BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After a pair of come-from-behind wins on Saturday, Lehigh completed a four-game sweep of Niagara with a pair of wins Sunday afternoon at Kaufman Field. The Mountain Hawks took game one 8-1 and won the nightcap 6-4 to improve to 13-11 on the season and run their winning streak to a season-long five games.
The Mountain Hawks played from behind for most of Saturday’s twinbill, but started quickly on Sunday. Game one saw Lehigh take a 2-0 lead three batters into the bottom of the first inning, as junior Audra Wood reached on a two-base error and senior Alex Cueva reached on an infield single. Junior Julie Fernandez doubled to deep left field to bring home the first two runs of the game.
Niagara scored its lone run of the opener in the second inning as Kayla Hines led off with a triple and then scored on a single by Gabrielle Lustrinelli.
An error on a dropped pop-up allowed Lehigh to extend its lead in the bottom of the third as Cueva scored when Teresa Healy couldn’t make a catch on a looping pop-up off the bat of sophomore Liz Lucas.
The Mountain Hawks used their speed to tack on two runs in the fourth inning. With two outs, freshman Lizzy Odren was hit by a pitch, and then stole second base. Sophomore Rosie Roessel singled to move Odren to third. With Wood at the plate, Roessel stole second, and a throwing error on Becky Zill allowed Odren to score Lehigh’s sixth run.
Odren and Roessel combined to help the Mountain Hawks add three more runs in the fifth, as Odren was hit by a pitch for the second time, this time with the bases loaded. Roessel then followed with a two-run single that increased Lehigh’s lead to seven.
Both teams recorded six hits in the opener, with Fernandez leading Lehigh with two. The teams also had problems in the field on a sunny but cold and windy afternoon. Niagara committed four errors in game one, while Lehigh made three.
Freshman Ashley Quigley was strong in the circle, allowing one run on six hits in seven innings. Quigley walked three and struck out seven as she improved to 5-6 on the season. Kim Bryson took the loss for Niagara as allowing eight runs on six hits.
With Wood given game two off, Roessel moved into the leadoff spot and paid immediate dividends, as her leadoff base hit, a sinking line drive to center field got past the Purple Eagles centerfielder and went all the way to the wall. Roessel motored around the bases for an inside-the-park home run to give Lehigh the early 1-0 edge. The Mountain Hawks tacked on two more first-inning runs on a double to right by freshman Kristin Taft and a single through the left side by senior Carly Potock.
The Purple Eagles got on the board with a RBI double by Healy in the third, but Lehigh answered in the bottom of the frame as Taft led off the frame with a walk and after a sacrifice, came around to score on a double to left center by junior Tenley Halaquist.
Jaclyn Russell brought Niagara within one with a bases-loaded two-run single in the fourth, but Potock capped a big weekend at the plate with a two-out, two-run triple to right field in the fifth.
Healy’s fourth hit of the ballgame brought Niagara within two in the seventh inning, but with the tying run at the plate, sophomore Becca Bliss retired three straight batters to end the game.
Niagara out-hit Lehigh 11-7 in the nightcap, with Roessel, Halaquist and Potock accounting for six of the Mountain Hawks’ seven hits. Bliss picked up her team-leading sixth win of the season in the circle, striking out six Purple Eagles without issuing a walk as she moves to 6-2. Bri Allen took the loss for Niagara.
The Mountain Hawks will return to action on Wednesday when they travel to Fordham for a doubleheader in their final tune-up before Patriot League play begins next weekend. First pitch for game one is set for 3 p.m. from the Bronx, N.Y.