Posted: April 7, 2005
Bethlehem, PA – Defending Liberty Bell Classic champion Lehigh advanced to the tournament final for the second straight year as the Mountain Hawks topped La Salle 13-11 in a wild, marathon game at Lehigh’s Goodman Field on Thursday afternoon. The victory propels Lehigh into the Liberty Bell Classic final, where the Mountain Hawks will take on Villanova for the second straight year. The 2005 LBC final will be played on Wednesday, April 13, at 7:00 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
“We’re excited to have the opportunity to defend our championship,” said Lehigh head coach Sean Leary following the win. “A game like this one always comes down to whose pitching settles in, and today was no different.”
With a strong southwest wind blowing out to right field, the semifinal had the makings of an offensive classic. The two teams didn’t disappoint. The Explorers built a 4-0 lead in the second inning off of Lehigh starter Billy Alec. Up 1-0 with nobody on and two outs, La Salle mounted a rally that was capped off by a three-run homer to right by center fielder Ryan Parfit.
After the first four Mountain Hawks were set down in order, left fielder Andrew Smith unloaded on a Craig Mushko pitch deep over the wall in right for his Patriot League-leading seventh home run of the season.
Down 6-1 in the third, first baseman Matt McBride, designated hitter Forrest Doane, and Smith registered back-to-back-to-back RBI singles to cut the deficit to 6-4.
In the home half of the fourth, the Mountain Hawks exploded to put a five-spot on the board, taking a 9-6 lead. Doane doubled home two runs in the frame in putting the Mountain Hawks on top.
The Explorers (10-15) refused to go away, scoring three times in the top of the sixth to tie the game at 9-9. La Salle left fielder George Hudock hit his second home run of the afternoon in the frame.
La Salle went ahead 11-9 in the top of the seventh, but that lead was short-lived. The Mountain Hawks scored four unanswered runs to secure the come-from-behind victory.
After a rocky start, the Lehigh bullpen settled down and pitched quite well. In particular, freshman Andrew Grim was spectacular. He pitched the game’s final three innings – retiring all nine batters he faced to earn his first win. Grim struck out four batters en route to the victory.
Offensively, the Mountain Hawks scored a season-high 13 runs while tying their season high for hits with 17. Doane led the charge, going three-for-four on the afternoon with two doubles and four runs batted in. Smith was three-for-three with a homer and three driven in. Center fielder Joe Ercolano was three-for-five with a double and three runs scored in the victory.
In all, the two teams combined for 24 runs, 29 hits, four errors, and six home runs.
Lehigh (13-11-1) returns to action Saturday, when the Mountain Hawks open a four-game Patriot League series against Bucknell. First pitch of game one of the twinbill Saturday is set for 12:00 pm.