BETHLEHEM, Pa. – For the first time since 2006, the Lehigh baseball team swept a doubleheader from rival Lafayette as the Mountain Hawks took two games from the Leopards Saturday at the Baseball Field on Goodman Campus. Senior Andrew Berger threw a complete-game three-hitter as Lehigh won the opener 2-1 while the Mountain Hawk offense delivered five key two-out hits that led to seven runs in a 7-5 Lehigh victory. With the sweep Lehigh improves to 12-16 overall and 4-2 in the Patriot League.
“It’s just Patriot League games in some regard, but it’s Lafayette so our guys knew there would be a little extra energy on both sides,” said Lehigh head coach Sean Leary. “The most important thing I saw today was a gritty, competitive atmosphere from our guys and an attitude from our senior class.”
In game one, Lehigh went in front with two runs in the bottom of the second inning. With one out, junior Logan Winchester reached on the first of four Leopard errors in game one and then moved to third on a single by classmate Kevin Mihalik. Sean Killeen then laced a double into the gap in right center to score Winchester and Mihalik to give the Mountain Hawks a 2-0 lead.
Lafayette answered with a run in the top of the fourth on a Matt Fenster sacrifice fly to left field that scored Rob Froio, who reached on an error.
Berger took care of the rest of Lehigh en route to his third win of the season (3-0). The junior right hander allowed just the one unearned run on three hits while striking out five and walking zero. The Leopards had the tying run on base in the seventh inning on two occasions, but Alex Bechta was caught stealing and Justin Shepherd struck out swinging to end the game.
“That’s what your ace is supposed to do in game one,” said Leary. “He shut them down to just one run. It was a terrific effort and it sets the tone for the whole weekend.”
Mihalik had two of Lehigh’s five hits against Zach Fritz who took the loss for Lafayette.
The Leopards capitalized on two Lehigh errors to take an early 1-0 lead in the nightcap, but the Mountain Hawks went in front with two runs in the bottom of the third. Lehigh put two runners on with two singles and a fielder’s choice and with two out, junior Jim McConlogue doubled down the right field line to plate two runs and put the Mountain Hawks in front 2-1.
Lehigh tacked on another run in the fourth on a two-out RBI single by junior Brendan McGaheran and nearly broke the game open with three-more two out runs in the bottom of the fifth. The Mountain Hawks loaded the bases with two outs on a fielder’s choice and hit-by-pitch and a walk junior Chad Warga singled to center to score two runs. Ian Dickson then relieved starter Corey Shea and Brendan Pifer greeted him with a first pitch RBI single to right that made the score 6-1 in favor of the Brown and White.
Lafayette chased Lehigh starter Ken Longernecker from the game with two runs in the top of the sixth but the Mountain Hawks added a run on yet another two-out hit as Winchester went the other way for a single that brought home Billy Goldman.
The Leopards attempted one more rally in the ninth, plating two runs on a single by A.J. Pisarri, but sophomore Cory Kent came out of the bullpen with two outs and worked around an error to strike out Fenster to end the game and complete the doubleheader sweep.
Longernecker earned the win allowing three runs on six hits in five-plus innings as he improves to 4-1. Senior Rob Russell also added 3.2 innings of strong relief before Kent came in to register his third save of the season.
“We got all but one out from our seniors today,” explained Leary. I told them how proud I was for how hard they worked to get us back on track this year.”
McConlogue went 3-for-4 in the nightcap to lead Lehigh, which outhit Lafayette 11-8.
Lafayette falls to 6-19, 2-4 in the league with the losses.
Lehigh and Lafayette will wrap-up their series with another doubleheader Sunday beginning at noon on the Goodman Campus. The games will be broadcast online at Lehighsports.com with Matt Abramowitz and Chip Kasprzak.