Posted: 04/17/2012 | Last updated: April 17, 2012 at 08:10 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh baseball team (15-26-1) rode a three-run first inning to defeat Coppin State (0-35) Tuesday on Goodman Campus. Freshman Josh Flyer earned the win to improve to 2-0 on the season while freshman Rene Tato collected his first career save as the duo combined to strike out 11 in 8.0 IP, each throwing 4.0. Senior Brendan McGaheran played in his 178th career game Tuesday, tying the school games played record set by Jesse Novalis ’04.
McGaheran finished 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to seven games and bring his career total to 203 hits, which places him No. 2 all-time in Lehigh history and puts him just three hits away from the all-time mark of 206 also set by Novalis. The Nazareth, Pa. native also scored a run in Tuesday’s victory, putting his career total at 136 runs scored, which is No. 3 all-time and one away from No. 2 and five away from No. 1.
"Brendan is an outstanding player and his numbers speak for themselves," said head coach Sean Leary. "He's played through some tough injuries - major ones - that would have kept other guys out of the lineup and he plays so hard every game, so to get to that 178 number is pretty impressive. I'm very proud of him and it's nice to watch him to jump up the career leaderboards in a lot of categories."
Lehigh finished the game with seven hits, two coming off the bat of senior Ryan Gajdos including a clutch two-out RBI double in the seventh inning to tack on a crucial insurance run.
Flyer earned his second-career victory, as he went 4.0 innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out six. Tato earned the save, pitching the game’s final 4.0 innings without allowing a hit and striking out five.
Coppin State got on the board first, scoring a run in the top of the first inning. After a one-out walk and stolen base, the Eagles took advantage of the runner in scoring position with a two-out RBI single up the middle.
Lehigh got the run back and more in the bottom of the first. McGaheran and Gajdos led off with consecutive singles. After a strikeout, senior Joe Conaway walked to load the bases and with junior Casey Turner batting, McGaheran scored on a wild pitch while the other two baserunners also advanced. Turner then lined a RBI single through the left side and freshman Conor Faust picked up a RBI on a fielder's choice to give Lehigh a 3-1 edge after the first frame.
Coppin State threatened in the second inning with a leadoff double, but Flyer shutdown the 3-4-5 batters with a pop up and a pair of strikeouts to get out of the jam.
Both teams were unable to get anything going in the middle innings until Coppin State put together a rally in the top of the sixth. After a hit-by-pitch, the Eagles lined two straight singles to cut Lehigh’s lead to 3-2. After a walk to load the bases with nobody out, the Mountain Hawks were able to get the first out of the inning at the plate after freshman catcher Tim McKay recovered a wild pitch and threw to Tato covering at home. Tato then got a lineout to third base and a strikeout to leave Coppin State runners stranded on second and third.
In the top of the seventh, Coppin State managed to get the tying run to third after a two-out hit-by-pitch, stolen base and wild pitch but Tato again got out of the jam with a groundout to second base.
In the bottom of the seventh, freshman Lance Kirschenbaum led off with a double down the left-field line. McKay moved him to third with a SAC bunt. After a groundout with the infield in, Gajdos provided the insurance run with a two-out RBI double to right field.
Coppin State got the tying run to the plate in the top of the ninth after a one-out walk, but Tato shut the door to close the game.
Paul Hawk (0-6) suffered the loss for Coppin State, as he went 7.0 innings and allowed four runs on six hits and struck out five. The Eagles had five hits in the game, paced by Zach Spahn who went 2-for-4 with a RBI. Coppin State’s other RBI came off the bat of Alex Brown.
Tuesday marked six straight midweek victories for the Mountain Hawks and they will look to ride the win heading into a big Patriot League weekend series with Holy Cross on Goodman Campus. Doubleheaders are set for Saturday and Sunday with action beginning at noon both days. A special senior ceremony will take place prior to Saturday’s first game. Check back later in the week for more on the weekend series and the Lehigh baseball seniors.
"This is a playoff weekend for us; we need to win the series to get back in the hunt," Leary said. "Our guys will be ready. We have played some competitive series with Holy Cross - they are a talented team. We are getting better each day and I'm really looking forward to it and I know our guys are as well."