Posted: April 3, 2007
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – A ten-run first inning propelled the Mountain Hawks past Temple on Tuesday in the semifinals of the Liberty Bell Classic as Lehigh cruised to a 14-4 victory on the Goodman Campus. Eight different Mountain Hawks tallied runs in the first inning as Lehigh advances to the Liberty Bell Classic final for the third time in four years. Lehigh, 11-12-1 overall, faces archrival Lafayette in the tournament’s championship game held at Citizens Bank Park Tuesday, April 10 at 8:00 pm.
“It was a great advantage for us to have a big first inning,” said head coach Sean Leary. “In the last few games, we had struggled in the first couple of innings and found ourselves behind. It was a nice change.”
Continues Leary, “[Junior] Joe Matteo did a terrific job for us on the mound today and it was great to see him pitch really well.”
Juniors Joe Ercolano and Liam O’Connor led the Mountain Hawks with two runs each in the first inning as Lehigh took advantage of three Temple errors to score ten runs on just four hits. Ercolano got the scoring underway when sophomore Matt Reitz hit a sacrifice fly to center field. From that point on, it was complete Mountain Hawk offense as Lehigh, with one out, reeled off nine runs before the Owls got the final two outs to end the inning.
The Mountain Hawks added three more runs to their lead in the third. Senior Nick Bet doubled to left field that allowed freshman Josh Harakal and Ercolano to both score. Then Reitz’s single up the middle drove in O’Connor as Lehigh took a commanding 13-0 lead.
Freshman Glenn Seitz had Lehigh’s final run as he belted his first collegiate home run to right field in the seventh.
Temple’s offense got started in the eighth with a Tom Dolan two-run single up the middle that scored Matt Heltz and Stan Orzechowski. A wild pitch allowed Dolan to add the Owls’ third run, while Sean Barksdale tallied the game’s final run off a Matt Kelch sacrifice fly to right field.
Matteo earned his first win of the season. In four innings, he faced 16 batters, struck out four and allowed four hits. Rob Chamra picked up the loss after he allowed nine runs in 0.1 of an inning.
In the other Liberty Bell Classic semifinal, Lafayette defeated Penn 10-2 at the Class of 1978 Stadium in Easton. Leading 4-2, the Leopards used a five-run fifth inning to distance themselves from the Quakers en route to securing a second-straight trip to the Liberty Bell Classic finals.
“It just adds something extra to the tournament,” said Leary. “It is already a thrill to be playing at Citizens Bank Park. But when it’s against your archrival, it just makes the experience more special.”
Also on Tuesday, Lehigh earned four honorable mentions in the Patriot League’s weekly awards as Ercolano, senior David Moscow and freshmen Greg Angelo and Billy Swenson were recognized for their performances last week.
The Mountain Hawks return to action on Wednesday night at Limeport Stadium when they host Penn at 6:00 pm. For fans unable to make it to Limeport Stadium, the game will air on Service Electric 2 Sports in the Lehigh Valley on Thursday, April 5 at 3:00 pm. Jeff Tourial and Steve Lomangino will call the action.