Posted: April 16, 2006
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Lehigh junior catcher Matt McBride ripped three hits – including a grand slam – and drove home six runs as the Mountain Hawks completed a four-game sweep of host Navy with a 13-4 win at Max Bishop Stadium in game two of a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon. Earlier in the day, Lehigh topped Navy 7-3. The pair of wins gives the Mountain Hawks an 8-4 Patriot League record, and more importantly, sole possession of first place in the league standings with eight games remaining.
“This was the best overall execution for us all year,” said Lehigh head coach Sean Leary after the games. “Time after time we came up with the big play defensively and the clutch hit on the offensive end.”
Navy falls to 26-14-1 overall and 6-6 in the league.
McBride, the Patriot League’s leader in batting average (.449), home runs (8), and runs batted in (41), had quite a day. In the first game, McBride’s RBI double helped key a five-run fourth inning, as the Mountain Hawks went on to a 7-3 win.
However, McBride wasn’t the only offensive star for Lehigh in the first game, as junior right fielder Nick Bet went 4-for-4 with a triple and three runs scored in the win. Sophomore center fielder Joe Ercolano collected a pair of hits, driving in a run and scoring another for the Brown and White. In all, the Mountain Hawks pounded 13 hits in the first game.
On the mound in the opener, sophomore Joe Matteo pitched six innings-plus, striking out three, to earn the win. Freshman Geoff Campbell recorded the game’s final three outs to preserve the win. Matteo’s record improves to 4-3 with the victory.
Game two proved to be The Matt McBride Show. The junior standout finished a triple shy of the cycle as Lehigh rallied from a big deficit to pick up the comeback win and the series sweep.
Navy scored a run in the second and three more in the third to take a quick four-nothing lead. In the fifth, a sacrifice fly from Ercolano plated David Moscow with Lehigh’s first run of the game, making the score 4-1.
The sixth inning began innocently enough, with a McBride single to center. First baseman Andrew Smith doubled home McBride, and then Bet singled home Smith to draw Lehigh within a run at 4-3. Two outs later, second baseman Mike Sandonato singled home Bet to tie the score at 4-4. Shortstop Liam O’Connor singled to right field, plating Sandonato with the go-ahead run. Three batters later, McBride belted a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left for a grand slam, his eighth homer of the season, to give Lehigh an insurmountable 9-4 lead.
McBride added a two-run double in the eighth and later scored himself as the Mountain Hawks put the game out of reach.
O’Connor was 4-for-5 with two runs scored, two runs batted in, and three stolen bases in the win. Smith added a pair of hits and two RBIs, and Sandonato had two hits for the Brown and White.
Lehigh was 5-for-5 on the base paths Sunday, with four of the thefts by O’Connor.
Freshman Leland Weisband pitched four and a third scoreless innings to pick up his first win of the season. Weisband (1-0) struck out five and did not walk a batter in shutting down the Navy offense.
Lehigh (18-21 overall, 8-4 PL) now holds a slim one game lead over Bucknell and Lafayette in the Patriot League standings. The Bison and Leopards are both 7-5. Lehigh will host Lafayette in a pivotal series next weekend.
The Mountain Hawks return to the diamond on Monday, when Lehigh hosts Coppin State. First pitch is set for 3:30 pm from the baseball field on Goodman Campus in Bethlehem.