Posted: April 13, 2009
EASTON, Pa. – Lehigh suffered a heartbreaking 9-8 loss to archrival Lafayette on Monday afternoon at Kamine Field as the Leopards scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth to win their third straight over the Mountain Hawks. A.J. Pisarri hit a go-ahead three-run homer in that eighth inning to give Lafayette its first and only lead of the afternoon and improve the Leopards’ Patriot League record to 7-5. Andy Russell had a strong day at the plate for Lehigh, totaling three of the Mountain Hawks’ 13 hits, while Greg Angelo allowed just two earned runs in five and one-third innings on the hill, but had to settle for a no-decision.
“Greg (Angelo) had a solid outing that’s for sure,” Lehigh head coach Sean Leary said. “It’s unfortunate we could not finish it for him.”
Leary then offered his thoughts on Lehigh’s bats coming to life after struggling to score on Sunday. “It was nice to see our guys generate some offense today, and to see them swing the bats as well as they did. We certainly played well enough to win, but we just did not get outs when we needed to at the end of the game.”
Lehigh wasted no time in jumping all over the Leopards as Geoff Campbell singled to right field with one out in the first and came around when Russell stroked an RBI double. Russell then advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Kevin Mihalik infield single making it a 2-0 game. With two outs, Billy Swenson doubled down the right field line, and Billy Goldman followed with a single to right. That signaled the end of the day for Lafayette starter Ryan Hanna, bringing on Joe Verdon in relief. Jim McConlogue rudely welcomed him however, with a three-run round tripper to left field, increasing Lehigh’s lead to 5-0 after one-half inning of play.
Lafayette got on the board for the first time in the bottom of the third when Alex Betcha came around on a Pisarri single. Bechta had walked to get on base and moved over to second when Rob Froio also drew a walk.
The Mountain Hawks added to their lead with another run in the fifth inning. The two-out rally was started by Russell who singled to right field, moved to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a passed ball. Mihalik then ripped a single to center, plating Russell to give Lehigh a five-run advantage. The Leopards responded with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning as Froio scored on a Pisarri ground-out to second. Froio had reached on an error, advancing all the way to third on the miscue.
The Leopards then closed to within one with three runs in their half of the sixth. Matt Fenster got on with a pinch-hit single, and Bobby Fargnoli came in to pinch run for him. Cory Kent relieved Angelo for the Brown and White, but he hit the first batter he faced, Justin Shepherd. That put runners on first and second, and brought up A.J. Miller who hit an RBI double to left center, trimming Lehigh’s lead to 6-3.
Bechta reached on an error, which brought Shepherd around to make the score 6-4. After Kent struck out Froio, Pisarri singled to center, which drove home Bechta and cut the Mountain Hawks advantage to just one. Kent retired Dan Bierce however, ending the Leopards rally.
Logan Winchester gave the Mountain Hawks some breathing room in the top of the seventh with a home run to right field that also scored Mark Bernhard and put Lehigh up 8-5.
Kent started the eighth inning by walking Shepherd, and A.J. Miller followed with an RBI double to right center, scoring Shepherd to make the score 8-6. Ken Longernecker then came onto pitch for Lehigh and walked Bechta, putting runners on first and second. Froio attempted to move the runners over with a sacrifice bunt, but Longernecker fielded the bunt and threw out Miller at third.
That brought up Pisarri, who smacked a home run over the right field fence to give Lafayette its first lead of the day at 9-8. Longernecker regrouped and got the final two outs of the inning, sending Lehigh into the ninth with a chance to tie the game, but the Mountain Hawks were unable to stage a rally and fell just short versus their archrival.
Jeff Snell pitched three scoreless innings for Lafayette in relief, striking out two batters en route to earning his fourth win of the season, while Longernecker suffered the loss and falls to 1-2.
Lehigh returns to the diamond on Wednesday when the Mountain Hawks host the St. Joseph’s Hawks on the Goodman Campus. The first pitch is set for 3:30.