WILMINGTON, N.C. – The Lehigh baseball team fell behind early in both of its games on Saturday and couldn’t recover as it lost to Liberty 6-3 and Morehead State 8-4 in day two of the Hughes Bros. Challege. The Mountain Hawks gave up six runs within the first five innings of both games and couldn't get their offense going to attempt a comeback. With the losses Lehigh falls to 1-2 on the season, while Liberty improves to 5-0 and Morehead State up its record to 3-5.
“We got down early, but battled back and got the tying run to the plate in the ninth,” head coach Sean Leary commented on the first game. “Liberty was able to get out of the jam, but I thought we really competed well. (Jordan) Warncke pitched outstanding and kept us in the game, but we came up a hit short.”
Leary continued giving his thoughts on the second game, “We put ourselves in a hole early and we couldn’t take advantage of the chances we had. Morehead State was able to take advantage of its chances and came away with the win. One of the real bright spots of the trip has been our bullpen and we got another strong performance tonight.”
Taking the loss in the first game for the Brown and White was junior Kevin Mihalik who gave up all six runs in three innings of work. Mihalik (0-1) walked two and gave up six hits in the loss.
Junior Jim McConlogue had two of Lehigh’s five hits as the team struggled offensively. Junior Andrew Russell and sophomore Joe Conaway each knocked in one run.
Lehigh went to its bullpen early in the first game and it responded as the two pitchers combined to pitch six scoreless innings. Seniors Warncke and Rob Russell each pitched three innings and allowed only two hits to keep the Mountain Hawks in the game.
“Rob really battled out there and like I said I thought Warncke was outstanding today,” Leary commented.
Junior Keegan Linza (2-0) pitched seven strong innings to get the win for Liberty.
Liberty got on the board in the top of the second inning when junior Jerry Neufang hit a two-run home run to centerfield. The Flames picked up three more in the third and sophomore Matt Williams capped of their scoring with an RBI double in the fourth.
Conaway finally got Lehigh on the board as he singled home Russell in the bottom of the fourth. The Mountain Hawks got their final two runs in the bottom of the eighth, and in the ninth junior Sean Killeen came up as the tying run, but hit into a double play to end the game.
In game two Lehigh jumped out on top 2-0, but the Eagles got their offense rolling in the bottom of third. After a quick two outs, Morehead State got its next two hitters on and sophomore Taylor Davis delivered with a three-run home run.
The Mountain Hawks evened up the game at three in the top of the fifth when Mihalik blasted a solo home run down the left field line. The Eagles responded in the bottom of the inning as senior Michael Bottoms hit a two-run single and sophomore Lucas Bainer doubled in Davis to give them the 6-3 lead.
Lehigh added its final run in the top of the sixth off a Brendan McGaheran sac fly but Morehead State was able to add two more in the eighth and hold on for the victory.
Mihalik led the Brown and White as he went 3-for-5 from the plate as he rebounded from his rough outing on the mound in the first game. Junior Mike Lebo (0-1) took the loss for Lehigh as he went 4.2 innings, giving up seven hits and six runs.
Jeff Arnold picked up the win for Morehead State as he went 6.1 innings and struck out five batters.
The Mountain Hawks have one final game on Sunday before heading back home.
“We have to build on what we’ve done well and come back with a win tomorrow,” Leary said. We have to continue to work on the areas that we’re falling short in and look for a few more clutch hits.”
The Brown and White will finish off its stay in North Carolina with a rematch against Morehead State Sunday morning at 10 a.m.