GREENSBORO, N.C. – Senior right-hander Connor Van Hoose collected 11 strikeouts in six innings of work, and Bucknell received big contributions from freshmen Dominic Toso and Brenden Tuttle en route to a 5-4 victory over North Carolina A&T on Friday at War Memorial Stadium.
Toso went 3-for-5 with three runs batted in, including a go-ahead two-run double in the seventh inning. Tuttle recorded the final five outs of the game for his first collegiate save, locking down Bucknell’s first win of the season after the Bison dropped its first six against Arkansas and Duke.
RBI singles by Luke Hartman and Toso in the top of the second erased an early 1-0 deficit. North Carolina A&T (3-6), which took 2 of 3 from Lehigh last weekend, plated single runs in the second and fourth to grab the lead back at 3-2, but the Bison erupted in the seventh thanks in part to some miscues in the field by the Aggies.
With one out, Hartman and Evan Madigan both reached on errors, then Toso sent a shot into right field for a double that scored both runners. Toso went to third on the throw to the plate, and one batter later he scampered home on a ground out by Evan Klugerman.
After working a scoreless seventh inning in relief of Van Hoose, Hunter Robichaux plunked the first two batters of the eighth inning. After a sacrifice bunt, Tuttle was called upon with men at second and third and one out. Myles Sowell hit a fly ball to right to score a run and make it a 5-4 game, but Tuttle struck out Forrest Kimbrell to end the inning.
Bucknell stranded a pair in the top of the ninth, and then Tuttle worked around a two-out walk in the bottom half, ending the game with a three-pitch strikeout of Camden Williamson.
This was Van Hoose’s second straight strong outing after a tough opener at Arkansas. He fanned nine and allowed just a single run and three hits over six innings in the series opener at Duke last week. This time he again worked through the sixth, yielding three runs on six hits, striking out 11 while walking two. The 11 punch-outs was one shy of his career high, set in a win over Massachusetts last season, and he moved into 12th place on Bucknell’s career strikeout list with 151.
Hartman went 2-for-4 in his second straight multi-hit game. He is now 5-for-11 in his last three games.
Tim Luth, who entered the game with a 2.19 earned run average, worked six innings for the Aggies, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out seven and walking three. Josh Bottenfield (0-2) took the loss after conceding the three unearned runs in the seventh.
These two teams will meet again in Game 2 of the series on Saturday at 2 p.m.