Posted: March 17, 2009
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh’s home opener did not go as planned as the Temple Owls spoiled the day by delivering a 10-5 defeat to the Brown and White. The Owls seized control of the game in the first with four quick runs and never gave up the lead. With the loss, the Mountain Hawks fall to 3-15 on the season, while the Owls improve to 4-9.
“We’ve just been starting slow every game,” Lehigh head coach Sean Leary said. “It’s very difficult for us to overcome the holes we dig at the start of games.”
Cory Kent lasted 3+ innings before being replaced by Dan Ciccone in the fourth. The freshman righty gave up six runs – four earned – while striking out two. Kent gave up five hits and walked two while being charged with the loss.
Geoff Campbell led the offense with a 3-for-5 day at the plate, including a solo home run in the ninth inning. Campbell also pitched a scoreless inning of relief in the bottom of the eighth. Billy Swenson chipped in with a 3-for-5 day at the plate as well, scoring a run on the day. Jim McConlogue drove in two of the Mountain Hawks’ runs on a day where he went 2-for-4.
The Owls struck first with a four-run first inning. Jamie Abercrombie provided the early fireworks when he connected on a grand slam to open up the scoring in the biggest way possible. Abercrombie ripped a Kent pitch over the right-center field fence, scoring Carmen Del Mastro, Sean Barksdale and Kyle Obal for the game’s first four runs.
“Our pitchers have been struggling with location this season,” Leary said. “As a group, that’s something that’s going to need to change if we want to get better.”
Lehigh answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning when Kevin Mihalik singled to center, scoring Billy Goldman from second. But Lehigh’s defense contributed to the scoring in the second, making back-to-back errors, which led to two unearned runs for the Owls in the top of the inning, extending the lead to 6-1.
Temple tacked on another run in the top of the fifth to extend the lead to five runs. Consecutive doubles by Obal and Abercrombie in the sixth put two more runs on the board for the Owls, and bumped the lead up to 9-1. Mark Ortega added one more run with a dribbler towards second base that found its way through the hole to score Abercrombie and make it a nine-run game through 5 1/2 innings.
The Mountain Hawks came back with a small rally of their own in the bottom of the sixth, scoring two runs to cut the deficit to 10-3. Jim McConlogue drove in both of the runs with a single that slid past the shortstop with the bases loaded. The Brown and White added an unearned run in the eighth to cut the lead to six runs.
Campbell jolted the lineup with a solo shot to lead off the bottom of the ninth. After coming on in the previous inning to pitch and escaping a bases loaded jam with a double play, Campbell locked in on a fastball on the outside corner and blasted an opposite-field homer to pull the Mountain Hawks back to within 10-5.
“He’s been our rock this year,” Leary said of Campbell. “He has done everything we’ve asked him to do in the field, at the plate and on the mound. He’s hitting the cover off the ball.”
Lehigh returns to action on Wednesday, when the Mountain Hawks travel to Philadelphia to take on St. Joseph’s at 3 p.m.