May 15, 2005
West Point, NY - Lehigh's Patriot League championship aspirations came to an end on Sunday afternoon as the Mountain Hawks were beaten by Army 10-1 at Doubleday Field. The Black Knights tagged Lehigh pitching for 10 runs on 13 hits as they sweep the best of three championship series 2-0 to claim their second straight Patriot League Tournament title. The Mountain Hawks could only muster a ninth inning run on eight singles as their season comes to an end at 26-21-1. Army heads to the NCAA regionals with a 37-11 record.
The Black Knights took an early lead in the top of the second inning when first baseman Walker Gorham drilled a home run to right centerfield, the first of four Army blasts on the day. The designated visiting team in the second game of the championship series, Army added another run in the third inning and extended its lead to 4-0 when Cole White smacked a two run homer to centerfield off of Lehigh starter Joe Matteo. Gorham's second blast of the game made it 5-0 Army in the sixth.
Matteo allowed five runs on eight hits in seven innings of work with a walk, two strikeouts and three home runs allowed as his record drops to 3-5. Prior to Sunday, the freshman hurler had only allowed two homers all season.
Army put the game out of reach in the top of the eighth, exploding for five more runs off of Lehigh senior righthander Matt Mezzancello; the big blow being Gorham's third home run of the game. Gorham finished 3-for-4 with four runs batten in and was named the tournament's most valuable player.
Offensively the Mountain Hawks were held off the scoreboard until the ninth inning when Mike Sandonato delivered an RBI single to score Andrew Smith. A trio of Army pitchers held Lehigh to just eight singles on the day. Justin Kashner threw seven shutout innings to record the win for Army. Freshman centerfielder Joe Ercolano was 3-for-4 in a losing effort for the Brown and White.
"You have to give (Army) credit," explained Lehigh head coach Sean Leary after the game. "They played well in all phases of the game and flat-out beat us today. They deserved to win."
Army advances to the NCAA regionals, beginning June 3 at a time and place to be determined. The loss completes the second winningest season in school history for the Mountain Hawks; a year in which Lehigh won 26 games and qualified for a school record fourth straight Patriot League Tournament.