DAVIDSON, N.C. – The Lehigh baseball team (2-1) split a pair of games Saturday, defeating Fairleigh Dickinson 8-7 before falling to Davidson 9-1. Freshman Jordan Smith picked up his first collegiate victory in relief while senior Cory Kent earned his second save of the season. Lehigh was paced offensively in the two games by senior Ryan Gajdos who went 5-for-7 with an RBI, two runs scored and two stolen bases while freshman Justin Pacchioli was 2-for-6 with two RBIs, two runs scored and three stolen bases.
“I’m pleased with the effort,” said head coach Sean Leary. “Overall, I’m pleased. We’ve been scrapping really hard and I’m happy to be 2-1 at this point. We didn’t play the cleanest second game, but we are working through some things. Davidson’s pitcher threw a nice game and they just out executed us.”
In game one, Lehigh erased an early 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the first. Pacchioli walked and junior Casey Turner was hit by a pitch. They both advanced a base on a wild pitch and senior Joe Conaway drove in Pacchioli on a SAC fly to centerfield while Turner went to third on the play. Sophomore Brandon Wilt then came up with the big two-out RBI double to drive in Turner and put Lehigh up 2-1.
FDU responded with a run in the top of the second to tie the game, but again the Mountain Hawks retook the lead in the bottom half of the frame. With senior Chad Warga standing on first with two outs, senior Brendan McGaheran was hit by a pitch and Pacchioli drove them both in with a double to right field. After putting Lehigh ahead with his bat, he then used his legs to create a run as he stole third and went on to score on a wild pitch, giving Lehigh a 5-2 lead after two innings.
For the third straight inning, FDU scored in its half but this time Lehigh was unable to answer in the bottom half. Then in the top of the fourth, FDU scored twice to even the game at 5-5 after three straight singles and a SAC fly.
In the bottom of the inning, Wilt got the rally started with a walk and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Witt then got to third after a groundout and went on to score on another wild pitch which put Lehigh up 6-5 and would prove to be the game-winning run.
The Mountain Hawks tacked on insurance runs in the fifth and sixth which would prove to be crucial after FDU managed a run in the seventh and one in the ninth. In that ninth inning, FDU put together a few singles and had the tying run 90 feet away with two outs, but Kent came in to end the threat and close the game.
Sophomore Mike Burke started the game and went 2.1 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits. Sophomore Joey McNamara followed with 1.1 inning of work and then Smith came in and pitched 3.1 innings, giving one run on three hits. He passed the torch to senior Dan Ciccone who set up Kent.
Pacchioli was 2-for-3 with two walks, two RBIs, two runs scored and two stolen bases while Gajdos was 2-for-4 with one RBI, one run scored and a stolen base. FDU had 16 hits to Lehigh’s seven, but the Mountain Hawks also had seven walks.
“We got on base a ton, earning a bunch of walks but just couldn’t click on a big inning,” Leary said. “We really used our small ball game. We stole a lot of bases and took advantage of a lot of wild pitches, which are caused by pitchers rushing and being worried about our running game.”
In game two, Lehigh and Davidson combined for just two hits through the first three innings. The Mountain Hawks got on the board first in the top of the fourth. With two outs, Gadjos singled and advanced to third on a throwing error. Freshman Lance Kirschenbaum then picked up his first collegiate hit with a single to right, driving in Gadjos.
Davidson then scored on an unearned run in the bottom half of the inning to even the game 1-1. The Wildcats would then go on to score in four straight innings including three in the fifth and three in the seventh.
The Mountain Hawks managed just five hits over the final four innings, but had a chance in the sixth trailing 4-1. McGaharen was up with the bases loaded and two outs, but was unable to do any damage.
Sophomore Colin Gotzon took the loss, allowing four runs in 4.2 innings while striking out five batters. Brian Russell picked up the win for Davidson.
Gajdos had three of Lehigh’s seven hits as he went 3-for-3 with a walk and run scored.
Lehigh will finish up its weekend in North Carolina against Fairleigh Dickinson Sunday at 10 a.m.