Posted: March 22, 2009
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh brought the tying or winning run to the plate in the final inning of both games on Sunday, but the Mountain Hawks fell short in each game against Binghamton. Lehigh finishes the weekend series with a 1-3 record and falls to 4-18-1 on the year. The Bearcats improve to 6-7 on the season with the win.
"The hardest part is that we didn't play our best game in the first few innings of either game but our team continued to battle," Lehigh head coach Sean Leary said. "I was pleased with the effort from the team. We just have to execute a little better so we're not in situaitons where we need to make a comeback."
The Mountain Hawks rallied in the seventh of the opening game, but could not overcome a four-run deficit, falling 5-3 to the Bearcats. Greg Angelo (0-2) took the loss for the Mountain Hawks, throwing 3.2 innings and giving up five runs – three earned. The junior lefty struck out three batters and walked four in his second loss of the season.
James Giulietti pitched into the seventh inning to earn the win, coming out after allowing the first two batters to reach base in the final inning. Giulietti gave up two runs – one earned – and struck out five batters and walking none to lead the Bearcats.
"He had a unique arm angle and was spotting the ball really well," Leary said. "He did a good job moving the ball inside and outside to keep our hitters at bay."
The Bearcats jumped on Angelo in the second inning, scoring two runs to take the early lead. Joe Charron doubled to center to drive in thee first run, and Mark Simone singled up the middle on the next play to drive Charron home for the second run.
A Jeff Skelhorne-Grosse single drove home the third run in the third, and a double by Kyle Klee in the fourth plated two more runs to extend the lead to 5-0 through 3.5 innings.
The Mountain Hawks bats woke up in the fourth when Andy Russell knocked in Billy Goldman with a ground out to break the ice. However, neither team would score again until the bottom of the seventh inning.
Luke Porter pitched 3.1 shutout innings of relief to keep the Brown and White in the game. In both games on Sunday, the Lehigh bullpen combined to throw 7.1 innings without giving up a single earned run.
"I thought our bullpen was outstanding today," Leary said. "All the guys who came in were terriffic. They really did a good job of keeping us in those ballgames."
Lehigh needed four runs in the final frame to tie the score, and the Mountain Hawks put up a valiant effort, scoring two before falling just short. With two outs and a runner on, Brendan Pifer and Pat Groome connected on back-to-back doubles to score two late runs. With the tying run at the plate, in the form of pinch hitter Joe Conaway, Greg Lane bore down and recorded the save by getting Conaway to ground out back to the mound.
The Bearcats grabbed an early lead in game two as well, as they held on for a 6-3 victory. Kevin Mihalik earned the loss, going 5.0 innings and giving up five runs, although only two were earned. Geoff Campbell led the way in the second game, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.
The Bearcats scored two unearned runs in the first to take another early lead. Klee drove in his third run of the day with a single, and one more unearned run gave Binghamton a 4-0 lead in the third.
The Mountain Hawks did not give up, scoring one in the third on Campbell’s RBI double, and two more in the sixth on a single by Ryan Gajdos and a sacrifice bunt by Mike Laychur.
Lehigh loaded the bases in the ninth, with the winning run at the plate, hoping again to stage a final-inning rally. But Ryan Gajdos struck out looking for the final out, as Lane recorded his second save of the afternoon. The Mountain Hawks won just one of the four games in the weekend series with Binghamton, but all three losses were a play or two away from going the other way, Leary said.
"It's not going to be easy, but we have to find out how to make that one extra good play to win a ballgame, because that's really all it was this weekend," Leary said. "We had a chance to win every game."
Lehigh returns to action on Tuesday, when it travels to Villanova at 3:15 p.m.