Posted: March 14, 2009
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – In its first home games of the season, Lehigh split a doubleheader with Niagara Saturday afternoon at Kaufman Field. The visiting Purple Eagles used a five-run fifth inning to take the opener 5-2, but the Mountain Hawks responded in the nightcap, scoring three runs in each of the first two innings en route to a 8-0 win in five innings. The split moves Lehigh’s record to 9-8 on the season, while Niagara is now 9-6.
After dropping the opener, Lehigh wasted little time jumping on the Purple Eagles in game two. The Mountain Hawks put together three consecutive RBI extra-base hits, doubles from seniors Lisa Sweeney and Alisha Gonzales and a triple from freshman Jen Colquhoun, to take a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
“There were two very good teams playing out there,” said Lehigh head coach Fran Troyan. “By scoring early, we gave our batters some confidence. Lisa’s hit really took all the pressure away.”
The Mountain Hawks added to their lead in the bottom of the second as they loaded the bases on a walk and two singles. With one out, freshman Julie Fernandez drilled a double to centerfield, clearing the bases to give Lehigh a commanding 6-0 advantage.
Lehigh tacked on a run in the bottom of the fourth on a pinch-hit home run to left field by sophomore Sam Miller. In the fifth, senior Kristyn Kubiak delivered a two-out game-ending RBI infield single to score the eighth and final run.
Junior Tiffany Curtis was strong in the pitcher’s circle allowing just three singles, while striking out five on the way to her third shutout of the season. Curtis, who did not walk a batter, improves to 4-2 with the win, while Niagara’s Katie Gleiser was tagged with the loss.
In Saturday’s first game, things started well for the Mountain Hawks, as Sweeney retired the first ten batters she faced on her way to an 11 strikeout performance.
Sophomore Alex Cueva put Lehigh on the scoreboard with a fourth inning double to centerfield that scored senior Ali Torborg.
Niagara responded in a big way in the fifth, scoring five runs on five hits off of Sweeney. The Purple Eagles batted around in the frame, with Melissa Markle tying the game with an RBI single and Kristin Kill delivering the big blow, a bases-clearing three run double to left field.
Lehigh threatened in the top of the sixth, but was only able to push one run across, as Cueva drove in her second run of the game with a fielder’s choice. Julie DiMatteo kept the Mountain Hawks at bay, allowing just two runs on five hits in 6.2 innings of work. Sweeney fell to 5-4 with the loss as she allowed five runs on eight hits.
“We played very well in the first game,” explained Troyan. “Give Niagara credit. We hit a lot of balls right at them and they made some tremendous defensive plays. They scored five earned runs against one of the best pitchers in the east. They earned it.”
The Mountain Hawks and Purple Eagles will wrap-up their three-game series with a single game on Sunday at Kaufman Field. First pitch is set for 12 p.m. and all the action can be heard on Lehighsports.com with streaming powered by Yahoo! Sports College Broadcast.