s something that I didn’t know I would like, but I’ve grown to really like it.”

Hage is playing in his first college baseball season after his freshman year was lost when the Ivy League canceled its season due to COVID-19. Last spring, Hage was in the Phoenix area training for baseball. He did online learning for his first school year at Columbia.

Hage is happy to be on campus this year and back on the baseball field.

“It makes me appreciate it more,” Hage said. “It’s been a great experience, the traveling, the trips. … The bonds that you form with your teammates are awesome. Being able to experience college and college baseball has been a thrill. For me, baseball has grown on me. I truly love it now.”

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Hage was a multisport athlete at Davies and starred in basketball and baseball in his final two seasons with the Eagles. He was also a key member of the Fargo Post 2 team that made it to the American Legion World Series championship game in 2019. Hage hopes that experience proves valuable in the Ivy League playoffs.

“I think it’s going to be a similar atmosphere to those World Series games,” Hage said. “They’ll just be a good atmosphere. Penn’s a really good team and so are we. It’s going to be a great series.”

Hage credited his coaching at Post 2, Davies, and instruction from Mike Skogen and Mike Lang all playing a role in his college success along with his coaches at Columbia. Skogen and Lang are instructors at “The Ball Yard” training center in Fargo.

Hage said teammate Hayden Schott has helped in his development.

“He’s made me a better hitter,” Hage said.

During the season, Hage said every week a position player is given the Lou Gehrig award for contributions to the team. Gehrig is a Columbia alum and New York Yankees great. The player who gets that award wears a Gehrig jersey for the entire week of practice. Hage said he won that team award once this season.

“You wear it the whole week during practice as motivation for everyone,” Hage said.

Hage, who plays left field, has 13 multiple-hit and six multiple-RBI games this season. He has a .570 slugging percentage, which ranks third on the team. Hage has 15 doubles, six home runs and 32 RBIs to go along with his team-best batting average.

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Hage said playing for an Ivy League baseball program with high academic standards was what he envisioned.

“It’s different and it’s the experience I wanted,” Hage said. “Baseball is definitely what I want to be doing.”

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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