SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Lehigh baseball team (2-10) was unable to overcome an early deficit as the Mountain Hawks fell 14-2 to Columbia (2-4) Saturday in the final game of the Jack Gifford Memorial Tournament. The Mountain Hawks’ first hit came in the fifth and their two runs came in the eighth on RBIs from senior Joe Conaway and senior Cory Kent. Lehigh will return to the East Coast for a pair of midweek games and its home opener next weekend.
Lehigh dug itself into a hole before even stepping up to the plate as Columbia scored four runs, two with two outs in the top of the first on four hits.Columbia tacked on a run in the second after a pair of walks, a balk to advance the runners and a single. The Lions then scored a run again in the fourth with two outs after a walk and single put runners on first and third. The runner on first attempted to steal second, was caught in a rundown which then allowed the runner from third to score.
In the fifth, Columbia scored a run again on a pair of hits and a SAC fly to take a 7-0 lead.
Lehigh finally picked up its first hit of the game thanks to a junior Brandon Sady single to lead off the bottom of the fifth. He was soon erased however after a fly out and inning-ending double play.
Columbia continued to extend its lead with five more runs in the sixth, three coming with two outs. A double, a walk and then an errant throw on a pickoff attempt gave the Lions runners on second and third with one out. A single brought in a pair of runs and after a flyout, Columbia scored three more runs on a pair of singles and a double.
Lehigh had a chance for runs in the bottom of the sixth. A walk, single and a Columbia error and the Mountain Hawks loaded the bases with one out. But Lehigh squandered its opportunity with a strikeout and fielder’s choice.
After Columbia scored a run in the seventh, the Mountain Hawks finally got on the board with a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth. With one out, junior Alex Jacquez singled and Conaway drove him in with a double. Conaway advanced to third on a groundout and Kent drove him in with a two-out, pinch hit single.
The Lions scored one more in the top of the ninth. The Mountain Hawks put a couple runners on in their final at-bat on a freshman Conor Faust double and junior Casey Turner single - his second hit of the day - but Lehigh came up empty.
Sophomore Nick Stephens took the loss (0-2), lasting 1.1 innings and allowing five runs on four hits.
David Speer earned the win (1-0) with six shutout innings, allowing just two hits while striking out six. Offensively, the Lions were paced by Dario Pizzano who went 4-for-4 with four RBIs and Robb Paller who was 3-for-5 with five RBIs.
The game marked Lehigh’s final one of its eight-game California spring break trip. The Mountain Hawks will return to the East Coast for a pair of midweek games at Coppin State Tuesday at 3 p.m. and at Delaware State the following day at 3 p.m.
Lehigh will return to Goodman Campus for its home opener in a four-game series vs. Iona on March 17 and 18.