DAVIDSON, N.C. – The Lehigh baseball team (1-0) used a two-run first to propel itself to a 3-1 season-opening win at Davidson (1-2) Friday night. Sophomore Nick Cassell earned the victory as a trio of Mountain Hawk pitchers allowed just four hits and no earned runs. Senior Cory Kent picked up the six-out save, striking out five over the final two innings while eight different Mountain Hawks had at least one hit including seniors Joe Conaway and Ryan Gajdos who came up with two clutch ones.
“Our team competed very well and found a way to win a tight ballgame,” said head coach Sean Leary. “Our three pitchers were very impressive and I’m really proud of them, they did an outstanding job on the mound. It’s always tough the first time out there.”
Lehigh struck in its first at-bat after senior Brendan McGaharen and junior Casey Tuner got on with singles. Conaway then singled to center field and McGaharen was able to score on an error by the center fielder while Turner advanced to third and Conaway to second. Sophomore Brandon Wilt then reached on a fielding error by the third basemen and picked up the RBI to give Lehigh the early 2-0 lead.
The Mountain Hawks gave an unearned run back in the bottom of the second when Davidson’s Andrew Barna reached third base on a fielding error by Wilt. After a strike out and a walk, Barna then scored on a balk by Cassell.
Lehigh tacked on its third run in the top of the fourth. Witt doubled and advanced to third on a groundout but was then thrown out at home after a grounder to the pitcher. Junior Brandon Sady, who reached on the fielder’s choice on the play, advanced to second after senior Chad Warga singled and then Gajdos came up with the big hit, doubling down the right field line to score Sady to put Lehigh up 3-1.
Cassell held Davidson to just one hit over the fourth, fifth and sixth inning and handed the ball over to Lehigh’s stellar bullpen in the seventh.
Junior Thomas O’Malley came on and after getting himself in a bit of a jam, putting runners on first and second with one out, he got back-to-back strike outs to get out of it.
In the top of the eighth, Lehigh got its first two runners on after freshman Justin Pacchioli singled and Turner reached on an error as the Mountain Hawks looked to tack on some insurance runs. But Conaway struck out and then Pacchioli got caught stealing third and Turner was picked off first.
Kent came on in the eighth and struck out a pair before walking a batter, bringing the tying run to the plate but Kent got him to fly out to right.
Lehigh had another chance in the ninth to add on to its lead after the Mountain Hawks had runners on first and second with two outs, but Gajdos went down swinging.
Davidson got the leadoff hitter on in the ninth after Kent hit a batter, again bringing the tying run to the plate. But Kent settled down and got three-straight strikeouts to close the door.
Pacchioli was the lone player in the game with more than one hit, finishing 2-for-4 in his first collegiate game. Lehigh got great production from the top half of the order as the 1-thru-6 hitters had seven of the Mountain Hawks’ nine hits.
Three of Davidson's four hits came from the Wildcats’ top three in the lineup. Ryan Overcash suffered the loss after going seven innings, giving up three runs (one earned) and five strikeouts.
With the win, Lehigh improved to 4-0 all-time vs. Davidson.
The Mountain Hawks will take the field again Saturday for a double header, facing Fairleigh Dickinson at noon and Davidson again at 3:30 p.m.