Lehigh readies itself for matchups at Navy Saturday and Sunday

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – A week removed from its last time in action, the Lehigh baseball team gets back to work in a crucial road Patriot League series in Annapolis, taking on Navy for a doubleheader Saturday at 1 pm and a single game Sunday at 1 pm as well. All three games will be streamed live on ESPN + (subscription required).

The Mountain Hawks (16-16, 4-7 PL) dropped two out of three games to first-place Army West Point last weekend at Walker Field before having their mid-week contest vs. Ursinus canceled on Wednesday afternoon.

In a four-game week, senior outfielder Chase Carlson was named a Patriot League honorable mention after batting .583 (7-for-12) with a slugging percentage of .750 and posting a .600 on-base percentage, driving in four runs with two runs scored in a pair of three-hit games against Saint Joseph’s and Army West Point. Despite playing just half of Lehigh’s game against the Hawks on Wednesday and missing the first game Saturday, sophomore Andrew Nole also had a highly-productive offensive week at the plate, slashing .600 / .600 / .800 in three games with six hits, two doubles and two RBIs.

Senior Joe Gorla has put up some elite numbers since being inserted back into the lineup after missing the first 25 games due to injury. In just eight games, Gorla is slashing .444 / .531 / .778 with an OPS of 1.309 and 12 hits with three doubles and two home runs. He has driven in five runs with 10 runs scored and has a hit in all eight games this year. Gorla’s reached base streak is at 17 straight games dating back to last season.

Senior Casey Rother (.313) and first-year Jake Whitlinger (.302) are both hitting above .300 in the starting lineup this season, with the latter returning from an injury suffered against Lafayette a couple weeks ago. Sophomore shortstop Tyler Young is slashing .295 / .412 / .389 in 31 games this year with six doubles and 18 runs driven in. He was just named to the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List on Tuesday, awarded to the nation’s top shortstop.

Senior left-hander Luke Rettig (6-2, 0.98 ERA) suffered his first loss in nearly a month against Army West Point in Game 1 Saturday, surrendering two runs, one earned on three hits with four strikeouts and four walks in 5.1 innings of work against the Black Knights. Rettig’s ERA is good for third in the nation and has allowed just five earned runs (nine total) in 46.0 innings, striking out 50 with 22 walks.

Fellow senior lefty Matt Stamford (3-3, 5.40) has really made an impact as a key front-end starter of the rotation as of late, earning a victory in each of his previous two starts including an impressive seven-inning performance against Army Saturday, a 3- 2 victory for the Mountain Hawks. He struck out two with three walks in 7.0 innings of work, giving up two runs, one earned on five hits leading into Nick Pave’s two-inning save, his third of the year. Stamford has struck out 29 with 14 walks in 38.1 innings this year, making seven starts in eight appearances.

Junior right-hander Ben Christian (2-3, 4.81) will likely be Lehigh’s third starter on the weekend after struggling against Army in Sunday’s 14-4 loss. He allowed four runs on seven hits with two strikeouts in 4.2 frames. Aside from the starting rotation, first-year Jack Hamilton (2-0, 3.65), sophomore Tyler Thompson (0-1, 3.86) and junior Ryan Deom (0-0, 6.23) have been Lehigh’s most consistent arms out of the bullpen this season in addition to Pave (1-1, 6.30) who has established himself as the closer with a team-high three saves.

Navy has three consecutive wins with a series victory at Holy Cross over the weekend in which the Midshipmen (15-18, 6-9 PL) out-scored the Crusaders, 38-15 and then a 13-10 victory at Mount St. Mary’s Wednesday afternoon, resulting in head coach Paul Kostacopoulos’ 1000th career win.

The Mids currently sit in fourth place in the Patriot League standings with 10 games remaining. They split the series with Lehigh back at the beginning of April in Bethlehem, who are currently slotted in fifth position.

Junior outfielder Colin Smith was named Patriot League Player of the Week on Tuesday after hitting .526 over five games, reaching base at a clip of .625. He racked up 10 hits with three for extra bases, equating to a slugging percentage of .789 with 10 RBIs. In Navy’s 20-5 win over Holy Cross in Sunday’s second game of doubleheader, Smith went 4-for-6 at the plate with a double, a grand slam and seven RBIs. His seven runs driven are the third-most in a single game in program history.

Smith is batting .284 (29-for-102) with five doubles, three homers and 24 RBIs in 30 games this season for the Mids. Christian Policelli remains the hottest hitter in the Navy lineup this season, batting .352 with 45 hits, 10 doubles, two triples and two homers with 22 RBIs. He’s slugging .508 with an on-base percentage of .425 in 33 games this year. Colin Smith and Logan Keller are both tied for the team lead in home runs with three this season while Alex Smith is second on the team in batting with an average of .286, five doubles, two triples and two home runs with 21 RBIs.

On the mound, Reece Early (0-1, 3.65 ERA) has made four starts and has struck out seven with seven walks, while Liam Golden (2-5, 2.97) has made a total of seven starts with 20 strikeouts and five walks . Navy pitching has an ERA of 6.37 this season with Nolan Jorgenson (3-0, 1.72) by far leading the way in relief in 16 appearances, striking out 12 with seven walks in 31.1 innings to his name.

As mentioned before, Lehigh and Navy have split the season series so far one game apiece with one team looking to come out on the forefront this year with the Mountain Hawks looking to take the series for the second consecutive season.

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