BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh baseball team (15-26-1, 3-9 PL) will host Holy Cross (23-16, 8-4 PL) in a crucial Patriot League series as the Mountain Hawks look to make a playoff push. With rain in the forecast for Sunday, the four-game series will now take place Friday-Saturday on Goodman Campus. First pitch Friday will be at 1 p.m. Saturday will start at noon with a special ceremony taking place before the game to commemorate the seniors.
This weekend marks the penultimate league series and Lehigh’s final home regular season series. The Mountain Hawks currently sit tied for fifth place in the league, but are just one game behind fourth as the top four teams earn a berth to the Patriot League Tournament.
In addition to postseason implications, it will also be senior weekend as the seven Lehigh baseball seniors will be honored before Saturday’s doubleheader.
A pair of the seniors will also be breaking and nearing Lehigh career records this weekend.
Senior shortstop Brendan McGaheran will set a new school record in game one Friday as he will be playing in his 179th career game in the Brown and White, surpassing Jesse Novalis ’04. McGaheran is already the Lehigh all-time at-bats leader, as he enters the weekend with 673. The Nazareth, Pa. native also enters the weekend with 203 career hits, just three shy of the all-time Lehigh record, also held by Novalis. McGaheran will look to climb the school’s all-time marks in runs scored and doubles. He has amassed 136 runs scored, which places him No. 3 all-time and one away from No. 2 and five away from No. 1. McGaheran has 43 doubles, putting him No. 4, but just two away from No. 3 and five away from No. 2.
McGaheran leads Lehigh this season in hits (48), runs scored (34), total bases (65) and home runs (3) while he is second on the team hitting .306. Sophomore Joe Abeln paces Lehigh, hitting .328 with a team-best 25 RBIs.
When senior Cory Kent starts game one Friday, he will be making his 68th career appearance which will tie the Lehigh all-time record.
Kent has emerged as the Mountain Hawks’ ace this season with a team-best 2.28 ERA. He is 2-3 in 12 appearances and six starts with a team-high 43 strikeouts in 47.1 IP. Kent also has thrown five complete games, which is tied for No. 2 in the nation.
Kent not only starts for Lehigh but doubles as the team’s closer. He has four saves this year and enters the weekend with 22 career saves, which places him No. 1 all-time at Lehigh and No. 3 in Patriot League history.
Lehigh is coming off a 4-2 win Tuesday vs. Coppin State as the Mountain Hawks took advantage of a three-run first inning. Freshman Josh Flyer earned his second win, allowing just one run and striking out six in four innings of work while freshman Rene Tato struck out five across four hitless innings to earn his first career save.
The Mountain Hawks will look to keep its momentum going as they face a talented Holy Cross team. The Crusaders took three-of-four from defending Patriot League Champion Navy last weekend and are coming of a two-game sweep of Brown Wednesday.
Holy Cross is paced on offense by Patrick Puentes who leads the team with a .340 batting average and is coming off being named the Patriot League Player of the Week after he went 11-for-25 (.440) with four RBIs and seven runs scored last week. The Crusaders also have three other players batting .310 or higher. One of those is Chris Sintetos (.310) who leads the team with 25 RBIs and is second on the team with three home runs, behind Mike Ahmed who has four.
While Lehigh ranks No. 3 in the Patriot League hitting .279, Holy Cross is right there ranked No. 4 batting .271. It’s been the Crusaders pitching staff that has separated them and propelled them to second place in the league as the Holy Cross staff bolsters a 4.44 ERA, which is tied for No. 2 in the league.
At the front of the rotation is Tommy Marra (4-2, 3.04 ERA) who will duel Kent in game one Friday. Marra has the most innings on the Holy Cross staff, throwing 50.1 IP and striking out 27 battters. Matt Croglio (3-3, 4.40 ERA) will throw game two Friday while Nate Koneski (4-2, 2.96 ERA) will throw game one Saturday. Koneski leads the team with 54 strikeouts in 45.2 IP.
At the end of the line is John Colella (3-1) who sports a team-best 2.09 ERA. He has seven saves on the season and has 40 strikeouts in 38.2 IP.
Friday's game one will mark the 87th meeting between Lehigh and Holy Cross as the Mountain Hawks are 41-45 all-time. In last season’s series, Lehigh dropped three-of-four to Holy Cross. In 2010, the Mountain Hawks took three-of-four from the Crusaders in the regular season but then fell 2-1 in the three game series in the Patriot League semifinals.
After this weekend, Lehigh will return to action Wednesday to host Franklin & Marshall at 3 p.m. and then travel to Annapolis, Md. next weekend to close out the regular season with a four-game set at Navy.