DOVER, Del. – The Lehigh baseball team (3-10-1) jumped out to a 6-0 lead but that was soon erased. Lehigh retook the lead but Delaware State (10-6-1) again tied it up. The two went back and forth again until the eighth when Lehigh took a one-run lead. But Delaware State tied the game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. The teams played two more innings to try to settle things before the game was called due to darkness after 11 innings with the score knotted 11-11 on Wednesday.
The teams combined for 33 hits, 20 coming from the Mountain Hawks. All nine Lehigh starters had a hit while seven had at least two. Sophomore Tyler Brong was 4-for-6 with two RBIs and three runs scored to lead the way for Lehigh. Sophomore Joe Abeln was 3-for-5 with two RBIs, junior Casey Turner was 3-for-7 with two runs scored and one RBI and sophomore Brandon Wilt was 2-for-5 with two RBIs.
Lehigh was out to a 3-0 lead before Delaware State stepped to the plate. With runners on second and third and two outs, Brong hit a two-run double and Abeln followed with a RBI double. The Mountain Hawks came back in the top of the second with three more runs. Lehigh had runners on second and third with one out when freshman Justin Pacchioli hit a RBI single. Turner followed him with a RBI double and senior Joe Conaway reached on an error for a RBI.
Delaware State started to mount its comeback in the bottom of the second scoring three runs, all of which were unearned as the Hornets took advantage of two Lehigh errors. Lehigh had a chance to get those runs back in the top of the third as the Mountain Hawks loaded the bases with two outs, but were unable to extend its lead. In the bottom half of the inning, the Hornets scored three times on the first three batters of the inning to tie the game 6-6 after a leadoff home run, a walk and a two-run homer.
In the top of the fourth, the Mountain Hawks retook the lead after one-out RBI singles from Abeln and Wilt. Lehigh loaded the bases, still with one out, but were unable to do more damage after hitting into an inning-ending double play.
Delaware State came back to tie the game at 8-8 on a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the fourth.
For the third time in the game, Lehigh took the lead. In the top of the fifth with runners on first and third and two outs, the Mountain Hawks pulled off a double steal as Turner swiped home to give Lehigh a 9-8 advantage.
Lehigh’s lead was erased in the bottom of the fifth as Delaware State scored twice to pull ahead 10-9 after a one-out RBI double and RBI single. The Hornets loaded the bases but junior Thomas O’Malley pitched out of the jam inducing an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
The bats quieted down in the sixth and seventh as both teams went hitless before Lehigh scored two unearned runs in the top of the eighth to take an 11-10 lead. Conaway and Brong led off the inning with back-to-back singles and Abeln moved them over with a SAC bunt. Junior Brandon Sady reached on a fielder’s choice as Brong scored on an error by the second baseman. Wilt then brought in Conaway with an RBI bunt groundout back to the pitcher.
After Lehigh held Delaware State quiet in the bottom of the eighth, Lehigh had a chance for an insurance run in the top of the ninth. The Mountain Hawks had a runner on third with two outs, but couldn’t come up with the big hit.
In the bottom of the ninth, Delaware State was down to its final out with a runner on second, but the Hornets hit a game-tying RBI single to send the game to extra innings.
The Mountain Hawks had a chance in the 10th as Brong led off with a double and Abeln followed with a single. He then stole second as Lehigh had two runners in scoring position with nobody out. After a strikeout, Wilt laid down a safety squeeze but Brong was thrown out at the plate by the pitcher and a groundout a batter later ending the rally.
In the bottom half of the inning, Delaware State got its first two runners on after a single and hit-by-pitch. After a SAC fly moved the runners over, senior Brendan McGaheran threw out the potential game-winning run at home after a groundball to shortstop. With the bases loaded and two outs, senior Dan Ciccone ended the threat with a strikeout.
In the bottom of the 11th, the Hornets again put their first two runners on and again had second and third with one out. Sady – who came in for Ciccone to start the frame – got a strikeout and groundout to end the inning as the game ended in a tie.
The tie was Lehigh’s first since March 18, 2009 when the Mountain Hawks and Saint Joseph’s ended knotted at 19-19.
After struggling to find runs early in the season, Lehigh has now scored in double figures back-to-back games. It is the first time the Mountain Hawks have produced 10+ runs in consecutive games since April 22 in a doubleheader against Penn in which Lehigh scored 11 in a win and 10 in a loss.
Delaware State was paced by Aaron Nardone who was 3-for-5 with four RBIs and two runs scored.
Lehigh will look to keep its hot bats going this weekend when the Mountain Hawks return to Goodman Campus for their home opener. Lehigh will host Iona for a four-game set with double headers slated for noon and 2:30 on Saturday and Sunday.