PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – After giving up a three-run lead in the sixth, the Lehigh baseball team (9-19-1, 2-2 PL) stormed back with three runs in the seventh en route to an 8-5 win over Temple (12-16, 0-3 A-10) Tuesday in the final game of the Liberty Bell Classic. All the runs in the decisive rally came with two outs as junior Casey Turner had the game-winning RBI single while freshman Conor Faust followed him up with a two-run single.
“We had a lot of clutch hits today,” said head coach Sean Leary. “Faust, Turner and [Joe] Conaway all had big RBIs and we got contributions up and down the lineup. It was a pretty productive day all around. It was great to see everybody contribute one-thru-nine.”
Lehigh produced 12 hits from seven different Mountain Hawks including five players with a multi-hit game. Senior Joe Conaway was 2-for-4 with 3 RBIs while Turner and Faust both finished 2-for-5 with two RBIs as the trio combined for seven of Lehigh’s eight RBIs. Seniors Brendan McGaheran and Ryan Gajdos also had two hits apiece.
Sophomore Mike Burke (1-0) picked up the win in relief, his first of the season. The Clark’s Summit, Pa. native pitched the game’s final 3.2 innings without allowing a hit or run.
“Mike threw outstanding today,” Leary said. “He pounded the strike zone and really kept us in the game and allowed us to retake the lead and then once we got ahead, held it for us.”
Temple got on the board with the game’s first run in the bottom of the first on a one-out RBI single while the Owls stranded two on base.
Lehigh took the lead in the top of the third, scoring a pair of runs. With one out, freshman Tim McKay reached on a throwing error by the third baseman and advanced to second. McGaheran than drove him in with a RBI single up the middle. After a fly out for the second out of the inning, sophomore Joe Abeln singled to put runners on first and third and senior Joe Conaway came up with a big two-out RBI single to give Lehigh a 2-1 lead.
Temple evened the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth on a pair of singles, SAC bunt and RBI groundout.
Lehigh responded with a three-run top of the fifth. The Mountain Hawks loaded the bases with one out on a two walks and a single for Conaway who delivered a two-run double down the left-field line and Turner followed that up with a RBI single to give Lehigh a 5-2 lead.
The Owls got a run back in the bottom half of the inning after a single, a failed pickoff attempt and throwing error by sophomore Colin Gotzon advanced the runner to second, a groundout to move him over to third and a RBI SAC fly.
Temple then scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth, its third straight inning with a run scored. The Owls put runners on second and third to start the inning after a single and double. A RBI groundout scored the runner from third and next batter hit a RBI single to tie the game. After another single, Temple pulled off a double steal to set up runners on second and third with one out but Lehigh got out of the jam without further damage.
After losing the lead in the sixth, Lehigh retook a three-run lead in its next at-bat, scoring three runs with two outs in the top of the seventh. With one out, Gajdos singled and Abeln reached on an error by the shortstop. Gajdos was then caught stealing third for the second out of the inning while Abeln stole second. Conaway earned a walk to put runners back on first and second. Turner singled up the middle to drive in Abeln for what would be the game-winning run. After Turner and Conaway each advanced a base on a wild pitch, Faust delivered a clutch two-run single to left field to give Lehigh an 8-5 lead as the Mountain Hawks held on in the final two innings for the win.
Gotzon started for Lehigh and pitched well, throwing 5.0 IP, allowing three runs on nine hits while striking out three.
Eric Peterson started for Temple and lasted 4.0 IP, allowing two runs on four hits with one strikeout and one walk. Ryan Kuehn (0-2) took the loss for Temple, allowing three runs – two earned – on five hits in 2.2 IP.
Temple had 13 hits in the game, led by a 3-for-4 day from Nick Lustrino while five different players had one RBI to account for the Owls’ five runs.
Tuesday’s game marked the 47th meeting between the schools as Lehigh is now 18-28-1 all-time vs. Temple.
Lehigh will look to use this momentum as it returns to action Wednesday when the Mountain Hawks host Delaware State. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m. You can follow updates of the game on www.twitter.com/lehighsports.