This year’s matchup brings a new element to the Rivalry
Lafayette baseball will be playing their long-time rivals this weekend, but this time there will be more at stake than pride: one win in the series will earn them a spot in the playoffs.
Still, a sweep wouldn’t exactly eliminate the Leopards from playoff contention. If Bucknell and Army were to sweep Holy Cross and Navy this weekend, then Lafayette’s season would be over.
This past weekend the Leopards took victory in their series against Bucknell, winning three of the four games, including a double-header sweep on Sunday in part to the efforts of starting pitchers senior Toby Schwartz and junior Ari Kaufman. Schwartz tossed a complete game in the first game, allowing just three this.
The Leopard’s bats are also hot heading into this weekend. Junior Campbell Lipe picking up Patriot League Player of the Week honors after going 7-13 from the plate, scoring four runs and driving in three batters.
Sophomore Alex Woinski ended last weekend with a pinch-hit three run homerun when the Leopards were trailing 3-2 in the second game on Sunday. Woinski is on the injured list this week, but may be ready for action this Saturday with limited practice this week.
Last year the Mountain Hawks bested the Leopards, winning three of four regular season games. Their lone win came by a narrow margin of 2-1. Lafayette last won a series against Lehigh in the 2012 season, beating Lehigh three games to one.
“If we win one game we’re definitely in—which is nice—but we also have to look at it as it’s just another weekend with a little extra motivation to beat Lehigh for this last series,” said junior pitcher Connor McMahon.
The last time the Leopards made it to the playoffs was in 2012, when this year’s seniors were freshmen. Lafayette faced Army in the first round of the Patriot League playoffs and found them ahead of Army 6-0 in the fourth inning. However, Army amounted a comeback to win 8-6 and subsequently carried the momentum into the second game of the series, winning 6-3.
“It’s an exciting last weekend of conference play,” said senior James McCool. “It’s nice to know we have to win one game to go to playoffs and it will be a good feeling to go since it’s been so long. But we can’t get ahead of ourselves and have to focus one game at a time.”
The Leopards first game of the series is set for noon on Saturday.