BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Winners of three straight, the Lehigh baseball team (13-23-1, 2-6 PL) will head to Bucknell (16-18, 3-5 PL) this weekend for a Patriot League clash with doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday with first pitch slated at noon on both days. The Mountain Hawks currently sit in fifth place, one game behind the Bison in the standings as the four-game set could have postseason implications as Lehigh will look to keep its hot bats going this weekend.
Lehigh went 3-0 during its midweek games. On Tuesday, Lehigh produced season highs in runs and hits (24) en route to a 17-3 win over Scranton on Goodman Campus. The following day, Lehigh etched out a pair of wins at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, 7-6 and 5-3.
Sophomore Joe Abeln has been stellar this week, batting .692 over the three games with nine runs scored and three RBIs. Out of his nine hits this week, four have been doubles. Freshman John Elson has also had a stellar week, batting .583 (7-for-12) with seven RBIs while senior Joe Conaway is hitting .545 (6-for-11) with five runs scored and seven RBIs. All six of his hits have been extra-base hits (5 doubles,1 triple). Conaway now has 13 doubles on the season which ranks him tied for first in the Patriot League.
Abeln has not only led Lehigh this week, but has led the Mountain Hawks all season with a team-high .364 batting average and has driven in a team-high 24 RBIs. He is second on the team in hits (39), doubles (10) and runs scored (30).
Elson is second on the team, batting .317 while sophomore Tyler Brong is hitting .309 and senior Brendan McGaheran is at .299 which ranks No. 9 in the Patriot League (min. 3.0 AB/Team game). McGaheran leads Lehigh with 36 runs scored, which is tied for second most per game in the league while his team-high 36 hits ranks no. 5. McGaheran has also been Lehigh’s main source of power with three of the Mountain Hawks’ 12 home runs.
McGaheran has not only got the job done with his bat, but with his legs as well as the shortstop leads the league with 16 stolen bases. As a team, Lehigh has 62 stolen bases which puts them second in the league, just three back behind Army.
On the mound, Lehigh has been paced by senior Cory Kent (1-3) who has a team-best 2.45 ERA which ranks No. 3 in the Patriot League while his team-high 36 strikeouts ranks No. 5 in the league. Kent has four seven-inning complete games in his five starts which is tops in the league. The Wilson, Pa. native not only leads the Mountain Hawks at the front end of the rotation, but is the team’s closer. He has four saves which ranks No. 5 in the league as he now has 22 career saves, which places him No. 3 all-time in Patriot League history.
The offense and pitching will look to put it together this Saturday and Sunday as Lehigh faces a Bucknell team that was picked to finish tied for first in the Patriot League preseason poll. The Bison enter this weekend having dropped three of its last five games. This weekend's series ends a stretch where Bucknell is playing 15 of 17 games at home on Depew Field. The Bison are 5-6 at home during that stretch and are 7-7 overall at home in 2012.
Bucknell started league play losing three of four to Holy Cross and most recently, split a four-game set with Navy last weekend.
The Bison features a dangerous offense that ranks second in the league hitting .297 while also ranking second with 337 hits. Bucknell is paced by Bob Donato, two-time league Player of the Week selection this season. Donato leads the league in batting average (.405), hits (51) and home runs (six) while his 29 RBIs rank second. The Bison are also led by David Duffett (.321, 28 RBI) and Gerry Runyan (.315 BA, 18 RBI).
Dan Weigel is Bucknell’s top pitcher and will start game one against Kent. Weigel is 6-1 in eight appearances with a 2.47 ERA and 26 strikeouts.
Game one Saturday will mark the 157th meeting between the two schools as Lehigh is 77-79 all-time including 32-50 since Lehigh and Bucknell have met as Patriot League teams. The two most recently met last season when the Mountain Hawks dropped three of four to the Bison.
Live stats will be available for all four games.