BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Pitching was once again the story as Lehigh and Harvard wrapped up their four game series with a doubleheader Sunday at Kaufman Field. Junior Rebecca Bliss fired her third shutout of the week, a three-hitter as Lehigh took Sunday’s opener 2-0, but Harvard captured the nightcap 1-0 in nine innings as Laura Ricciardone edged freshman Emily Bausher.
The teams split the four game series after splitting a doubleheader on Saturday as well. Lehigh and Harvard were so closely matched that both teams totaled four runs in the four games. Lehigh is now 13-13 on the season, while Harvard is 12-6.
“In terms of preparing us for Patriot League play we couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Lehigh head coach Fran Troyan. “Harvard is an outstanding, well-coached team. We met the challenge pretty well and were very close to being able to win the series. Hopefully there are some lessons in there that will allow us to get better as a team.”
Bliss successfully kept the Crimson at bay for the second straight day as she picked up her third win of the week to improve to 4-5 on the season. She allowed just three hits, including two infield singles and faced two batters over the minimum, striking out two and walking none. In three starts this week, Bliss threw a four-hitter against Penn and then a two-hitter and a three-hitter in back to back games against Harvard.
Lehigh had six hits against Harvard ace Rachel Brown, but early on was unable to capitalize. Junior Rosie Roessel led off the game with a triple down the left field line but was thrown out at the plate trying for the inside-the-park home run. Senior Julie Fernandez led off the second inning with a double, her seventh of the season and the school record-tying 49th of her career.
The Mountain Hawks finally broke through against Brown in the bottom of the fifth inning. Senior Tenley Halaquist led off with a single and junior Kristen Mitchell moved pinch runner Lizzy Odren to second base with a sacrifice bunt. Roessel grounded out to second, moving Odren to third and with two outs, senior Audra Wood grounded a single under the glove of Crimson shortstop Jane Alexander scoring Odren to give Lehigh a 1-0 lead. Senior Jen Colquhoun with a double to deep left scoring Wood to give the Mountain Hawks a two run advantage.
Bliss took care of the rest, retiring six of the final seven batters over the final two innings to lock down the win.
In game two Ricciardone and Bausher matched zeroes through the first eight innings. Bausher worked out of jams in the second, fifth and sixth innings, including a first-and-third one out situation in the fifth. Lehigh had just three hits through the first six innings, but the Mountain Hawks had runners on first and second with one out in the seventh, before Ricciardone got freshman Emma Capetz to line out to center and Bausher to ground out to second to end the threat.
Harvard’s Shelbi Olson led off the ninth with a double down the left field line and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Emily Gusse then brought Olson home with the only run of the game on an RBI ground out to second base.
Fernandez and junior Liz Lucas led off the bottom of the ninth with back-to-back singles, but Gusse helped kill the threat by starting a 4-6-3 double play on a ground ball hit by freshman Cassie Waggy. Ricciardone then got Capetz to ground out to first to end the game.
Bausher took the loss allowing a run on five hits in nine innings, walking two and striking out nine as she drops to 6-7. Ricciardone earned the win scattering eight hits in nine innings, striking out two and walking none.
“Becca and Emily both pitched outstanding this weekend,” Troyan said. “That bodes well for us heading into league play next weekend.”
Fernandez led Lehigh at the plate with three of the Mountain Hawks’ eight hits in the nightcap.
The Mountain Hawks will return to action on Wednesday when they host Fordham in a doubleheader at Kaufman Field. First pitch for game one is set for 3 p.m. with audio coverage online at Lehighsports.com.