Fifth-year infielder Gerard Sweeney prepares to play defense in a Lehigh baseball game. Sweeney has recorded 32 hits in 34 games this season. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

Lehigh baseball struggles in Patriot League play


Having just begun conference play, Lehigh baseball is experiencing a string of losses.

The team has won only five of their past 21 games and is 1-10 in the Patriot League, sitting in last place.

Starting the season winning only one of their first three games, Lehigh went on to win eight of their next nine games. During this streak, they beat non-conference teams Manhattan College, Coppin State and Utah Valley. 

On March 11, Lehigh had a 9-4 record — the best non-conference record in the Patriot League at that point. Since then, they have won only one multi-game series. 

First-year infielder Dom Patrizi said the team has been fatigued in recent games.

“We just gotta get back to what we were doing in the beginning of the year when we were winning,” Patrizi said.

Patrizi has exhibited a strong performance this year, recording hits in over 41% of his plate appearances.

Fifth-year pitcher Luke Rettig was named the 2023 Patriot League Preseason Pitcher of the Year. His 2.80 ERA ranks second among Lehigh pitchers who have thrown at least two innings this year. 

Rettig said the team has been focusing too much on trying to be perfect  over the recent stretch.

“We are just kind of putting the pressure on ourselves to play perfect day in and day out, and that’s just not sustainable,” Rettig said.

Sophomore outfielder Andrew Kohl had similar concerns about the team’s struggles against Patriot League opponents. He said playing while stressed makes it hard to succeed.

He said when the team plays uptight, they focus more on their bad moments, making it hard to move on from mistakes.

Some of Lehigh’s conference losses have come when they have taken an early lead against their opponents, including games on March 31 and April 1 against Lafayette, where they led by five and three runs, respectively.

The week prior, the team lost two games against Bucknell, where they held leads in the early innings.

Kohl said the team needs to focus on consistency in order to hold onto their early leads and win.

“We don’t just stay with the same aggression that we had at the beginning of the game,” Kohl said. “It just ends up catching up with us later on.”

The team has 14 more games against Patriot League opponents to improve the direction of their season.

While Rettig said he believes all aspects of their performance can be improved, one specific area stands out: if everyone keeps working hard individually, the team will play better.

Although the team has experienced adversity this season, Patrizi said they have become a more cohesive unit since the start of the season.

“You learn a lot about your teammates and how they are when things don’t go your way,” Patrizi said. “I feel like that’s made us closer as a team, and it’s really putting us a step in the right direction from that standpoint.” 

Lehigh baseball will play next against Holy Cross in an away series of four games beginning on April 15.

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