Lehigh junior infielder Chris Kersey tags out sliding teammate Anthony Rinaldi at second base with teammate Matt Hand backing him up at practice on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017, at Legacy Field. Kersey has seen action in nine games this year, including two starts. (William Bickel/B&W Staff)

Lehigh baseball sweeps NJIT in home openers


The Lehigh baseball team looked refreshed and replenished while sweeping New Jersey Institute of Technology in its home-opening games Saturday.

The Mountain Hawks started off the first game quickly, scoring two runs in the first inning and winning the game 2-1. Lehigh continued to dominate in the second game and won 11-6.

The team’s solid pitching and clutch batting propelled Lehigh through the double header.  Lehigh’s two starting pitchers, senior Connor Donovan and freshman Jason Reynolds, combined to allow just three runs over 11 innings on the day. Donovan allowed just five hits and a walk in his 5 1/3 innings, holding NJIT to just one run.

“I felt really comfortable out there, especially with my infield making so many great plays for us down the stretch,” Donovan said. “We came to play today for sure.”

Reynolds enjoyed similar success in the second game of the day. The young pitcher struck out 11 in 5 2/3 innings in the first start of his career, allowing eight hits and two runs.

“It was a good experience to get the first start of my career, even better that we were able to perform the way we did this afternoon,” Reynolds said. “Hopefully we gain some momentum from today.”

While only able to generate five hits and two runs in the first game, the Mountain Hawks’ bats came alive in the second. The team recorded 14 hits, including contributions from seven different players and multi-hit performances from five of them.

Senior Anthony Rinaldi’s seven-game hit streak came to an end during the first game of the day, but he came back in the second with three hits. Senior Jacen Nalesnik also swung a hot bat all afternoon, amassing four hits in eight at-bats over the two games and three hits in the second game alone. Both have enjoyed great hitting performances all season, each totaling at least five multi-hit games.

After falling behind two runs early in the second game, the Lehigh bats came alive to score 11 of the game’s next 12 runs to ensure the victory.

The team has struggled so far this season, but it is hopeful that this strong showing at home will turn its season around.

“Getting a pair of home wins definitely helped morale of the team,” coach Sean Leary said.  “You saw guys having fun out there today, playing disciplined. We definitely liked what we saw today as a team.”

The Mountain Hawks look to continue this trend of success on Sunday in another doubleheader with the Highlanders and into the beginning of the team’s Patriot League schedule. This game marked the first time that the Mountain Hawks won their home opener since 2014, although they have experienced success against NJIT in the past, losing to the team only twice in 15 games.

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