Posted: May 13, 2006
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Senior Kyle Collina threw eight innings of three-hit baseball, striking out nine and retiring the last 18 batters he faced as Lehigh rolled past Bucknell 14-2 on Saturday afternoon in the first game of the Patriot League championship series at the baseball field on the Goodman Campus. With the win, the Mountain Hawks improve to 26-25 overall and are now just win away from their first-ever Patriot League Championship. The Bison, who defeated Lafayette earlier in the day, fall to 24-23 overall.
Lehigh wasted little time in getting on the board as Joe Ercolono, who earlier walked, scored on a double by junior Matt McBride in the bottom of the first for a quick 1-0 lead. Following that inning, there was an hour and 15-minute delay due to rain and lightning. After the delay, Bucknell touched Collina for its lone two runs in the top of the second, when Ryan Gryskevicz led off with a double and advanced to third on a ground out. Jason Buursma then singled Gryskevicz in to tie the game at one. Shawn Hirsh singled down the left field line two batters later, scoring Buursma and putting the visitors in front 2-1. That was the last offense the Bison would get off of Collina for the day however.
The Mountain Hawks came right back in their half of the second, as Mike Sandonato led off with a single and advanced to second on a ground out. After a walk to David Moscow, on which Sandonato stole third, Liam O’Connor brought a run home with a sac bunt, tying the game at two.
Lehigh then went ahead for good in the third when Andrew Smith, Nick Bet and Sandonato hit back-to-back-to-back doubles to go up 4-2. Moscow then scored Sandonato with a bunt single and Ercolono brought Moscow home with a double of his own, putting the Mountain Hawks up by a 6-2 count.
Lehigh would add two runs in the fifth, one in the sixth, three more in the seventh and two in the eighth. In all the Mountain Hawks banged out 17 hits and played flawless defense, committing zero errors on the afternoon. Collina’s record improves to 6-5 with the win, while Jacob Moss suffers the loss for the Bison, and sees his record goes to 4-3. Sandonato finished the day 3 for 5 at the plate with one RBI, while Smith also went 3 for 5 and drove home two.
Head coach Sean Leary offered his thoughts following the win. “We did the little things well, and we caught some breaks here today. Kyle got stronger as the game went on, and once he found his slider, [Bucknell] had a hard time figuring him out.” He then added, “We know it won't be this easy tomorrow."
Bucknell downed Lafayette earlier in the day by a score of 10-6 in a thrilling come from behind victory. The Bison found themselves down 6-0 after four and a half innings, but a six-hit seven run seventh inning propelled Bucknell into the championship series with Lehigh. The big blow was a grand slam by Gryskevics in that seventh inning which broke the six-six tie.
Lehigh and Bucknell will return to action on Sunday morning when the two teams get together at the baseball field on the Goodman Campus beginning at 11:00 AM. Should Bucknell win that game, the two teams will go back at it, 30 minutes following the completion of game one.