LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. – Junior Lisa Sweeney capped off a ten run first inning with a grand slam, her school single-season record-tying seventh home run of the season, as Lehigh rolled past Rider 12-1 in five innings in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday at Herb & Joan Young Field. The Mountain Hawks had to settle for a split however, as the host Broncs took the nightcap 3-2. With the split Lehigh is now 29-11-1 on the season, while Rider stands at 10-22.
Sweeney’s two-out blast to left wrapped up a frame in which Lehigh sent 13 batters to the plate. The Mountain Hawks also benefitted from poor Bronc defense as Rider was charged with four errors in the frame.
Senior Kate Marvel led off the game with a walk, and after a failed sacrifice attempt, Lehigh loaded the bases on a pair of fielder’s choices in which Rider was charged with two errors. An infield single from sophomore Brooke Lewis put the Mountain Hawks on the scoreboard. Lehigh extended its lead to 2-0 on the third Rider error of the frame, and then senior Taryn Hanley followed with a single to centerfield, which scored junior Alisha Gonzales.
Lehigh added three more runs on two bases loaded walks, a fielder’s choice and a fourth Bronc error to take a 6-0 lead. Sweeney followed a bases-loaded walk to freshman Carly Potock by depositing a Lauren Brunner offering over the fence in left for a grand slam. The home run ties Sweeney for Lehigh’s single season home run record, a mark she currently shares with Mary Wieder (2006), Julie Sterrett (2006), Kim Miller (1996) and Kathy Kotula (1994).
Junior Whitney Lowe ripped three hits and drove in three runs, including RBI singles which accounted for single runs in the third and fifth innings.
In the circle, sophomore Tiffany Curtis retired the first nine batters she faced before yielding three hits and a run in the fourth inning. Curtis struck out three and did not walk a batter as she picked up her 11th win of the season.
Brunner took the loss for Rider, allowing 11 runs in 2.1 innings. All 11 runs were unearned thanks to five Bronc errors in the game.
In game two, Lehigh raced to an early lead courtesy of another Rider error and an RBI double to left center by Sweeney. Freshman Briana Gaumer made her fourth start of the season and first since early March, but the Mountain Hawks had some defensive troubles of their own which allowed Rider to take the lead with three runs in the bottom of the first inning.
With one out, Derrin Minunni singled down the right field line, but an error by freshman Mickey LaValley allowed Minunni to reach third. Tiffany Day-Neutill then made Lehigh pay for a dropped foul ball with an RBI double which tied the game at one. An RBI double from Aimee Schiller gave the Broncs the lead and Mandi Sekly added an RBI single as Rider led 3-1 after one.
Lehigh had several chances to tie the game, but left five runners on base in the second through fourth innings and stranded seven for the game. The Mountain Hawks plated a second run as sophomore Lauren Eichblatt reached on a fielder’s choice, which scored Hanley. Lehigh had runners on first and second when Marvel delivered a two-out single, but Day-Neutill gunned down Eichblatt at the plate to end the inning.
Jessica Holland went the first four innings in the circle to earn the win for Rider as she improves to 4-9. Brunner came out of the bullpen to retire nine of the 11 batters she faced to earn her first save of the season.
Gaumer suffered her first collegiate loss after yielding three runs (one earned) on seven hits, while striking out one in five innings. She falls to 1-1 on the season. After the two first-inning errors, Gaumer did receive some help from her defense as freshman Alex Cueva bailed Lehigh out of a first and third, no out jam by snaring a line drive off the bat of Schiller and turning it into a 6-5-3 triple play.
Sweeney pitched a perfect sixth inning of relief, striking out two Broncs to move her four strikeouts shy of 600 for her career and 14 shy of the Lehigh and Patriot League career record.
The Mountain Hawks will return to the diamond on Saturday when they head to Worcester, Massachusetts to open a four game Patriot League series with Holy Cross. The Mountain Hawks and Crusaders will play doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday with first pitch for both days set for noon from Freshmen Field.