Posted: 04/06/2012 | Last updated: April 6, 2012 at 11:35 AM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Coming off a pair of midweek non-league wins, the Lehigh baseball team (10-19-1, 2-2 PL) will resume Patriot League play this weekend as the Mountain Hawks travel to West Point for a pair of doubleheaders against Army (19-8, 4-0 PL). First pitch Saturday is set for noon while Easter Sunday action will get underway at 1 p.m. Live audio will be available for Sunday’s games on Lehighsports.com.
The Mountain Hawks are riding consecutive wins after defeating Temple 8-5 Tuesday in Philadelphia before defeating Delaware State 3-2 on Goodman Campus Wednesday.
After giving up a three-run lead in the sixth, Lehigh stormed back with three runs in the seventh to beat Temple in the final game of the Liberty Bell Classic. All the runs in the decisive rally came with two outs as junior Casey Turner had the game-winning RBI single while freshman Conor Faust followed him up with a two-run single.
While Lehigh’s offense was the story Tuesday, it was the Mountain Hawks’ pitching that led them to victory Wednesday. Freshman Rene Tato (1-0) earned his first collegiate victory, going 6.0 innings without allowing an earned run. Sophomore Joey McNamara and senior Dan Ciccone each pitched a scoreless relief inning before senior Cory Kent earned his third save of the season and his 21st of his career, which ranks #3 all-time in the Patriot League.
Offensively, Lehigh has three players hitting above .300. Sophomore Tyler Brong leads the way hitting .309 while Faust is right behind him batting .308 and senior Brendan McGaheran has a .303 batting average. McGaheran leads the team with 33 hits, 21 runs scored, 43 total bases, two home runs and 11 stolen bases.
Kent, who will get the ball game one Saturday, continues to pace the staff with a 2.70 ERA in nine appearances. He is 1-2 and of his four starts, three are seven-inning complete games. He leads the team with 34 strikeouts in a team-leading 33.1 IP.
Lehigh split its first Patriot League series of the season with Lafayette last weekend as the Mountain Hawks swept the first (3-1, 10-2) day prior dropping both games the second day (8-6, 8-1).
The Mountain Hawks currently sit in third place in the league as they take on the first-place Army Black Knights, which swept defending Patriot League Champion Navy in the first weekend of play. The Black Knights have won nine of their last 11 and are coming off an 18-11 loss to Manhattan which ended a four-game winning streak. In that game, Army held a commanding 10-5 lead after the third inning but then allowed three in the sixth, six in the seventh and three more runs in the eighth.
Harold Earls leads the Army offense, batting a team-high .381 with 32 hits and 11 RBIs. Kevin McKague leads the team in both RBIs (23) and hits (36) while maintaining a .371 average. Seven Black Knights are hitting .280 or better for the season. Four hitters rank in the Patriot League’s top six in batting average.
Army has been led this season by a pitching staff that tops the Patriot League with a 3.61 ERA. Junior RHP Chris Rowley is coming off his third Patriot League Pitcher of the Week award, is 6-0 with a 1.38 ERA and leads Army with 35 strikeouts and 45.2 innings pitched.
Rowley will duel Kent in game one Saturday while the Mountain Hawks will take on sophomore LHP Nick Dignacco (2-2, 4.23 ERA) in game two. He will be opposed by sophomore RHP Nick Stephens (1-3, 5.52 ERA). Lehigh will face another LHP in Logan Lee (2-1, 3.79 ERA) in game one Sunday and the game two starter is TBA. The Mountain Hawks will send sophomore RHP Nick Cassell (1-5, 6.32 ERA) and freshman RHP Jordan Smith to the hill Sunday (2-2, 6.98 ERA).
While Army’s starters have had success this season, so has its relievers, led by Manny Fernandez and McKague. Fernandez features a 1.26 ERA with a team-high 11 appearances while McKague boasts a 0.96 ERA and five saves in eight appearances. McKague now has 27 career saves which ties him for the all-time Patriot League lead.
Army and Lehigh have met 103 times since the series began in 1893. Lehigh is 35-68 all-time vs. Army while the Mountain Hawks took three out of four games during last year's regular-season series on Goodman Campus.
Live stats and a live video stream will be available via www.goARMYsports.com for all four games while you can listen to Sunday’s doubleheader live on Lehighsports.com.