NORRISTOWN, Pa. – Lehigh flew out of the gates to grab a 12-2 lead in the second inning on Wednesday, but St. Joseph’s was able to chip away throughout the game and pulled even with the Mountain Hawks through nine innings. By the time the smoke cleared, the score was 19-19 after nine innings and the game had to be considered a tie due to darkness.
After the tie, Lehigh’s record stands at 3-15-1 while St. Joseph’s moves to 4-10-1.
“The offense certainly swung the bats well today,” Lehigh head coach Sean Leary said. “But as encouraging as that was, it was equally disappointing that our pitchers couldn’t hold on to the lead.”
The Mountain Hawks offense put on its best performance of the season, with every player in the lineup recording a hit and eight different players recording multi-hit games. Michael Laychur capped off a 3-for-4 day at the plate with a 3-run home run. Brendan Pifer and Kevin Mihalik each went yard as well for the Brown and White.
Lehigh totaled 21 hits on the day, but the pitching staff also gave up 24 hits to the Hawks to keep St. Joseph’s in the game.
Mihalik got the ball rolling in the first with a two-run double to open up the floodgates in a seven-run first. Pifer joined in on the hit parade by belting a two-run homer, and Ryan Gajdos also drove in a run in the inning.
After St. Joseph’s answered with two in the bottom half of the first, Lehigh’s offense struck again with five in the second. Mihalik drove in his third and fourth runs of the game with a two-run home run, then Laychur went yard for the first time this season to drive in three more runs.
The 19 runs is the highest total by the Lehigh offense in a game this season. The Mountain Hawks came into Wednesday’s game averaging 4.7 runs per game.
“That’s something we can definitely build on,” Leary said of his team’s offensive production. “They were outstanding. They did everything they could to win this game for us.”
Trailing 12-5 after two full innings, the Hawks finally pitched a clean third and exploded for five runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning to make it a two-run game.
Lehigh put up one more insurance run in the fourth to take a three-run lead, then the teams battled back and forth, scoring two runs each in the fifth and sixth innings. The Mountain Hawks took a four-run lead in the seventh when Gajdos’ sacrifice fly scored Billy Swenson from third, but the Hawks completely erased the deficit with four runs in the bottom of the seventh, to tie the score at 18-18.
“They all knew that it was a rough day,” Leary said of his pitchers. “I just told them we have to figure out how to shut it down out there.”
When Austin Borden doubled home Swenson in the top of the ninth, it appeared the Mountain Hawks were still heading for victory. But once again the Hawks had an answer, and Joe Cook connected on a sacrifice fly to tie the score in the final frame.
The Mountain Hawks return to action on Saturday when they host Binghamton in a double-header starting at noon.