BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After dropping the first game 10-7 on Sunday, the Lehigh baseball team (4-13-1) salvaged the final game of the four-game series vs. Iona (6-12) with a 13-7 victory. Senior Brendan McGaheran paced the Mountain Hawks at the plate with a 6-for-9 performance on the day, including two doubles, a home run, five runs scored and three stolen bases. Freshman Justin Pacchioli added a 4-for-7 day with four runs scored and three stolen bases.
Sophomore Colin Gotzon earned the win (1-2) in relief, throwing 3.2 IP and allowing two runs. Junior Brandon Sady started for the Mountain Hawks and pitched well, going 4.1 innings and allowing four earned runs.
After falling behind 2-0 after a half inning, Lehigh’s bats exploded for a six-run bottom of the first. With a pair of runs already in to tie the game, freshman Conor Faust broke the game open and gave Lehigh the lead for good with a three-run triple to left centerfield. While Lehigh had struggled in previous games to hold leads, the Mountain Hawks tacked on seven runs over the final seven innings to safely secure the victory.
“I think it was great to see our system on offense come into place and we played pretty good system baseball after that big first inning,” said head coach Sean Leary. “Those last eight innings were a little more the norm and it was nice to see us continually building a lead. Brandon and Colin competed hard and they did a nice job leveling things out and getting us a win against a tough lineup. Overall, there is a lot to build on. There were some frustrating times, but there were also some positive moments this weekend.”
After Iona got on the board first on a two-run single, the Mountain Hawks loaded the bases to start the bottom of the first. Senior Joe Conaway and junior Casey Turner delivered back-to-back RBI singles to tie the game as runners went station-to-station. Faust then lined the clutch three-run triple and senior Chad Warga added a RBI groundout to put Lehigh on top, 6-2.
Lehigh added a run in the next inning on a two-out RBI single by Turner. Iona got the run back in the top of the third but the Mountain Hawks produced a run in the fourth. McGaheran singled, advanced to second on a groundout, stole third and scored on a SAC fly by sophomore Joe Abeln.
The Gaels scored another run in the top of the fifth, still hanging around as Lehigh led 8-4. McGaheran provided some more cushion for Lehigh as he led off the top of the sixth with a home run to left field, his first of the season. Turner delivered a SAC fly later in the inning to give Lehigh a 10-4 edge.
Lehigh scored three more times in the seventh. Sophomore Brandon Wilt lined a one-out single, stole second and then scored on a McGaheran single. McGaheran then swiped second and third and after Pacchioli walked and stole second, Abeln produced a SAC fly to score a run and another run scored on an error.
Those extra three runs would end up being important as Iona rallied with a three-run top of the ninth.
Eleven of Lehigh’s 13 hits in the game came from its top five hitters in the order while four Mountain Hawks had a multi-hit game. McGaheran finished 4-for-5 with two RBIs and four runs scored, Pacchioli was 2-for-4 with three runs scored, Conaway was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored and Turner was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and one run scored.
Iona had 17 hits in the game, including six players with at least two hits.
In game one, Lehigh fell behind 2-0 after three innings but the Mountain Hawks scored twice in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game. Pacchioli led off the inning with a single, advanced to third on a Abeln double and sophomore Tyler Brong walked to load the bases. Senior Ryan Gajdos drove in Pacchioli with a SAC fly and Faust followed with a RBI single.
In the top of the fifth, Iona responded by loading the bases to start the inning. An error then allowed one run to score and a hit-by-pitch brought in a second run. Matt Kriss then cleared the bases with a three-run double and scored on a single two batters later as the Gaels tallied six runs in the inning to take an 8-2 lead.
Lehigh didn’t give up though scoring a run in the fifth and three in the sixth to cut the deficit to 9-6. In the Mountain Hawks’ three-run sixth, Lehigh loaded the bases with nobody out. Warga drove in one run with a single and then a run scored on a double play. McGaheran drove in the third run of the inning with a two-out double.
Iona added an insurance run in the seventh. Lehigh rallied in the bottom half, scoring a run, but couldn’t take advantage of two runners in scoring position with two outs.
Sophomore Nick Cassell took the loss (1-3) while John Daddino got the win (1-2).
Lehigh had 10 hits in the game as McGaheran and Pacchioli combined to go 4-for-7 at the top of the order while Faust was 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
Iona had 14 hits and had three players with at least three hits, led by a 4-for-4 game from Eric Capowski.
While Lehigh dropped three of the four games in the series, the Mountain Hawks ended the weekend on a good note and will look to ride that momentum into their midweek game at Saint Joseph’s Tuesday at 3 p.m.
Lehigh will the return home to Goodman Campus for a four-game set vs. Binghamton Saturday and Sunday.