Lehigh baseball defeated Navy 5-0 in the last game of a three-game series on May 16 to advance to the Patriot League Championship.
The Mountain Hawks will play Army in the Patriot League Championship on May 25 and May 26 in a best-of-three game series.
Junior pitcher Luke Retting threw seven innings, giving up no runs on three hits and striking out eight batters.
Lehigh completed their third shutout of the season and second shutout against Navy.
Patriot League Player of the Year Casey Rother led the Mountain Hawks offense with a three-run home run in the third inning, three of Lehigh’s five third-inning runs.
“Our MVP had a rough day yesterday, and we called it in the pregame talk,” said head coach Sean Leary, “I said we were here five years ago where my MVP went 0-8, and then he hit a three-run home run to win the game. I don’t know if that’s prophetic, but Mike (Garzillo) did it.”
Junior first baseman Gerard Sweeney picked up where he left off yesterday with a first-inning double off the right-center field wall. Lehigh was not able to capitalize through when junior Casey Rother hit a screaming line drive to the left-field wall, but Navy caught it and caught Sweeney tagging up from second base.
Lehigh’s top six batters in the order all registered a hit in the game.
In the second inning, junior Joe Gorla hit a leadoff single, and senior Quinn McKenna walked to create another opportunity for the Mountain Hawks. Freshman Tyler Young couldn’t knock in the runners in scoring position, striking out looking to end the inning.
Rettig walked two men in the third inning but escaped trouble when third baseman Joe Gorla turned an inning-ending double play, stepping on third-base and throwing to first base.
Eric Cichocki hit a one-out double to start the third inning offense. After Sweeney walked, Rother hit a towering three-run home run over the left-field to give Lehigh the first lead of the game, 3-0.
Lehigh’s offense didn’t stop in the third inning. Freshman Andrew Nole hit a two-out double to score sophomore catcher Adam Retzbach, extending Lehigh’s lead to 4-0.
Army’s pitchers struggled with location on their pitches throughout the game, walking four batters, including three walks in the third inning.
“It got easier as the game went on almost,” Rettig said. “They were pressing.”
In the fifth inning, Lehigh ran into trouble. Two hits and a walk for the midshipmen had bases loaded with no outs. Lehigh initiated a double play when Joe Simourian bounced out to the pitcher, Rettig threw home, and Retzbach threw to first to complete the double play. Rettig then struck out Eduardo Diaz to finish the inning.
“[Luke] is an emotional kid, and he rides that emotion,” Leary said. “That at-bat turned the momentum in the game. We had a lot more opportunities up until that point and just couldn’t hit the ball hard and push anything across. I think every team has one moment where they have to work their way out, and he did that.”
Rettig pitched seven innings giving up no runs on three hits striking out eight batters, and throwing 117 pitches.
Sophomore Will Grisack got the final six outs of the shutout, retiring all six batters he faced.
“This was an emotional series in the middle of finals,” Leary said. “ We were exhausted. We put it all on the line.”