WEST POINT, N.Y. – Patriot League Preseason Pitcher of the Year Connor Van Hoose struck out a career-high 14 batters while allowing just one hit over six innings, setting the tone for a brilliant day for the Bucknell pitching staff in a doubleheader sweep of Army West Point at Doubleday Field on Saturday. The Bison won by scores of 4-1 and 5-1 and improved to 4-6 in Patriot League play. The Black Knights had won five straight coming in, including a 4-0 start in the Patriot League.
Van Hoose, who was saddled with a tough 1-0 loss to Army one week earlier despite taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning at Depew Field, continues to climb up the Bucknell career strikeout list. He now has 187 and has vaulted all the way up to the No. 3 spot behind Don Richards (354 from 1954-56) and Jack Recco (195 from 1974-77).
While the pitching was the lead story, Bucknell had plenty of timely hitting as well. Miles Moore delivered the big blow in the opener, a tiebreaking three-run homer in the top of the sixth. In game two, Bucknell took advantage of five walks in a three-run third inning, then got clutch hits from Evan Klugerman and Luke Hartman to plate two big insurance runs in the top of the ninth.
Bucknell and Army have now split four games this season, with the road team winning all four. The rubber match comes on Sunday, when the Bison and Black Knights will play a single game starting at noon. The contest can be seen live on the Patriot League Network at PatriotLeague.tv.
Bucknell 4, Army 1 – Game 1
Van Hoose picked up his third win of the season and surpassed his previous career high of 12 strikeouts, set last season against Massachusetts. It was his third double-digit strikeout performance of the season. After no-hitting Army through six innings last weekend, he allowed just one hit over six this time.
Van Hoose’s biggest menace was leadoff hitter Jacob Hurtubise. The Patriot League leader with 15 stolen bases coming into the game, Hurtubise set a team record with six steals in this one, even though he did not record a hit.
Hurtubise was nicked by a pitch leading off the bottom of the first inning. He swiped both second and third, and then scored the game’s first run on a ground out by Jon Rosoff. In the third inning, Hurtuise drew a one-out walk and again stole second and third, but Van Hoose retired Drake Titus on a foul out and then struck out Rosoff to end the threat.
Army again put a man on third with one down in the fourth after a single, a wild pitch, and a passed ball, but Van Hoose fanned Trey Martin and got Josh White on a fly ball to right field. One inning later, Hurtubise again walked with one out and stole his way around to third before Van Hoose caught Titus looking and fanned Rosoff swinging.
For all of his hard work with men on base, Van Hoose still found himself on the wrong side of a 1-0 game until the Bison bats finally broke through in the sixth against Tyler Giovinco. Scales started the rally with a single and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Dominic Toso. Cam Opp came out of the Army buillpen and plunked Evan Madigan, and then Luke Johnson tied the game with a base hit. One out later, Moore blasted his third home run of year to deep left field, a three-run shot that put Bucknell on top 4-1.
Buoyed by the run support, Van Hoose struck out the side in the sixth, giving him five straight Ks to end his day. Grisius earned his first save with a scoreless ninth. He walked the leadoff batter in the inning, but got a fielder’s choice and two strikeouts to end it.
Bucknell finished with four runs on five hits, while Army had one run on just one hit. John McKenna’s leadoff single in the fourth was the Black Knights’ lone base hit.
Bucknell 5, Army 1 – Game 2
Gottesman had a tough act to follow in game two, but he continued his stellar junior season. Gottesman conceded only an unearned run on five hits over seven innings while striking out six. Robichaux got the final six outs for his first save, fanning three while allowing just one hit.
Army starter Sam Messina had an interesting day, striking out nine but walking five in 5.1 innings. The walks caught up to him in the third inning, when Bucknell scored three times to take the lead.
After Messina retired the first six hitters with five Ks, Keifer Rawlings walked to lead off the third inning, and one out later he went to second on the first of Scales’ four hits. Both runners moved up on a ground ball, but then Hartman walked to load the bases. A wild pitch brought Rawlings home, and then Johnson walked to re-load the bases. Tyler Wincig and Moore followed with two more bases on balls to send runners home, and the Bison led 3-0 with the benefit of only one base hit.
Army got one of the runs back in the bottom of the fourth. Gottesman’s throwing error sent McKenna to second with one out, and one batter later he scored on a sac fly by Martin.
That would be all the Black Knights would muster off of Gottesman. He worked around a pair of one-out singles in the fifth, fanning Tim Simoes and Rosoff to escape the jam. Gottesman erased a walk with a line-drive double play to end the sixth inning, and he stranded a leadoff double in the seventh.
After Robichaux had a 1-2-3 eighth, Bucknell tacked on two insurance runs in the top of the ninth. Rawlings started the rally with a double, and he moved to third on a balk. Klugerman singled him home, then Scales reached on a bunt single. Evan Madigan moved both runners up with a sac bunt, and Hartman singled through the hole on the left side to score Klugerman. The Bison nearly had another, but Hurtubise threw out Scales at the plate trying to score on Johnson’s fly ball.
Anthony Giachin singled to start the bottom of the ninth, but Robichaux retired the next three Black Knights with a strikeout and two ground outs.