Leckie, Leeds Help Lafayette End PL Season with Win
WORCESTER, Mass. – Dan Leckie hit a go-ahead solo home run in the top of the eighth inning, and Mitch Leeds came through with seven strong innings on the mound to help Lafayette salvage a split of Sunday’s doubleheader at Holy Cross.
Leckie’s shot, his second of the year, broke up a 2-2 tie, and the Leopards would ultimately emerge with a 4-2 victory. Connor Jones retired the final four Crusaders to pick up his first save of the season. The win made up for a difficult Game 1 setback which saw Lafayette twice rally from deficits late in the game before giving up two runs in the bottom of the seventh to lose 6-5.
Despite the win, the Leopards (14-29, 7-13 PL) were eliminated from the Patriot League Postseason Tournament after Bucknell defeated Navy in the final game of today’s doubleheader between the two teams. That leaves the Bison with an 8-12 record in conference play, one game ahead of the Maroon and White for the fourth and final spot in the playoffs.
Holy Cross (25-24, 14-6 PL) was locked in as the No. 2 seed in the postseason after Lafayette’s Game 2 triumph.
Leopard starter John Cain struck out a career-high 10 batters over 5 2/3 innings of work, but the visitors found themselves trailing 2-0 after five. Nick Lovullo opened the scoring with a solo home run in the third, and the Crusaders added an unearned run in the fifth to double their advantage.
Lafayette leveled up the contest in the top-half of the sixth. After Leckie reached on a fielding error, Steven Cohen drove him in with an RBI double to the gap in right-center. Cohen moved over to third on a wild pitch, and he scored on an Alex Woinski sacrifice fly.
The deadlock did not last long, as Holy Cross plated two runs of its own in the bottom of the frame. Cain retired the first two batters in the inning, but he was removed from the contest after giving up four-consecutive hits.
Now faced with a 4-2 deficit, the Leopards scored three times in the seventh to grab their first lead. The second of two Crusader errors in the inning had the score at 4-3 with no outs and runners on first and second. A sacrifice bunt moved those runners to second and third, and Michael Coniglio came through with a clutch single up the middle to move the Maroon and White ahead.
Connor McMahon induced a fly out to begin the bottom of the seventh. The next batter, however, was credited with an infield single on a routine grounder up the middle which was misplayed, and Lafayette would not register another out in the game. The tying run came in on an RBI single to right by Bill Schlich, and Thomas Russo drew a walkoff-walk with the bases loaded off Ari Kaufman to clinch the win.
Lafayette fell behind 2-0 in the second game on a two-run homer by Alex Voitik in the second inning. Leeds was outstanding after that long ball, failing to allow a run over the next five innings to keep the Maroon and White within striking distance. He ultimately gave up three hits and three walks over seven innings, striking out five for his third quality start in Patriot League play.
The Leopards were held to three hits through the first five innings by starter Pat McGowan, but they doubled that total in a two-run sixth to tie the game. Andrew Landolfi began the rally with a leadoff double to right, and Coniglio followed with an infield single to shortstop.
Cohen brought them both home with another double to right-center two batters later. He ended the contest 3-for-4 to register his second three-hit game of the series, finishing the weekend 7-for-14 overall at the plate.
Lafayette nearly jumped ahead in the seventh. Spencer Rouse drove a two-out double to right, and Landolfi then took an 0-2 pitch to left field for his second hit of the game. Rouse, though, was thrown out at the plate by Schlich to keep the score at 2-2.
There was nothing, however, that the Holy Cross defense could do to prevent Leckie from crossing the plate, as the freshman cleared the wall in left with one out in the eighth to make it 3-2 in favor of the visitors.
Jones preserved the lead in the bottom of the frame. Entering with runners on first and second, he induced a grounder to Leckie at third base to maintain the one-run advantage. Campbell Lipe then tacked on a key insurance run with a long homer to left-center to lead off the ninth. The long ball was his fourth of the season, with three of them occurring in conference play.
Jones set the Crusaders down in order on 13 pitches in the bottom of the ninth to close out the win.
Coniglio had two hits in each of today’s games, raising his season average to a team-best .335.
Lafayette’s Game 2 victory snapped a seven-game losing streak overall, and it also ended a run of eight-straight defeats to Holy Cross.
The Leopards return to action on Tuesday afternoon, welcoming La Salle to Kamine Stadium for a 3:30 p.m. contest.