Lehigh wins decisive Game 3 in 10 innings to claim Patriot League title
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Lehigh won the Patriot League championship on Sunday afternoon at top-seeded Navy when the Mountain Hawks gutted out a 4-3, 10-inning win in the championship series' decisive Game 3. The Mountain Hawks add the program's second league crown after winning the championship in 2006 and earn the league's automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.
Navy was able force a Game 3 after picking up a 9-8, 11-inning win in Game 2 that was suspended Saturday and resumed Sunday. The Mountain Hawks then followed the lead of senior starting pitcher Nick Macaione in Game 3 as he fired all 10 innings while allowing just three runs, only two of which were earned, on five hits with four strikeouts. Senior Connor Faust recorded the game-winning RBI in the top of the 10th inning.
Junior Mike Garzillo was named the Patriot League tournament most outstanding player after tallying 11 RBI and five home runs throughout Lehigh's six postseason games. Macaione, senior Nick Stephens and junior Kevin Boswick were also named to the all-tournament team.
The decisive Game 3 was scoreless for the first three and a half innings until the Mids put up two runs in the bottom of the fourth frame. Lehigh answered right away by putting up a three spot in the top of the fifth. Senior Tim McKay was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning before freshman James Bleming singled through the left side. Senior Justin Pacchioli laid down a fielder's choice sacrifice bunt and a Navy throwing error allowed McKay to run home and put Lehigh on the board. Sophomore Jacen Nalesnik followed with an RBI groundout to shortstop to tie the game at two before Garzillo sent a sacrifice fly to center field to give Lehigh a 3-2 lead.
After a scoreless sixth inning, Navy was able to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh on an RBI triple from Logan Knowles. Macaione kept the Mids off the board for the eighth and ninth to send the game into extra innings.
Garzillo opened the top of the tenth with a double to right field. Senior John Elson knocked an infield single a batter later. Following a strikeout, Faust faced an 0-2 count and ripped a single up the middle to score the game-winning run.
Macaione took care of the rest, getting a foul out to open the bottom of the 10th before striking out two Mids and earned the 4-3 win and Patriot League championship.
In Game 2, Lehigh took an early 3-0 lead before the Mids rallied to take a 7-4 lead in the seventh. The Mountain Hawks scored three in the bottom of the seventh before Navy went ahead 8-7 in the eighth. Garzillo's home run then tied the game in the eighth inning before senior J.R. Edwards kept the Mids off the board in the ninth and 10th. Nalesnik roped a leadoff double to open the bottom of the 10th before the game was suspended.
The series' second game resumed at noon Sunday when Garzillo was up to bat with a 1-0 count and Nalesnik stood on second. Navy's Jett Meenach finished his intentional walk to Garzillo before the Mids brought on Kyle Condry who sat down the next three Mountain Hawks to send the game to the top of the 11th.
Junior Brandon Kulp took the mound for Lehigh as Navy's Sean Trent sent a leadoff single to right field before advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt. Trent then scored on a wild pitch to give the Mids a 9-8 lead. Condry followed by sitting down the Mountain Hawks in order in the bottom of the 11th to send the game to a decisive final game.