With a Patriot League Tournament bid just out of reach, the Lehigh baseball team looks to come back from a rocky season.
The team has struggled this year, with losing records of 14-21 overall and 4-10 in the Patriot League.
Hitting coach Mike Garzillo, however, said the Mountain Hawks have been able to rely on experienced leadership to help guide them through the season as the playoffs approach.
“The team has managed to maintain its focus and determination due to the leadership of the senior class,” Garzillo said. “The seniors this year are tremendous people who care so much about this team that they are willing to do whatever it takes to get better and win.”
With a little more than two weeks remaining in Lehigh’s regular season and 11 of the 14 games left against league competitors, the team will have to push to earn a spot in the postseason.
Lehigh sits at fifth place in the Patriot League — second to last. Only the top four teams advance to the tournament.
Senior pitcher Matt Kozemchak said even though the team isn’t in an ideal position, the upcoming league games will give the Mountain Hawks the chance to turn their season around.
“We realize we are in a tough spot right now and that we kind of dug ourselves a hole, but we still control our own fate,” Kozemchak said. “With five remaining games against Bucknell (University), that will be an enormous season for us. If we can piece together some good pitching with some timely hitting, we feel we can make a run.”
Senior pitcher Buck Schwab believes as long as the Mountain Hawks trust their talent and play “team-first” baseball, they will be fine.
“I personally feel that our team needs to maintain a high level of focus during all nine innings, with the constant mindset of doing whatever the situation may call for in a game,” Schwab said. “If we do this, the three phases of our game will come together, and we have seen what this looks like at times this year when we are playing our best.”
With 14 games remaining, Schwab said tournament spots are still up for the taking. But when 50 games are packed into a three-month season, it’s critical to remain focused and not get too caught up in day-to-day games.
“In a sport like baseball, with so many games, it is extremely important to be able to move on quickly following either a win or a loss,” Kozemchak said. “The more you think about the previous game, the more you will struggle if you aren’t playing well, so I think overall as a team we have done a good job of leaving the past behind us and focusing on our next game.”
The Mountain Hawks’ goal for the season is to bring home the championship title once again after winning in 2015.
“Our goal every season is to win the championship,” Kozemchak said. “As we sit right now, we are in a tough spot, but we definitely still have a chance. It all starts with making the playoffs, and from there, anything can happen. We need to take it one pitch at a time and only worry about our next game.”
Lehigh’s next game is at Bucknell on April 21, which will kick off a three-game series against the league opponent.