Posted: March 4, 2009
PALM BEACH, Fla. – For the second consecutive game in Florida, the Mountain Hawks took a first-inning lead but could not hold on for the win. This time, the Akron Zips overcame a 1-0 deficit to score eight straight runs in a 9-6 victory at the Palm Beach Challenge.
Lehigh made one last effort at a comeback in the ninth, when Billy Goldman added a sacrifice fly, and the Mountain Hawks loaded the bases trailing by five with two outs. Andy Russell drove in two runs with a two-out single that cut the deficit to just three runs and brought the tying run to the plate. But Ryne Romick came out of the pen with the game on the line and struck out Kevin Mihalik for the game’s final out.
“It was a really rough start,” Lehigh head coach Sean Leary said. “We just haven’t gotten strong starting performances from our pitchers. It’s difficult to win when you have to spend so much energy getting back into the ballgame.”
Russell led Lehigh with three hits and two RBI in the loss. Goldman, Austin Borden and Billy Swenson each drove in a run for the Mountain Hawks offense.
“Luke Porter threw the ball pretty well for us and kind of stemmed the tide a little with some good pitching in relief,” Leary said. “It was encouraging to see that our bench was ready when it was called upon at the end there.”
Andrew Berger took the hill for the Mountain Hawks, who fall to 3-7 on the season with the loss. Berger gave up four earned runs on eight hits in four innings, while being charged with the loss.
Benjamin Danziger earned the win for the Zips, who improve to 1-7 with their first win of the season. Danziger threw eight innings while only giving up two earned runs on seven hits. Danziger gave up two hits in the first, but he retired the next 12 batters to allow the Zips to mount a comeback.
Akron got on the board for the first time in the third inning, springing for four runs against Berger. Jake Plata struck the largest blow in the inning with a three-run home run that put Akron up 3-1. Berger gave up one more run in the inning, and three more overall before his day was over after one batter in the fifth inning.
Porter relieved Berger in the fifth, and the sophomore righty gave up two runs, one earned in the inning, as Lehigh fell behind 8-1. Porter settled down in the sixth, striking out two of the three batters he faced in a much-needed clean inning for the Lehigh bullpen.
Porter pitched five innings in relief, giving up just two earned runs on six hits and striking out eight batters to keep Lehigh in the game and keep the rest of the bullpen rested.
“Porter threw his breaking ball for strikes and that’s been a huge key for our guys,” Leary said. “He had a really solid outing keeping us in the ballgame.”
The Mountain Hawks finally got back on the board in the sixth with back-to-back RBI singles by Borden and Swenson to cut the lead to 8-3. An RBI single by Brian Kordal put the Zips back up by six runs in the eighth and provided the necessary insurance in the win.
Lehigh returns to action on Thursday, when the Mountain Hawks take on St. Bonaventure at the Palm Beach Classic in Florida.