Posted: May 14, 2005
West Point, NY – The Lehigh baseball program has always prided itself on winning games with pitching and defense. The Mountain Hawks however, struggled with the latter on Saturday afternoon and it cost them as the Brown and White committed five errors in a 6-2 loss to Army in the first game of the best-of-three Patriot League Championship Series at Doubleday Field. After winning its opening game of the Patriot League Tournament 5-2 over Bucknell, Lehigh yielded five unearned runs, and could only muster two runs on four hits against Black Knights starter Nick Hill, as they fall to 26-20-1 on the season. Army improves to 36-11.
The Mountain Hawks fell into an early hole against the Black Knights as their defense committed an error in each of the first three innings, which Army converted into five runs. Army scored two runs on a pair of sacrifice flies before Lehigh tied the game in the top of the third. Sophomore Matt McBride got Lehigh on the board with a sacrifice fly, then senior Forrest Doane delivered an RBI single to score freshman Joe Ercolano and tie the game at two.
Army would take the lead for good in the bottom of the frame, as the Black Knights took advantage of Lehigh’s third fielding miscue with another sac fly and a pair of run-scoring singles off of Mountain Hawks starter Jack Muscalus, who did not finish the inning.
After a rough start Nick Hill, the Patriot League Pitcher of the Year calmed down and shut down the Lehigh offense, yielding two runs on just four hits in eight innings of work. The Black Knights also tacked on another unearned run off of Joe Ranizewski who provided four and a third innings of solid relief.
“Nick Hill pitched a great game,” said head coach Sean Leary after the second game. “On our part, the errors were a little uncharacteristic, in a game this big some of the guys may have been pressing.”
Earlier in the day, the Mountain Hawks advanced to the championship series, behind a strong performance from Kyle Collina. The junior hurled seven and two-thirds innings allowing two runs on five hits, walking three and tying a career high with eight strikeouts. Mike Sandonato reached base all four times including an RBI single. He also scored two runs. McBride added two key insurance runs with a two-run single in the seventh. John Zaszewski came in from third base to retire the last four batters and save the Mountain Hawks 5-2 victory.
The Patriot League Championship Series continues Sunday afternoon at Doubleday Field. Army and Lehigh will play game two at noon; the Black Knights can clinch the tournament championship with a victory. If the Mountain Hawks win, the teams will play a deciding third game immediately following game two on Sunday afternoon. All of Lehigh’s postseason games will be broadcast on the Lehigh website at lehighsports.com with streaming provided by Yahoo! Sports.