WORCESTER, Mass. – Despite a two–run ninth inning rally, the fourth-seeded Bucknell Bison opened its best-of-three Patriot League Championship Series Friday with a 4-3 loss to No. 2 seed Holy Cross at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field. Bucknell will need to sweep the doubleheader on Saturday to claim its seventh Patriot League title and its first since 2014.
The Bison (21-27), who advanced to the championship series after knocking off top-seed Navy, outhit the Crusaders 10-6 in the contest. Sam Clark, JohnPaul Bell and Evan Klugerman each went 2-for-4 at the plate.
Coming off a strong performance in the Patriot League Tournament Semifinals, Connor Van Hoose (6-6) was solid in his outing against Holy Cross despite being credited with the loss. The junior pitched 7.1 innings, scattering four hits while striking out seven. Van Hoose was perfect through the first 3.1 innings of his outing. Jack Simpson pitched the final 0.2 innings in relief.
Clark, a First Team All-Patriot League honoree, led off the fourth inning with his seventh home run of the year. On the third pitch of the at bat, the senior smashed a ball over the center field fence to put the Bison on the board.
Holy Cross (22-25), in search of its first-ever Patriot League crown, took the lead in the fifth inning, scoring two unearned runs off a two-out single from Josh Hassell. The Crusaders extended their lead with two more runs in the eighth inning.
Bucknell opened the rally with back-to-back singles from Bell and Keifer Rawlings. Chuckie Scales singled to left field to score Rawlings and rounded the bases on a double from Brett Smith. With two outs and the game-tying run on third base, Danny Rafferty flew out to end the inning.
Brandon King (5-5) was strong in his start for Holy Cross, pitching 7.1 innings, surrendering one run on five hits while striking out eight. George Capen, a Second Team All-Patriot League selection, pitched the final 1.2 innings to earn the save.
First pitch of game two is slated for 12:05 p.m. Game three, if necessary, is scheduled to begin approximately 30 minutes following the conclusion of game two. Saturday's action will broadcast on the Patriot League Network.