GREENSBORO, N.C. – Bucknell sophomore JohnPaul Bell homered for the fourth time in the last five games, but North Carolina A&T erased a 4-2 deficit with a five-run bottom of the eighth and then held on to defeat the Bison 7-6 on Sunday at War Memorial Stadium. The Aggies salvaged the series finale after Bucknell won tight games on Friday and Saturday.
Luke Johnson, Miles Moore, Keifer Rawlings and Evan Madigan all had two-hit games to lead Bucknell’s 11-hit attack, with Moore and Madigan driving in two runs apiece. Starting pitcher Jack Grabek allowed two runs on three hits while striking out five over five innings of work. He departed with the lead but was left with a no-decision after the North Carolina A&T rally.
The Aggies went up 2-0 with single runs in the first and third innings, but the Bison took the lead with three in the fourth. Johnson led off the frame with a triple, Bell walked, and Moore laced a single to center to get Bucknell on the board. After Alex Baumann moved the runners up with a bunt, Rawlings brought Bell home with an infield ground out. Madigan, who had four hits in game two on Saturday, singled home Moore to make it a 3-2 game.
Moore’s RBI double in the fourth gave Bucknell a 4-2 advantage, and it remained that way until the bottom of the eighth, which has been a trouble spot for the Bison early in the season. Tyler Wincig retired two of the first three batters in the inning, but he departed after a walk, leaving men on first and second. Milton Rivera greeted Hunter Robichaux (0-1) with a triple that tied the game, and then Rivera scored on a wild pitch. After a single by Adan Ordonez, A.J. Hunt cracked a two-run homer for a 7-4 Aggies lead.
Bucknell had plenty of life in the ninth. After blowing a save opportunity a day earlier, Leon Hunter came out of the North Carolina A&T bullpen and was immediately greeted by Bell’s round-tripper to right field. With two outs, Rawlings reached on an infield hit, and Madigan doubled him home. But Hunter induced an infield pop-out to strand the tying run at second.
Jonah Owenby (1-0) picked up the win with a scoreless inning of relief for the Aggies. Zach McLean had three of their 11 hits.
Bell’s four home runs are the most in the Patriot League, as no other player has more than one. He also leads the league with a .618 slugging percentage.
Next up for the Bison is a single game at Mount St. Mary’s on Wednesday at 3 p.m.