Posted: March 25, 2008
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Behind a strong pitching performance from Rob Russell, Lehigh defeated Villanova 3-2 on Tuesday afternoon in the first round of the Liberty Bell Classic. Russell (3-1) earned his third win of the year after pitching six innings, allowing just four hits on one run and he struck out a game high six. The Brown and White improves to 12-11 with the win, while the Wildcats fall to 7-13.
“I thought our pitchers really battled well out there on the mound and made their pitches all game,” said Lehigh head coach Sean Leary. “Our offense really scraped together those runs, but that’s the way you have to play if you want to win these close games.”
The Mountain Hawks struck first in the bottom of the third on a shallow hit to center field by Matt Reitz that allowed Logan Marshall and Andy Russell to score. Marshall and Russell both reached base on singles with two outs.
In the fifth, Villanova loaded the bases with no outs, but could only manage one run in the inning on a wild pitch. Lehigh maintained its two run lead by adding one in the bottom half of the inning on an RBI groundout to third base by pinch hitter Austin Borden.
The score stayed the same through the ninth, when Joe Cotter led of the top half of inning with a homerun to centerfield to cut Lehigh’s lead to 3-2. Matt McFolling followed that up a batter later with a double to right field, and it looked as if the Wildcats were going to rally for more runs. However, Kevin Mihalik, who came into relief Rob Russell in the seventh, settled down and got the final two batters of the inning out, to put an end to the game.
Mihalik pitched the last three innings of the game, allowing just one run on three hits, no walks and struck out four to earn his first career save.
Chris Pack (0-2) was given the loss, pitching the first 4.1 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits.
The Mountain Hawks now advance to the semifinals of the Liberty Bell Classic, where they will play Temple, on April 1. The game site and time will be determined later.
Lehigh returns to the diamond this weekend when it opens up Patriot League competition against Holy Cross. The Crusaders come to Goodman Campus for a four-game series beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday at 12 p.m.