BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh held leads in both ends of Tuesday’s non-league doubleheader with Villanova, but the Mountain Hawks let the lead get away in each game. The Mountain Hawks led by one after five innings in the opener, but a three-run homer by Eryn Teague gave the visiting Wildcats a 3-1 win. Lehigh let an 8-2 advantage get away in the nightcap, but junior Lisa Sweeney scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh to salvage a 9-9 tie. The Mountain Hawks now stand at 25-9-1 on the season, while the Wildcats evened their record at 14-14-1.
Game one was scoreless for the first four and a half innings, before the Mountain Hawks broke through with a run off of Nicci Ward in the fifth. Senior Kate Marvel started the inning with a single to left and was sacrificed to second by sophomore Lauren Eichblatt. Two batters later junior Alisha Gonzales drilled a double off the fence in left field scoring Marvel to put the Brown and White up 1-0.
Sophomore Tiffany Curtis opened the sixth by giving up a walk and a single, and following a sacrifice bunt, Teague stepped up and blasted a three-run home run to dead centerfield, which gave the Wildcats the lead.
Ward improved to 4-5 in the circle for Villanova, allowing one run on four hits while striking out six and walking five. Curtis was saddled with her third straight loss, after yielding three runs on five hits. The right hander walked two and struck out four, as she falls to 10-7 on the season.
The nightcap featured substantially more offense, as the teams combined for 26 hits in the contest, which was called after seven innings due to darkness.
After Villanova scored twice off of Sweeney in the first, Lehigh answered with eight runs in the next three frames to take an 8-2 lead. In the first, sophomore Brooke Lewis got Lehigh on the board with a two out RBI single that scored Sweeney.
In the second inning, the Mountain Hawks plated five runs to take the lead. With runners on second and third and one out, Marvel dropped a squeeze bunt and Wildcat starter Megan Hord threw high to home plate, which allowed senior Taryn Hanley and freshman Carly Potock to score to give Lehigh a 3-2 advantage. After junior Whitney Lowe flied out and Sweeney was issued an intentional walk, Gonzales laced a triple to right center, which scored two more runs. Lewis capped the five-run frame with her second RBI single of the game.
The Mountain Hawks added to their lead with two more runs in the third, on an RBI single from Sweeney and a run-scoring groundout by Gonzales.
The Wildcats began their comeback with two runs in the fourth on a two-run triple from Natalie Hord. Villanova then followed with five runs off Sweeney in the sixth to take a 9-8 lead. A bases-loaded triple by Jessica Curtis tied the game at eight, and then Curtis scored the go-ahead run on a double by Meghan Morese.
As darkness descended upon Kaufman Field things looked bleak for the home team, but with one out in the bottom of the seventh Sweeney ripped her third hit of the ballgame, a single through the right side. Gonzales followed with a single up the middle, which moved Sweeney to third. Ward relieved Hord in the circle, but was unable to notch the save as she threw a wild pitch with Lewis batting, and Sweeney raced home and slid under the tag to tie the game. Lewis would eventually strike out, and after a walk to junior Kristyn Kubiak and a ground out by Hanley, the game was declared a tie after seven innings.
Sweeney finished the doubleheader 3-for-5 to improve her batting average to .400 on the season, but suffered her roughest outing of the year in the circle, allowing nine runs and 12 hits while walking three and striking out six.
Lehigh out hit Villanova 14-12 in game two, with Gonzales, Lewis, Potock and freshman Mickey LaValley all recording two hits to join Sweeney with a multi-hit game.
The Mountain Hawks will resume Patriot League play this weekend when they host second place Bucknell for four key games at Kaufman Field. Action begins Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.