Holy cross

Mountain Hawks start critical weekend series against Holy Cross on Saturday

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — The final seven league games of the regular season are critical for the Lehigh baseball team, closing out the home roster this weekend with three games against Holy Cross at J. David Walker Field — a doubleheader Saturday and a singles match on Sunday – both starting at noon. Saturday’s doubleheader is Senior Day as the program will honor seven members of the senior class and both matches will be broadcast live on ESPN+ (subscription required).

The Mountain Hawks (21-19, 8-10 PL) play five of their last seven games against the Crusaders to wrap up the year, still seeking a berth in the Patriot League tournament for the second straight season.

Lehigh is coming off a series win over Bucknell after dominating the Bison in two of three games last weekend at Lewisburg. The Mountain Hawks earned a 9-4 midweek win over Cairn Thursday afternoon at Walker Field on a two-hit performance from the pitching staff with 13 hits for the offense.

Junior right-handed Will Grisack (1-2, 8.27 ERA) pushed three relief innings with no hits and no runs allowed, striking out three with zero walks to earn his first win of the year against the Highlanders. Six pitchers combined to allow two hits, taking a no-hitter in the eighth inning.

At plate, four players recorded multi-hit plays in sophomore year Tyler Young went 3 for 5 with two RBIs.

Senior Casey Rother continues to be the catalyst for Lehigh’s offense, leading the team with a .348 batting average in 40 games for the Mountain Hawks this year. He totaled 56 hits with 15 doubles, one triple and five homers, making a total of 33 runs. Youth (.339), sophomore Riley Davis (.330) and senior Joe Gorla (.328) are all hitting above .300 this season to lead the offense.

Lehigh’s offense combined to total 38 home runs as a team this season, the most in the Patriot League. The number is led by junior by Adam Retzbach Eight long balls lead the Patriot League this season, a career high for the catcher. Retzbach also had a team-high 39 runs with 40 hits in 40 games.

On the mound, senior southpaw Luke Rettig (7-2, 2.14) has been phenomenal all season and continues to lead the rotation, looking for its eighth win of the season on Saturday. His eighth win would tie him with Joe Matteo in 2006 for the second-most single-season wins in program history. The program’s record holder is Dave Cerminaro in 2002 with nine. Rettig struck out 57 batters with 25 walks. With 193 career strikeouts, he is just seven of 200 for his career, which would make him the fifth player in program history to reach the milestone and the first since Matteo ’08.

Senior left-handed Matt Stamford (3-4, 5.51) has been effective in starts lately and will be an important piece of the rotation puzzle this weekend. Stamford struck out 36 with 19 walks in 49.0 innings, totaling nine starts. Junior right-handed Ben Christian (2-4, 5.31) also had success in the rotation with 23 strikeouts in 40.2 innings of work.

Holy Cross (13-32, 7-11 PL) has won back-to-back games, including a weekend win over Lafayette on Sunday and a 3-1 win at Dartmouth on Tuesday. The Crusaders won the weekend series over the Leopards by winning two of the weekend’s three games.

Freshman Nick Wang is a candidate for Patriot League Player of the Year this season with his .376 batting average in 37 games, totaling 50 hits with 18 doubles, a triple and a homer. He also walked 25 times and hit base at a .479 clip. He’s the only Crusader to top .300 this season with Sean Scanlon (.294) and Sam Kirkpatrick (.288) trailing.

In 12 appearances, Luke Fox (2-1, 3.31) leads the Crusaders bullpen with 13 strikeouts and just three walks in 16.1 innings, while Trevor Neff (3-1, 4.08) has gone 18 outings this season with 23 strikeouts and six walks in 28.2 innings.

Jack DiLauro (0-5, 5.21), Nate Chudy (2-4, 4.55) and Alex Bryant (0-1, 4.00) are three names likely to keep an eye on this weekend for reference at the starting rotation of Holy Cross.

The Crusaders hold a slim all-time series lead over Lehigh, 69-61. The Mountain Hawks took three of four from the Crusaders last year, including a big season-ending win at Worcester to clinch the Patriot League regular-season title.

Lehigh will honor seven senior class members – Chase Carlson, Gerard Sweeney, Joe Gorla, Luke Rettig, Nick Pavé, Casey Rother and Matt Stamford – with a special pre-match ceremony at 11:40 a.m. Saturday morning before the first pitch of the doubleheader.

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