Posted: 04/02/2012 | Last updated: April 2, 2012 at 03:47 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After splitting a four-game series with rival Lafayette in the Patriot League weekend opener, the Lehigh baseball team (8-19-1, 2-2 PL) will get set to play a pair of midweek games. The Mountain Hawks will travel to take on Temple in the final game of the Liberty Bell Classic Tuesday at 3 p.m. and will return home to host Delaware State Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Lehigh took the first two games of the series on Saturday, 3-1 and 10-2, but then dropped the final two on Sunday, 8-6 and 8-1. Lehigh was paced by a pair of stellar pitching performances in the pair of victories as senior Cory Kent and freshman Nick Stephens both earned wins.
Kent threw a seven-inning complete game, allowing one run on five hits and struck out five. After allowing one run on three hits in the first inning, Kent held the Leopards to just two hits the rest of the way. It was Kent’s third seven-inning complete game of the season and leads Lehigh with a 2.51 ERA, which ranks No. 5 in the Patriot League. Kent also leads the team in innings pitched (32.1) while his 33 strikeouts rank No. 4 in the Patriot League.
Kent passed the torch to Stephens in game two as he picked up his first collegiate victory in his first Patriot League start. The Monument, Colo. native pitched a career-high 8.0 innings (his previous high was 6.1 vs. Iona) while allowing two runs on eight hits. Of those eight hits, just one was an extra-base hit and that came in the ninth inning. Stephens’ five strikeouts were the second highest of his career and is second on the team with 20 strikeouts.
Stephens' victory also handed Lehigh head coach Sean Leary his 327th win at Lehigh which is now the most-all time in program history, passing Stan “Skip” Schultz.
For their efforts, both Kent and Stephens were named to the Honorable Mention list in the Patriot League’s weekly awards release.
Offensively, Lehigh has eight players hitting at least .280, led by freshman Conor Faust’s .302. Sophomore Joe Abeln, who is hitting .288, leads the team with 17 RBIs while senior Brendan McGaheran has a team-leading 29 hits, 19 runs, two home runs and 39 total bases.
The Mountain Hawks had 34 hits in the four games over the weekend as Lehigh is now hitting .268 as a team this season, which ranks No. 3 in the Patriot League.
Lehigh was a perfect 10-for-10 in stolen bases over the weekend, led by three from sophomore Tyler Brong. The Mountain Hawks now have 44 for the season, which ranks second in the Patriot League. Freshman Justin Pacchioli leads the team and is tied for the most in the Patriot League with 11 stolen bases while only being caught twice.
The Mountain Hawks will be looking to ride their momentum from the weekend when they travel to face Temple Wednesday in the final game of the Liberty Bell Classic. In the first game of the Classic last Tuesday, Lehigh fell 5-0 to Delaware on Goodman Campus while Temple lost to Saint Joseph’s 4-1.
The Owls enter the game 12-15 and 0-3 in the A-10. Most recently, Temple went 2-0 against Monmouth, winning 5-3 Friday and 7-1 Sunday.
Temple is hitting .277 this season and the staff has a 4.98 ERA. At the plate, the Owls are led by Steve Nikorak, who leads the team hitting .333. Nikorak also leads the team in runs (27), hits (34), home runs (2), RBIS (20), and total bases (52). Foster Dunigan is right behind him batting .324.
Temple will send freshman right-hander Eric Peterson to the mound to face the Mountain Hawks Tuesday. It will be his second start this season and 10th appearance as he is 0-0 with a 6.31 ERA. He has thrown the fourth most innings on the team with 25.2 IP and is third on the team with 21 strikeouts.
Lehigh will be handing the ball to sophomore right-hander Colin Gotzon, who will be making his fourth start and seventh appearance this season. Gotzon is 1-3 with a 7.53 ERA and has 10 strikeouts in 14.1 IP.
Tuesday’s game will mark the 47th meeting between the schools as Lehigh is 17-28-1 all-time vs. Temple. The two last squared off in 2010 in the first game of the Liberty Bell Classic at Temple where Lehigh held on for a 13-12 win, scoring runs in even of the nine innings. Lehigh posted 18 hits as the two teams combined for 37 in the game.
After facing Temple Tuesday, Lehigh will return home to Goodman Campus to host Delaware State Wednesday. The two teams played on April 14 in Dover, Del. in a wild game which ended tied 11-11 after 11 innings due to darkness. In the game, Lehigh jumped out to a 6-0 lead but that was soon erased. Lehigh retook the lead but Delaware State again tied it up. The two went back and forth again until the eighth when Lehigh took a one-run lead. But Delaware State tied the game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
The teams combined for 33 hits, 20 coming from the Mountain Hawks. All nine Lehigh starters had a hit while seven had at least two as Brong was 4-for-6 with two RBIs and three runs scored to lead the way. Abeln was 3-for-5 with two RBIs, junior Casey Turner was 3-for-7 with two runs scored and one RBI and sophomore Brandon Wilt was 2-for-5 with two RBIs.
Delaware State enters Wednesday’s game with a 15-12-1 record and sits in first place in the Northern Division in the MEAC with a 5-1 record. Most recently, the Hornets are coming off a 1-2 series against Hofstra where Delaware State took the opening game 10-2 before falling 11-3 in game two and game three.
The Hornets are hitting an impressive .286 as a team while the staff has a 4.57 ERA. Delaware State is paced at the plate by Ryan Haas, who is hitting .361 and leads the team with 35 hits and 27 RBIs. Eddie Sorondo is right behind him, hitting .343 while JP Frey is third batting .316 and is second on the team with 23 RBIs.
On the mound, Delaware State is led by Jordan Elliot who is 4-2 with a 2.23 ERA. He has thrown a team-high 44.1 IP and has allowed just 11 earned runs with 24 strikeouts.
Wednesday will mark the 22nd meeting between the schools as Lehigh holds the narrow 11-8-2 all-time edge.