Posted: March 28, 2009
WORCESTER, Mass. – The Mountain Hawks suffered a setback in their first Patriot League action of the season, dropping both games to Holy Cross on Saturday afternoon by just one run each. The Crusaders escaped with a 6-5 victory in the opening game and came back with a nail-biting 7-6 win in game two at Fitton Field.
Lehigh falls to 5-21-1, with an 0-2 mark in league play after the pair of losses. Holy Cross improves to 8-14 with a 2-0 Patriot League record with the wins.
The Mountain Hawks and Crusaders traded the lead five times in the first game, with Holy Cross finally earning a walk-off victory in the seventh when Chris Sintetos singled up the middle to bring home John Sills for the game-winning run.
"I told them that we can’t make excuses," Lehigh head coach Sean Leary said. "There were some close calls and some tough breaks, and we just have to be tougher tomorrow and make our own breaks."
Cory Kent took the loss for the Mountain Hawks in the first game, going 1.0 innings and being responsible for the winning run. Andrew Berger pitched 5.1 innings as the starter, giving up five runs – four earned – and striking out three before being replaced by Kent in the sixth inning.
Andy Russell went 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs batted in to lead the Mountain Hawks’ offense in game one. Billy Goldman, Kevin Mihalik and Brendan Pifer each drove in a run as well for Lehigh.
Holy Cross clawed back from a 4-2 deficit to take the lead in the sixth inning. Holy Cross trailed 1-0 after one inning and 4-2 after three, but the Crusaders scored a run in the fifth and two in the sixth to take a 5-4 lead into the seventh inning.
Lehigh responded with a run of its own in the top half of the inning to tie the score and bring the Crusaders to the plate in the bottom of the seventh. Andy Russell’s sacrifice fly in the ninth gave Lehigh new life when it scored Billy Goldman to tie the game, but it opened the door for Sintetos’ heroics in the bottom of the inning.
"To their credit, they’d come up with a big hit when they needed it," Leary said of the Crusaders. "We kept battling and battling, but no matter what, we couldn’t find a way to win."
Game two was as dramatic a contest as the first, with the teams combining to score seven runs in the eighth and ninth innings. Lehigh rallied back from a 4-2 deficit, but fell just short to the Crusaders.
Mike Lebo went 6.2 innings as the starter in game two, giving up four runs on 10 hits and striking out two. Lebo left in the seventh with Lehigh trailing by two, but the eighth-inning rally gave him a no-decision. Luke Porter pitched the final 1.1 innings for the Brown and White and took the loss after giving up three runs in the bottom of the eighth.
Billy Swenson went 3-for-4 in the second game with two RBI, and Logan Marshall chipped in with a 2-for-5 day and two RBI as he saw his first action in more than one month.
Lehigh tied the game with a two-run eighth inning that made the score 4-4, but the Crusaders mounted a rally of their own in the bottom half of the inning, scoring three runs. The Lehigh bats woke up again in the top of the ninth. Billy Goldman got things going with a leadoff double, and Logan Marshall-Winchester knocked in two runs with an RBI single. But the two runs were just one to little and Lehigh fell, 7-6.
“When you battle so hard, you have to do your best to start over tomorrow,” Leary said. “There’s sometimes a carryover effect in these league games, and we have to guard against that by being mentally tough.”
Lehigh returns to action on Sunday when the Mountain Hawks play two more against the Crusaders starting at noon.
Watch the Lehigh - Holy Cross Post-Game Extra