BERKELEY, Calif. – The Lehigh baseball team (2-3) put together a three-run rally in the ninth but fell 9-3 to No. 25 Cal (6-2) Saturday in the first of a three-game series. Lehigh's runs came from an Alex Jacquez two-run double and a Ryan Gajdos RBI SAC fly. Lehigh finished with nine hits from nine different players while Lehigh pitchers only allowed four earned runs. The teams will play two more tomorrow starting at 2 p.m.
In the Mountain Hawks’ final at-bat, junior Thomas O’Malley started things off with a pinch-hit single. Two batters later, senior Joe Conaway walked and then both runners advanced a base on a wild pitch. Jacquez then lined a two-run double for his third and fourth RBI of the season to put Lehigh on the board. Sophomore Joe Abeln got on with a pinch-hit single and Gajdos produced an RBI SAC fly to right field, driving in Jacquez. Sophomore Tyler Brong kept the rally going with a pinch-hit single, but Lehigh's comeback fell short after a game-ending groundout.
Prior to that ninth inning, Lehigh had managed just five hits but the Mountain Hawks had a chance to take the lead in their first at-bat of the game.
Lehigh got its first two runners on after senior Brendan McGaheran and freshman Justin Pacchioli hit back-to-back singles. Junior Casey Turner then moved both runners over with a ground ball to second. The Mountain Hawks were unable to take advantage of the two runners in scoring position however as Conaway grounded a ball back to the pitcher who threw to first who then threw out McGaheran at home for an inning-ending double play.
Cal took the lead in the bottom half of the inning after Tony Renda led off with a double. He then advanced to third on a SAC bunt and scored on a SAC fly.
The Golden Bears tacked on a second run in the bottom of the second. After Lehigh erased a leadoff hit-by-pitch with a 6-4-3 double play, sophomore Nick Cassell gave up a solo homer to Derek Campbell as Lehigh fell behind 2-0.
Cal broke the game open in the bottom of the third scoring four unearned runs, three coming with two outs. Renda led off the inning with a double and scored two batters later on an error by Conaway. After a hit by pitch, groundout and walk, Cal had loaded the bases with two outs. Lehigh could not get out of the jam though as Danny Oh hit a two-run single followed by a Campell RBI single as Lehigh trailed 6-0 after three innings.
The Golden Bears scored one in the fourth and then two with two outs in the seventh.
Cassell fell to 1-1 on the year going 3.1 innings, allowing seven runs – two earned – on eight hits. Sophomore Joey McNamara pitched the middle innings, going 2.2 innings, allowing two runs on four hits while sophomore Mike Burke threw the final 2.0 innings, giving up just one hit while striking out two.
Preseason All-American Justin Jones picked up the win for Cal to improve to 2-1 on the season. He went 7.0 innings, allowing four hits while striking out three.
Cal finished with 13 hits with three different Golden Bears finishing with three hits. Renda - a First-Team Preseason All-American (Baseball America) and the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year – finished 3-for-5, Chadd Krist was 3-for-4 with three RBIs and Campbell was 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
Six of Cal’s nine runs came with two outs.
The game was Lehigh’s first ever against a team from California and the Mountain Hawks’ trip to the West Coast is the furthest west the team has traveled since playing McNeese State in Lake Charles, La. to start the 2004 season.
Lehigh will face Cal in a doubleheader tomorrow with first pitch set for 2 p.m.