Lehigh walks off, beats Lafayette in extras to claim season series
4/10/2021 | 12 o’clock
BETHLEHEM, PA. – The Lehigh baseball team, crowned by a Casey Rother single in the tenth inning, won a wild 7-6 ball game against arch rivals Lafayette in extra innings at J. David Walker Field to earn their third win of the season against the Leopards (4-9, 3-7 PL) in season. The win gives the Mountain Hawks (10-7, 7-2 PL) their third straight win to open the league in 2021.
Lehigh’s 7-2 record in the Patriot League at the start of the 2021 season is the best start in program history since the Patriot League was founded in 1991.
Despite a strong effort from junior left-hander Luke Rettig, in which he completed eight innings and allowed four hits in four runs, none of which were scored with seven strokes and a walk, the Mountain Hawks lost the lead in ninth place with two outlets Two-run double, but used two clutch hits from Gerard Sweeney and Rother to take the walk-off win, Lehigh’s second goal of the season with that result.
“Luke was definitely our hero of the day,” said head coach Sean Leary. “We had a sloppy inning that happened in baseball, but he just left that behind and got us through the eighth inning. Honestly, we won the ball game there. Even though Lafayette crashed back, Luke was the guy who did gave us the win today. It takes a difficult attitude to overcome an inning like this. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so many misses in a row.
“But he was focused and gave us a chance to come back and even though they tied it he held us on so we could have a chance to win.”
The Mountain Hawks hit gold in the first inning when junior Joe Gorla doubled up to right midfield, giving Eric Cichocki a 1-0 lead.
Three direct mistakes by the Lehigh defense in the third inning had loaded the bases and two outs for the Leopards and a triple single-to-center field gave Lafayette a 3-1 lead. The result was 4-1 on the next stroke when Dylan Minghini hit left field and advanced to second place on the throw, scoring Pete Ciuffreda. All four Lafayette runs in the inning were not earned for Rettig due to Lehigh’s fault.
Minghini struggled to hold on to baseball in the fourth inning when Quinn McKenna scored Lehigh’s second run of the game with an passed ball. In the same inning it came to the same result when Rother left and the ball ran away from the catcher and Cichocki scored to 4-3 game.
On 9 after a 7-6 win over Lafayette! #GoLehigh | #RTTR pic.twitter.com/f8xsiTlZLb
– Lehigh Baseball (@LehighBaseball) April 8, 2021 At the end of fifth place, Andrew Nole scored a pass, Minghini’s third in two innings to finish the game 4-4
Named Patriot League Rookie of the Week for his stellar weekend against Navy, Nole hit a two-run single in the sixth inning, scoring Gorla and Sweeney to take the Mountain Hawks 6-4.
With Ryan Deom in play to secure first place, the runner-up was quickly eliminated from the first two Leopards on the plate, but two consecutive singles put the runners in first and second place and an Ethan Stern double with two outs, both runs scored as Lafayette linked the game at 6-6.
Ben Christian started the top of the 10th inning for the Mountain Hawks and went two batters with one out before Will Grisack took over. He took the last two outs and left the game a draw in the bottom half.
Sweeney’s brace led into the inning with a bang, and Rother scored his first goal of his career with a single field to the left to give Lehigh a 7-6 win on a fine Wednesday afternoon.
WALK IT OFF! ?
Casey Rother gets Gerard Sweeney on the RBI single and the Mountain Hawks win it in 10, 7-6 and take the series from Lafayette! #GoLehigh | #RTTR pic.twitter.com/Lk4NHgp5uI
– Lehigh Baseball (@LehighBaseball) April 7, 2021 “We’ve had such a unique layoff between games this season and a guy like Billy Grisack comes in who hasn’t thrown in three weeks and makes five or six quality spots.” said Leary. “There were some key games late and we were resilient even though we knew we had to play a tough game. If you still have a run at the end and you get a win, you can still build it up.
“I wouldn’t say that today was a nice day, but the rivalry wins are great and the league wins are great for us.”
Seven of Lehigh’s nine members of the grid recorded at least one hit, while Rother went 2-4 with two walks and an RBI. Retzbach went 2: 5 with a double and Nole went 1: 2 with one run, two walks and two RBIs.
Grisack, who scored the final 0.2 innings of relief in the 10th inning, took his first career win, improving to 1-0 of the season with a 0.00 ERA.
Lehigh will turn his attention to a three-game weekend series with Bucknell on Saturday in Lewisburg for two games and on Sunday at Walker Field for a single game at 2pm
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Gallery: (4-7-2021) Baseball vs. Lafayette, 4/7/2021