Posted: 04/20/2012 | Last updated: April 20, 2012 at 07:40 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh baseball team (16-27-1, 4-10 PL) split a doubleheader with Holy Cross (24-17, 9-5 PL) Friday on Goodman Campus. Lehigh won game one 4-1 before dropping game two 11-7. Senior Cory Kent threw a complete game to earn the win while sophomore Brandon Wilt drove in two runs including the game-winning RBI. The teams will play two more Saturday starting at noon with a special senior ceremony taking place before game one.
"Cory was outstanding," said head coach Sean Leary. "He has been phenomenal all season and he goes out and sets the tone. Brandon has had a great two weeks and has been really improving. The offensive hero was Chad Warga, who had a couple key sacrifice bunts down to move a few runners over who ended up scoring and that’s three of our four runs."
Kent's game one start marked his 68th career appearance which ties him for the all-time school record with Matt Mezzancello '05. Saturday's game one also marked Brendan McGaheran's 179th career game in the Brown & White, setting a new Lehigh record, surpassing the 178 games played by Jesse Novalis '04. McGaheran also scored three runs on the day to give him 139 for his career, placing him No. 2 all-time at Lehigh and just two runs scored behind Novalis.
"To accumulate those kinds of numbers, it means you came in as a freshman and made the adjustment to college baseball right away," Leary said. "We had those guys right in the fire from the start. Brendan is going to be in the Top 5 in almost every offensive category and Cory is unique because he is starting and closing and doing so many different things which makes his numbers even more special because he’s been so unselfish."
Kent (3-3) struck out six in his sixth complete game of the season, which ties him for the most in the nation. He allowed one run on eight hits along the way. The Wilson, Pa. native faltered in the first inning, giving up a run on two hits but then shut down Holy Cross the rest of the way.
Kent was helped out by a Lehigh offense that made the most of its four hits in the game. Wilt had one hit and a pair of RBIs, McGaheran and senior Ryan Gajdos each had a hit and RBI while freshman Conor Faust had the team’s fourth hit.
Holy Cross got on the board in the top of the first as the Crusaders started the game with a leadoff triple. Kent then got consecutive strikeouts before Holy Cross took a 1-0 lead on a two-out RBI single.
Lehigh evened the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the third. Freshman John Elson reached on an error by the shortstop. Warga then moved him to second with a SAC bunt and Wilt drove him in with a RBI ground-rule double to right centerfield.
In the bottom of the fifth, Lehigh jumped out ahead, scoring three runs, two of which came with two outs. Faust led off with a double to right centerfield. Elson was hit by pitch and Warga moved them both over with his second SAC bunt of the game. With the infield in, Wilt hit a SAC fly to right field for his second RBI of the game and what would become the game-winning RBI. Elson moved to third on the play and McGaheran drove him in with a two-out RBI single. McGaheran then stole second and Gajdos drove him in with another two-out RBI to give Lehigh a 4-1 edge.
Kent sent down Holy Cross in the sixth and seventh to give Lehigh the game one victory.
Tommy Marra (4-3) also went the distance for Holy Cross, allowing three earned runs on four hits and striking out four batters. Neither Kent nor Marra walked a batter in the game.
The Crusaders produced eight hits, two coming off the bat of both Mike Ahmed and Patrick Puentas. Stephen Woodsworth had the team’s lone RBI.
Game two started the same way as the first one as Holy Cross scored first. The Crusaders led off the game with a double and the batter advanced to third on an error and would go on to score on a RBI single as Lehigh fell behind 1-0.
Lehigh responded with three runs in its half of the inning, all three coming with nobody out. The Mountain Hawks got their first five runners on base as the big blow came off the bat of sophomore Tyler Brong, who lined a two-run double down the left-field line. Junior Casey Turner followed him up with a RBI single.
Holy Cross came right back in the top of the second, scoring a pair of runs to even the game 3-3. After a leadoff single, a wild pitch advanced the runner to second and he then scored on a RBI double. With one out, he advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt and scored on a RBI single.
The Mountain Hawks retook the lead 5-3 in the bottom of the second, scoring a pair of runs. After Lehigh loaded the bases with nobody out, Gajdos came through with a two-run single through the left side. The Mountain Hawks still had first and second and nobody out, but were unable to tack on more runs.
Then for the fifth consecutive half inning, a run was scored as Holy Cross then took a 6-5 lead, scoring three unearned runs in the top of the third. With the bases loaded and two outs after an error, Holy Cross was able to take advantage with a three-run double.
After a couple of scoreless innings, Holy Cross then tacked on a five-spot in the top of the sixth, with four of those runs coming with two outs. After a single, hit-by-pitch and SAC bunt, Holy Cross drove in the first run of the inning with a SAC fly. Then with two outs, Holy Cross scored four more runs on a pair of RBI singles and a two-run triple as Lehigh trailed 11-5.
Lehigh was unable to get anything going for six innings until the Mountain Hawks finally rallied in the ninth. With two outs, Lehigh scored two runs and brought the tying run to the plate. After a pop out and fly out, Wilt lined a single up the middle, advanced to second and then scored on a RBI single to centerfield by McGaheran. McGaheran advanced to second and then scored on a RBI single by Gajdos, his third hit and third RBI of the game. Sophomore Joe Abeln then singled as Gajdos advanced to second. With the tying run on deck, Holy Cross was forced to go to its closer. Brong earned a walk to load the bases to bring the tying run up, but Lehigh was unable to keep the rally going.
Junior Brandon Sady (1-2) suffered the loss, as he allowed the three unearned runs in the third inning. Freshman Nick Stephens started the game for Lehigh, and pitched 2.0 innings, allowing three runs on five hits and struck out three.
Lehigh’s offense exploded for 12 hits including three from both McGaheran and Gajdos. Gajdos also finished with three RBIs while Brong had two RBIs.
Donny Murray (3-0) earned the win for Holy Cross as he pitched 7.2 relief innings, allowing two runs on six hits and striking out five. John Colella picked up his eighth save of the season. Matt Croglio started for the Crusaders and pitched 1.0 inning including four batters in the second inning, allowing five runs on six hits.
Holy Cross had 14 hits in the game with five players having multi-hit games. Puentas had three while Josh Olson had two hits and RBIs.
The pair of games marked the 87th and 88th meeting between Lehigh and Holy Cross as the Mountain Hawks are now 42-46 all-time.
The two schools will play a two more games tomorrow starting at noon with a special senior ceremony taking place before the doubleheader.
"We are looking forward to tomorrow," Leary said. "Our playoff future is on the line every game at this point so we know we have to come out and play some good baseball. We are competing very hard, just have to execute a little better."