WORCESTER, Mass. – Cam Meyer looped a 1-2 pitch right on the chalk down the right-field line to plate the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning, sending Holy Cross to an 8-7 win over Bucknell in Patriot League baseball action on Tuesday night at Hanover Insurance Park. The Bison, who had already locked up a Patriot League Tournament berth, finish the regular season with a 13-11-1 conference record, while the Crusaders improved to 11-10 and clinched a postseason bid of their own.
In the make-up of a rained out game from Apr. 15, Bucknell got out to a good start and led 7-3 after scoring runs in each of the first four frames. But the Bison went just 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and could not find any tack-on runs. Holy Cross then tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the eighth and won it with one more in the ninth.
Dominic Toso was in the middle of the early rallies with a double and a triple, and Luke Hartman also had two hits for the Bison. Meyer and Thomas Russo logged three hits apiece for the Crusaders, and Meyer scored four runs from the leadoff spot.
In a three-hour, 46-minute affair that was slowed by a combined 15 walks and seven hit batsmen, it was a hit by pitch that set the winning rally in motion. Bison reliever Brenden Tuttle had just done a magnificent job keeping the game tied after entering in the eighth in a 7-7 game with a man at third and only one out. Tuttle retired the first batter in the bottom of the ninth, but then Alex Volpi was nicked by a pitch for the third time in the game. He moved up a base on a wild pickoff throw, and then consecutive walks loaded the bases. Tuttle quickly got ahead in the count before Meyer flipped one that landed fair by inches, sending home Volpi with the winning run.
This week’s Patriot League Player of the Week Chuckie Scales was moved up to the leadoff spot in this one, and right off the bat he helped the Bison grab the lead. Scales led off the game with a four-pitch walk, stole both second and third, and scored on a Luke Johnson ground ball. Toso followed with a triple, and he scored on an infield hit by Hartman.
Holy Cross tied it with two in the bottom of the first, but the Bison went back ahead in the second when Evan Madigan was plunked with the bases loaded. Cam O’Neill squared things up again in the bottom half with a two-out RBI single before Bucknell added two more runs in both the third and fourth.
A Hartman single and two walks loaded the bases with none out in the third. Alex Baumann’s bid for a grand slam was caught at the wall in center field. The sac fly resulted in an extra run when the throw back to the infield got away from the relay man.
In the fourth, Madigan led off with a walk and scored all the way from first on Toso’s double into the right-field corner. After two more bases on balls, Toso later scored on a wild pitch.
The Crusaders got those two runs right back in the bottom of the fourth. Meyer was hit by a pitch to start the inning, then Madigan made a diving stop on Russo’s ground ball at shortstop, but the throw to second was wide of the bag and ended up all the way in foul territory in right field. That allowed a run to score and Russo to end up all the way at third base, where he scored one batter later on a ground out.
Christian Tailor relieved Tyler Wincig in the fifth and did not allow a hit in two scoreless innings, and Hunter Robichaux followed with a scoreless seventh inning. But Holy Cross tied the game in the eighth on Russo’s two-run single to right field. The Crusaders seemed poised to take the lead when Russo advanced to third with one out, but Tuttle came out of the bullpen and got a strikeout and a fly out to get out of trouble for the moment.
Despite suffering their ninth one-run loss of the season, the Bison won the season series from the Crusaders three games to two. Fourth-place Holy Cross still has a pair of doubleheaders with Lafayette and Lehigh coming up this weekend. If the Crusaders can win three of those four games, they would pass Bucknell for the No. 3 seed.