When it comes to offense, Lehigh baseball has been able to put together a start to its 2022 season unmatched by any other team in the conference.
The Mountain Hawks have scored 34 more runs than Lafayette, the second highest-scoring offense in the Patriot League.
That offense led to Lehigh’s 8-6 record going into its series against St. Bonaventure on the weekend of March 19.
In the opening game of the series on Friday and in both of the games in the Saturday doubleheader, coach Sean Leary ended went with the exact same batting order in all three games.
Leary said the amount of runs created from the offense led him to be satisfied with his current lineup.
“That’s a tribute to the guys earning the job,” Leary said. “And once they get the job, they’ve got to get their reps.”
While Lehigh’s offense has been able to put up numbers that stand out on paper, its defense has also been a key part of its recent streak, in which the Mountain Hawks had won four of their last five games going into Saturday.
Lehigh is tied for the lead in the conference in fielding percentage and has the lowest opponent batting average of any Patriot League team.
“Our defense has been the one consistent factor for us all year,” Leary said. “We’ve been making some outstanding plays along with the routine plays.”
In the first game of the series on Friday, senior pitcher Luke Rettig only allowed St. Bonaventure to score once in seven innings of work. A RBI single in the fifth inning which drove home sophomore Tyler Young allowed for Lehigh to take the lead by a score of 2-1 in the series opener.
Lehigh would not give up the lead for the rest of the game, adding three more runs in the seventh inning off of a Gerard Sweeney home run to give Lehigh a 5-1 win, with Rettig earning his fourth win of the year.
The Saturday doubleheader included the second and third games of the four-game series with St. Bonaventure, which entered the series winless on the year.
Lehigh won the first game 5-1 in an effort that was supported by a Sweeney home run, his second in his third game back in the lineup following injury.
Lehigh took the lead in the bottom of the first inning on a sacrifice fly by junior Adam Retzbach, driving in freshman Jake Whitlinger, who leads the team in runs scored.
Lehigh led 8-1 at the end of the second inning thanks to a scoring barrage that included a double from senior Casey Rother and freshman Rafe Perich’s third home run of the season.
On the mound, junior Carlos Torres started for Lehigh and struck out seven batters. After three innings of work from Torres, senior Nick Pave took the mound as Lehigh attempted to hold onto a five-run lead.
The Lehigh offense’s run support had given Pave room to work with as he began his relief outing.
“It takes a lot of pressure off,” Pave said. “You can have a couple of mistakes and it might not necessarily matter as much.”
Pave pitched four innings and only gave up one run as Lehigh added on to its tally in the fifth inning, with an error allowing Young and Whitlinger to score. Lehigh put on one more run in the sixth inning to take the first game of the doubleheader, 12-5.
In the second game, Lehigh found itself shut out in each of the first four innings. Rother drove home his first run of the series in the fifth, singling to right-center field and bringing home Whitlinger, which opened the scoring for Lehigh.
Trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning, freshman Justin Butler launched a home run over the right-center field wall, only days after having a breakout game in which he recorded two home runs and five RBIs. Butler’s six home runs on the season are a team high.
“Just hitting the ball far adds to your ability to swing the bat,” Butler said. “It just makes you feel good.”
That moment was followed by Lehigh scoring seven more runs unanswered, taking game two by a score of 9-5, going up three games to none in the four game series.
In the final game of the series, Butler picked up his fourth home run of the week to open an offensive performance including five Sweeney RBIs. Sophomore Riley Davis also scored in the fourth inning. Junior Ben Christian picked up his second career win as he pitched a shutout into the sixth inning, giving up only three hits.
Lehigh would go on to win the game 8-1, completing the series sweep.