WEST POINT, N.Y. – Senior Connor Van Hoose backed up his Patriot League Pitcher of the Year billing when he threw a nine-inning complete game to help Bucknell to a 4-1 victory in the opener of a best-of-three Patriot League Tournament semifinal series on Saturday at Doubleday Field. Army came back and claimed the rain-delayed nightcap, 11-7.
The Bison and Black Knights will play a third and deciding game on Sunday at noon. The game will be streamed on the Patriot League Network at Patriot League.tv.
The Bison will be trying to gain a berth in the Patriot League championship series for the second year in a row. Top-seeded Navy and No. 4 Holy Cross split the first two games of their semifinal series and will also play a deciding game on Sunday.
Game 1: Bucknell 4, Army 1
Bucknell took a page out of Army’s playbook, using a couple of key stolen bases to set up two seventh-inning runs that snapped a 1-1 tie. Those were all that Van Hoose (8-4) would need, as he posted 11 strikeouts in his sixth complete game of the season.
JohnPaul Bell, back in the lineup after a 10-game injury absence, led off the seventh inning with a walk, chasing Army starter Tyler Giovinco (7-5). Cam Opp came out of the bullpen and struck out two straight hitters before Bell swiped second. That proved big when All-Patriot League centerfielder Chuckie Scales chopped a single up the middle to plate the go-ahead run.
Scales then stole his team-leading 16th base of the season, went to third on a balk, and scored when Evan Madigan legged out an infield hit.
Scales was right in the middle of it again when Bucknell added one more insurance run in the ninth. He singled with one out, went to second on a wild pitch, and then scored on a Madigan single. Scales initially held up at third, then scampered home when the ball got away from Anfernee Crompton in left field.
Van Hoose, who worked out of a number of jams throughout the game, blew away the Black Knights with a two strikeouts and an infield pop in the bottom of the ninth to finish off a 130-pitch outing.
Army touched Van Hoose for eight hits and put its leadoff man on base five times, but Van Hoose left eight men stranded. A key moment came in the third inning with the Bison on top 1-0. The Black Knights had runners at the corners with one out, and they started national steals leader Jacob Hurtubise from first on the pitch. Josh White hit a ground ball up the middle with Madigan covering second base, and he turned it into a 6-3 double play to end the inning.
Army did tie the game in the fourth when Jon Rosoff singled, went to second on a wild pitch, and then came around to score on back-to-back bunts, the latter a safety squeeze by Drake Titus.
Van Hoose stranded two runners in the fifth and sixth and one each in the seventh and eighth.
The Bison took a 1-0 lead in the opening inning, although they seemed poised for even more. Two walks surrounding a Luke Johnson single loaded the bases with one out. Luke Hartman drove a 2-2 pitch to deep right-center field, but it was caught on the warning track for a sac fly.
Madigan, Johnson and Scales had two hits apiece for Bucknell, which collected seven hits in the game.
Van Hoose notched his sixth double-digit strikeout performance of the season and eighth of his career. Early in the game he went over the 100-strikeout plateau for the season, becoming the first Bucknell pitcher to do so since Don Richards in 1955. Van Hoose also moved into a tie for second place on Bucknell's single-season wins list with eight. The only Bison with more was Jason Buursma, who won nine games in 2008.
Giovinco went six innings and allowed two runs on two hits with five strikeouts and four walks. Rosoff, the Patriot League Player of the Year, went 3-for-4, and Martin added two hits for the Black Knights.
Game 2 – Army 11, Bucknell 7
Army pounded out 12 hits and rolled to an 11-7 victory in a game that was interrupted by a 1-hour, 45-minute rain delay. The Black Knights led 8-3 after six innings when the already-waterlogged contest was halted, and then the hosts broke it open with three more runs in the eighth to go up 11-3. The Bison made things interesting with three runs in the bottom of the ninth and had the tying run on deck when the game ended.
Army was the “visiting” team in the second game and quickly took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. The game got off to an ominous start for the Bison, as Hurtubise led off the game with a slow chopper to first base that hit the bag and popped over the head of Tyler Wincig. Hurtubise would later score on an Anthony Giachin line drive that ticked off the glove of a diving Madigan at shortstop.
Trey Martin followed with an RBI single, but Jeff Gottesman prevented further damage with a foul pop and strikeout to strand men at second and third.
John McKenna doubled to lead off the second inning. He went to third on a sac bunt and scored on a ground out to make it 3-0, but the Bison struck right back in the bottom half on a two-out, three-run homer by Evan Klugerman.
With a steady rain coming down, White led off the third with a seeing-eye single through the right side. Giachin dropped a bunt, and Gottesman picked up the wet ball and threw wildly to first base. White scored all the way from first while Giachin ended up at third, and he scored one batter later on a triple by Martin. A wild pitch made it 6-3.
Army plated two more in the fifth to chase Gottesman and take an 8-3 lead.
The second game was slowed by a number of mid-inning delays while the grounds crew tended to the field. The tarp finally came out after the final out in the bottom of the sixth, and play resumed at 9:02 p.m.
Bison reliever Hunter Robichaux returned to the mound after the delay and worked a scoreless seventh, but Army scored three runs in the eighth, with another throwing error on a bunt contributing to the rally.
The sophomore Madigan belted his first career home run in the eighth inning, and then the Bison scored three in the ninth on an RBI double by Bell and a pair of fielders’ choices, including one from Klugerman that gave him a four-RBI game. The Bison needed one more baserunner to get the tying run to the plate, but Wincig’s hard-hit one-hopper went right to the second baseman for the final out.
Klugerman’s home run was Bucknell’s lone hit off Army starter Daniel Burggraaf. The Bison scored their seven runs on just four hits. Army had a dozen hits, led by Martin, who had three hits and four RBIs. Rosoff also had three hits, giving him six on the day.