Lehigh baseball defeated Lafayette 7-6 in 10 innings on a walk-off hit by Casey Rother at J. David Walker Field Wednesday afternoon.
A Gerard Sweeney leadoff double was all Lehigh needed to start off their victory inning. Rother knocked him home on the next play. The Mountain Hawks are now 7-2 in League play, which is the best start in program history.
Junior Luke Rettig pitched eight innings giving up zero earned runs.
“That’s where we won the ballgame,” said head coach Sean Leary. “Even though Lafayette scraped back, Luke (Rettig) was the guy who gave us the victory today.”
In the bottom of the first inning, Lehigh’s Joe Gorla hit an RBI double to knock home leadoff hitter senior outfielder Eric Cichocki to give the Mountain Hawks a 1-0 lead.
Lehigh’s defense struggled in the third inning, giving up multiple two-out errors leading to Lafayette scoring four runs on only two hits and no walks.
In the fourth inning, Quinn McKenna and Cichocki scored on a passed ball to trim the Leopard’s lead to 4-3 after four innings.
After Rettig hit two batters in the fifth inning, McKenna made a running catch in center field to end the Lafayette threat and keep the lead at 4-3.
Lehigh tied the game at four when Andrew Nole scored on a passed ball in the fifth inning after an Adam Retzbach double.
The Mountain Hawks retook the lead after Nole hit a two-RBI single in the bottom half of the sixth.
Rettig finished his brilliant performance with 0 earned runs in eight innings pitched, striking out seven and walking one batter.
A two-out rally from Lafayette tied the game in the ninth inning and forced the rivalry to extra innings.
“We were resilient even though we knew we didn’t play a sharp game,” Leary said. “At the end, if you have one more run and get a win, you can build off it. I wouldn’t say that was pretty, but rival wins are big, and league wins are big.”