LEWISBURG, Pa. – The NCAA-bound Bucknell baseball team wrapped up a three-game series against Columbia Saturday afternoon at a sunny Depew Field and fell by a 4-3 score in 10 innings. The Bison led most of the way, but the Lions tied the score with an unearned run in the top of the eighth and then capitalized on a leadoff triple by Jordan Serena in the 10th to win for the 21st time in their last 24 games.
Bucknell will enter the NCAA Regionals with a 30-19-1 overall record, one shy of equaling the program standard for wins in a season. The Bison, who have not played on the road since April 20, finished with a strong 16-5 mark at Depew Field this season.
Bucknell initially took the lead with three runs in the bottom of the second and still led 3-2 in the top of the eighth when Columbia (29-18) evened the score. Bison reliever Xavier Hammond (3-5) opened his first inning of work by striking out David Vandercook, but he reached on a dropped third strike. Vandercook moved to second on a ground out and later scored on a two-out fielding error.
The Bison had two baserunners in the bottom of the eighth and went down 1-2-3 in the ninth as the game headed to extra innings.
Serena led off the top of the 10th with a triple into the right field corner. Vandercook followed with a sac fly to center to plate what proved to be the winning run.
For the third time in the three-game series, which featured a doubleheader split on Friday, Columbia scored in the first inning as it plated an unearned run in its first at bat. Serena, who reached on an error, scampered home from third before the tag could be applied on first-base runner Vandercook, who the Bison caught in a rundown, to end the inning.
Columbia’s lead was short-lived as the Bison scored three runs in the bottom of the second against starter Joey Donino, who struck out five and walked four in his two innings of work. The Bison batted around and their three runs were scored on successive bases-loaded walks to Brett Smith and Anthony Gingerelli, followed by a bases-loaded hit by pitch for Joe Ogren.
Thomas Crispi relieved Donino and retired 13 in a row before reaching his pitch count. The Bison had just three baserunners against four Lions relievers after the second inning.
Max Kra earned the start for Bucknell and pitched one out into the fifth inning before Mike Castellani took over. After allowing a hit and a walk to load the bases in the fifth, Castellani got a double play off the bat of Aaron Silbar and proceeded to retire the next six hitters in a row before giving way to Hammond to start the eighth.
The only hit Hammond yielded in his 3.0 innings of work was to Serena in the 10th.
Mike Weisman (2-0) earned the win for Columbia for pitching the eighth and ninth innings and not allowing a run.
Ogren had one of Bucknell’s three hits, extending his hitting streak to a team-best eight games. Smith and Meier also posted hits for the Bison.
Saturday’s contest marked just the second extra-inning game this season for Bucknell.The Bison will now turn their attention to NCAA play. Bucknell will gather as a team at Damon’s Grill in Lewisburg on Monday at noon to watch the selection show. NCAA Regionals will take place next weekend at 16 home sites across the country. This will be the Bison’s first NCAA appearance since 2010 and their sixth since 1996.