Posted: April 1, 2008
AMBLER, Pa. – The Mountain Hawks advanced to their second straight Liberty Bell Classic championship game, and fourth in the last five years, with a thrilling 17-15 win over Temple on Tuesday afternoon at Skip Wilson Field. Liam O’Connor, Billy Swenson and Billy Goldman led the Lehigh offensive outburst, each driving in a team high three RBI. Matt Heltz had a game high six RBI in the losing effort for the Owls, who fall to 13-10 with the loss. The Brown and White improve to 13-15 with the win.
The Owls struck first in the bottom of the first, on a three-run homerun to right field by Heltz, his second of the year. Temple added two more on a two-run single by Jaime Abercrombie, to jump out to an early 5-0 lead.
The Mountain Hawks did not let the early setback faze them, as Andy Russell led off the top of the second with a double to left field. Russell came around to score on a double by Geoff Campbell, putting runners on second and third, as Logan Marshall had walked in the previous at bat.
Joe Bellini picked up an RBI on a groundout to third base, plating Marshall, to cut Lehigh’s deficit to 5-2. The Mountain Hawks received a huge boost two batters later when O’Connor belted his first career homerun, a two-run shot over the left field fence. Joe Ercolano capped off the rally and tied the game up at 5-5, when he scored on a wild pitch.
Lehigh continued its offensive onslaught in the next inning, putting four more runs on the board. The Mountain Hawks loaded the bases with just one away, then Swenson proceeded to unload them on a three-run triple center field. O’Connor picked up his third RBI of the game on a single through the middle of the infield, to score Swenson, giving Lehigh a 9-5 advantage.
Temple responded with a rally of its own, scoring five runs in the bottom of the third to reclaim the lead, 10-9. The offenses settled down over the next two innings, until the top of the sixth, when Lehigh tied the game back up at 10-10 on an RBI triple by Russell. Campbell laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Russell and the Mountain Hawks had the lead back at 11-10 through six and a half innings.
The Mountain Hawks pounded out three more runs in the top of the seventh, with Ercolano, Goldman and Brendan McGaheran all picking up RBI in the inning. The Owls tried closing the gap in the bottom half of the inning, scoring two runs, but Lehigh’s offense could not be stopped, as they put three more runs up in the top of the eighth, taking a 17-12 lead with just an inning and a half to play.
Temple added three runs in the bottom half of the eighth, and Lehigh entered the last inning with a 17-15 lead. After the Mountain Hawks went down in order in the top of the ninth, the Owls started the bottom half of the inning with a leadoff walk by Kyle Obal. However, Temple could not take advantage of the opportunity, and Andrew Berger shut the door on them to pick up his second save of the year.
Andrew Grim (1-1) picked up his first win of the season, pitching 3.2 innings, allowing no runs on just three hits. Berger pitched 1.2 innings of scoreless relief, allowing just two hits.
Lehigh will now face the winner of Lafayette-Delaware in the championship game on Tuesday April 8 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. The Leopards and Fightin’ Blue Hens were rained out Tuesday and will play their second round contest on Wednesday in Easton, Pa.
Lehigh returns to Patriot League play this weekend, as they host a home-and-home series with Navy. The first two games against the Midshipmen will be played in Annapolis, Md. on Saturday, while Sunday’s doubleheader will take place on Goodman Campus. Sunday’s games can also be seen on Service Electric 2 Sports and Lehighsports.com, with streaming provided by Yahoo! Sports.