Posted: April 28, 2007
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Playing in its final Patriot League series of the season, Lehigh was swept by Army in two intense games on Saturday afternoon on the Goodman Campus. The Mountain Hawks were edged out by the Black Knights 2-1 in the first game and then lost the second by a score of 9-5. The Mountain Hawks fall to 13-28-1 overall and 2-16 in league play, while Army improves to 18-19-1 overall and 9-7 in the Patriot League.
“I’m really proud of the effort the guys put forth today,” said head coach Sean Leary. “We played hard and did everything we could in both games, especially with Army having two great guys [Nick Hill and Milan Digna] on the mound in the first game.”
Lehigh and Army played through three scoreless innings in the first game. The Black Knights got on the scoreboard first when Cole White blasted a solo shot to right field. Army increased its lead to two in the fifth inning when Tony Capozzi scored from second off a Milan Digna single through the left side.
The Mountain Hawks cut Army’s lead to one in the sixth. Junior Joe Ercolano got the inning underway with a single through the right side. He would go on to steal second and eventually advanced to third off a wild pitch. Ercolano scored when senior Stephen Salemme grounded out to make it a 2-1 game.
Lehigh’s intensity continued into the seventh when junior pitcher Joe Matteo and the Mountain Hawk defense did not allow Army to register a hit in the top half of the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, sophomore Geoff Campbell hit a lead-off double to right center. Freshman Josh Harakal came in to pinch run for Campbell. The Mountain Hawks got two runners on base with freshman Billy Swenson being hit by a pitch. Classmate Danny Egly pinch ran for Swenson as junior Kyle Dunleavy made his way to the plate. Dunleavy hit into a fielder’s choice as Digna fielded the ball to Army third baseman J.P. Polchinski to get Harakal on the force out at third. Unfortunately for the Mountain Hawks, Ercolano lined out into a double play at second to end the game.
Junior Joe Matteo picked up the loss after pitching all seven innings. He recorded three strikeouts, but allowed two runs off four hits. Nick Hill earned the win as he fanned nine batters and allowed one run off five hits in six innings, while Dinga pitched the final inning for the save.
In the second game, Andy Ernesto hit an RBI double down the left field line in the second inning to give Army a 1-0 lead. The Black Knights pushed their lead to two in the top of the third, but Lehigh cut Army’s lead to one in the bottom portion of the inning. Ercolano made it on base with a lead-off single and then Salemme reached base due to an error by Matt Fouch. Another Army error allowed both Ercolano and Salemme to each advance one base. When sophomore Liam O’Connor fouled out to Bo Cipra at first base, Ercolano scored and Salemme moved to third. Senior Nick Bet doubled down the left field line to drive in Salemme and pull Lehigh to within one and make it a 3-2 game in favor of the Black Knights.
Army increased its lead to three with a two-run fourth inning, but the Mountain Hawks responded with a two runs in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Swenson hit a solo home run to right field. Freshman Christian Valeriano reached base with a single to left center. Valeriano stole second and continued to third off an error on Chris Simmons. Valeriano rounded third and headed towards home, where he beat out the play at the plate to make it a one run game.
However, the Black Knights erupted for four runs in the top of the seventh to distance themselves from Lehigh to take a 9-5 advantage. Lehigh trimmed Army’s lead in the bottom half of the seventh when Salemme scored off another double by Bet, but that would be as close as the Mountain Hawks would get.
Freshman Andrew Berger picked up the loss after he allowed three runs off four hits in three innings. Fouch pitched five innings and allowed four runs off five hits en route to his first win.
The Mountain Hawks close out the 2007 season on Sunday when they host Army in a doubleheader on Senior Day at the Goodman Campus. The first game is scheduled to start at noon with the second beginning approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.