Posted: 04/21/2012 | Last updated: April 21, 2012 at 07:26 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh baseball team (16-29-1, 4-12 PL) dropped the final two games of the series to Holy Cross (26-17, 11-5 PL) Saturday, as the Mountain Hawks fell 3-1 in game one and 16-5 in game two. Lehigh brought the winning run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh in game one but the rally fell short while the Mountain Hawks produced 13 hits in game two. It was also senior day as Lehigh’s seven seniors were honored before the doubleheader.
“It’s difficult because right now we are in a position where we have to pick up those close games and we played very well in the first game,” said head coach Sean Leary. “Dan Ciccone pitched a terrific ball game in relief and that was a tough one we would have liked to pull out. We played three really close games this weekend and only won one of them and in game two, they just started hitting.”
Junior Casey Turner went 4-for-7 with a pair of doubles and two runs scored on the afternoon while freshman Conor Faust was 4-for-8 and sophomore Tyler Brong was 3-for-6. Turner and Brong each had an RBI while senior Brendan McGaheran hit a three-run homer in game two. Senior Dan Ciccone was stellar in relief in game one, throwing 5.1 innings and allowing just one run while striking out five.
McGaheran scored two runs on the day to give him 141 for his career to tie him with Jesse Novalis ‘04 for the Lehigh all-time record.
“It’s an emotional day for them,” Leary said. “It is the last time they will play at home in a regular season league series. We have had contributions from all of them and I am really proud of their effort this year. It’s just disappointing today that it didn’t go as well as we had hoped for them.”
In the top of the first, Holy Cross scored two runs on one hit to take an early lead. With two outs, the Crusaders earned a hit-by-pitch and walk. Then on a base hit to left field, the ball took a bad hop that went over the left fielder’s head, as the ball rolled all the way to the wall for a two-run triple.
Holy Cross tacked on a third run in the top of the second, as the Crusaders again scored with two outs. With runners on first and second, the Crusaders drove in a run with a two-out RBI single.
Lehigh got a run back in the bottom of the second after Turner hit a one-out double and Faust drove him in with a RBI single to cut the deficit to 3-1 after two innings.
In the bottom of the fourth, Lehigh threatened with two on and two out after Turner and freshman John Elson hit consecutive singles. But the Mountain Hawks were unable to take advantage.
The Mountain Hawks rallied again in the bottom of the fifth. After sophomore Brandon Wilt reached on a bunt single, McGaheran lined a single to the right side but the ball hit Wilt for the second out. Gajdos then reached on an error to put two on and two out, but again, Lehigh couldn’t come up with the two-out RBI.
In the top of the seventh, Holy Cross looked to extend its lead with runners on first and second with one out. Sophomore Nick Cassell then came in and struck out the cleanup hitter and got a ground ball to second on the next batter to get out of the jam.
Freshman Lance Kirschenbaum led off the bottom of the seventh with a pinch-hit single, bringing the tying run to the plate. After a fielder’s choice, Holy Cross brought in its closer to face the top of Lehigh’s order. McGaheran earned a walk to bring the winning run to the plate. With Gajdos at the plate, the runner on second was then caught stealing by the pitcher for the second out and a grounded ended the game as Lehigh’s valiant comeback attempt fell just short.
Lehigh finished the game with eight hits, five coming from Turner (3-fo-3) and Faust (2-for-3). Junior Thomas O’Malley (1-1) suffered the loss, allowing two runs in 1.0 inning, but it was Ciccone who came in and did a great job in relief to give Lehigh a chance to comeback.
Nate Koneski (5-2) earned the win for Holy Cross with 6.1 IP, allowing one run and striking out seven. John Colella got the final two outs of the game to earn his ninth save of the season. The Crusaders had six hits on the game, two from Brandon Cipolla while Chris Sintetos’ two-run triple was the difference in the game.
In game two, Holy Cross again got out to an early lead as the Crusaders led off the game with a home run.
Lehigh came right back though to tie the game in the bottom half of the inning. With one out, Gajdos singled and stole out. Then after a lineout, Brong came up with a clutch two-out RBI single to right field.
The Crusaders retook the lead in the top of the second, scoring four runs on five hits. Holy Cross started the inning with three straight hits, a double followed by a pair of singles. With one out, the Crusaders scored two more runs on a single and groundout before a RBI triple, but Lehigh’s defense did a great job to throw the runner out at the plate trying to stretch it to an inside-the-park home run.
Holy Cross then tacked on a run in the top of the third on a solo home run. The Crusaders scored again in the fourth, scoring two runs with two outs.
In the bottom of the fourth, Lehigh put together a rally. Turner led off with a double and Faust singled to put runners on first and third. With junior Brandon Sady at the plate, Turner scored on a wild pitch as Sady walked, still with nobody out. But Lehigh was unable to do any more damage in the inning as Lehigh trailed 8-2.
Holy Cross scored four more runs in the top of the fifth, on three hits while taking advantage of four hit-by-pitches.
The Crusaders added a run in the top of the sixth on a solo home and the Crusaders used the long ball again in the top of the seventh with a three-run homer, scoring at least one run in the first seven innings of the game.
In the bottom of the eighth, Lehigh scored three runs thanks to a three-run home run by McGaheran, his fourth of the year.
Despite the loss, Lehigh managed 13 hits in the game, as four Mountain Hawks had multi-hit games. Brong was 3-for-5 while, Gaust, Sady and freshman Patrick Walshe each had two hits. Freshman Rene Tato (1-2) suffered the loss as Lehigh was forced to use eight different pitchers.
Colella (4-1) earned the win in his first start of the season, throwing 4.0 innings, allowing two runs on five hits. Holy Cross had 19 hits in the game, with six different Crusaders producing multi-hit games. Steven Tkowski had four hits and four RBIs while Patrick Puentes had three hits and three RBIs.
The pair of games marked the 89th and 90th meetings between Lehigh and Holy Cross as the Mountain Hawks are now 42-48 all-time.
Lehigh and Holy Cross split Saturday’s doubleheader with the Mountain Hawks winning game one 4-1 before falling in game two 11-7.
The Mountain Hawks will look to rebound with a midweek game as Lehigh hosts Franklin & Marshall Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. while Lehigh will head to Navy next weekend for a four-game set in the final Patriot League regular season series.