SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Lehigh baseball team (2-7) had eight hits to San Jose State’s seven, but the Mountain Hawks fell 8-4 to the Spartans (5-8) Thursday in the first game of the Jack Gifford Memorial Tournament. Lehigh was down early, but showed no quit scoring four times in the final four innings. Junior Casey Turner and sophomore Tyler Brong each had one RBI while junior Alex Jacquez hit a two-run homer, his first of the year.
SJSU scored at least one run in the second, third and fourth inning and then three more in the fifth to take a 6-0 lead. The Spartans got on the board first with an unearned run without a hit in the top of the second. SJSU’s Zach Jones led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a SAC bunt. After an error which put runners on first and third with one out, the Spartans produced a run with an RBI safety squeeze.
In the top of the third, SJSU tacked on a run with a two-out solo home run from Nick Schulz for the game’s first hit.
For the third straight inning, the Spartans scored a single run. SJSU got a one-out single by Jacob Valdez who then scored on a double by Matt Carroll, who was thrown out at second after getting caught up between second and third.
The Spartans opened things up in the top of the fifth after a pair of hit batters. With one out and runners on first and second, junior Thomas O’Malley came into the game in relief to try to get out of the jam but gave up a three-run homer to Schulz, his second of the game.
Lehigh – which managed just two hits through the game’s first five innings – finally put together a rally in the bottom of the sixth with a pair of runs. With one out, freshman Justin Pacchioli reached on a throwing error by the third baseman and Turner drove him in with a double down the left-field line. After a ground out, Brong singled through the right side of the infield to drive in Turner. Brong then stole second, but Lehigh was unable to come up with the two-out hit.
SJSU got those two runs back however in the next half inning, again scoring without a hit. O’Malley walked the first two batters of the inning before senior Dan Ciccone replaced him on the mound. Ciccone got the dangerous Schulz to strikeout but both runners advanced on a wild pitch during the next at-bat. SJSU drove in the first runner with a SAC fly while the runner from second advanced to third on the play. He then scored on a throwing error by senior Brendan McGaheran.After a stolen base, a walk and a hit-by-pitch, SJSU loaded the bases with two outs, but Ciccone was able to get out of the jam without further damage.
The Mountain Hawks showed no quit however as they scored two more runs in the bottom of the eighth to cut the deficit in half. Pacchioli led off with a single and after Turner flied out, Jacquez lined a three-run homer over the left field fence for his first of the year. His three RBIs now tied junior Ryan Gajdos for the team lead with four.
Sophomore Mike Burke shut down SJSU over the final two innings, allowing just one hit. In the bottom of the ninth, Lehigh tried to spark a rally as senior Chad Warga hit a one-out single, his third hit of the game. After a strikeout, he advanced to second to stay out of the force play, but the Mountain Hawks were unable to complete the comeback.
Sophomore Nick Cassell took the loss (1-2) as he gave up four earned runs on four hits in 4.1 innings.
Johnny Melero earned the win for SJSU, going 8.0 innings, allowing two earned runs on seven hits while striking out seven. Schulz finished the game 2-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs scored.
Lehigh will look to rebound tomorrow with a doubleheader at Santa Clara. The Mountain Hawks will face Utah first at 4 p.m. followed by host Santa Clara at 9 p.m. Live stats will be available for both games while live audio will be available on Lehighsports.com for the second game.