LEWISBURG, Pa. – Bucknell starting pitchers Bryson Hough and Dan Weigel combined to allow just two runs in 13.1 innings, Tucker Rekucki recorded two saves and Brett Smith was 5-for-5 with a walk and a sacrifice bunt to propel the Bison to a doubleheader sweep of Navy Saturday at a chilly and rainy Depew Field. The Bison won game one 2-1 and followed that with a 4-1 victory in the nightcap to open Patriot League play 2-0 for the first time since 2009.
Game one, which started at 11 a.m. to hopefully beat the forecasted rain, was played under cloudy skies before rain moved into the area. The start of game two was delayed due to showers, but the contest was played in a steady rain almost throughout.
Navy (13-13, 0-2 PL) managed just nine hits in the doubleheader against four different Bison pitchers. Game one starter Hough allowed just five hits and one run in 6.1 innings to even his season record at 3-3. Game two starter Weigel (1-4) yielded four hits and one run in 7.0 innings. He gave way to Mike Castellani in the eighth. After entering with two runners on base, Castellani retired the three hitters he faced to extend his scoreless innings streak to 15.0. Rekucki got the final few outs of both games to record his fourth and fifth saves of the season, moving him into a tie for seventh place on the program’s single-season list.
Smith posted nearly half of Bucknell’s (10-11-1, 2-0 PL) hits in the two games. None of his five hits left the infield as he had two bunt singles and an infield hit in game one and then followed that with a single up the middle that was stopped behind second base and another infield hit to second. He saw his season average jump more than 50 points on the day.
Navy took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning of game one when leadoff hitter Robert Currie tripled and later scored on a one-out single by Kash Manzelli. Hough allowed just one other runner to reach third base the rest of the game before departing with runners on first and second in the top of the seventh. Rekucki came on and got Drew Hayes to ground into a double play to clinch the victory.
The Bison scored both of their runs in the bottom of the fifth inning off starter Antony Parenti (5-2), who entered the game with a 0.63 ERA. No. 8 hitter Justin Meier led off the fifth with a single. Greg Wasikowski followed with his second hit of the game. Smith bunted and beat the wild throw to first. The wide throw allowed Meier to score the game-tying run and moved Wasikowski to third. Corey Furman followed and also bunted, allowing Wasikowski to score the go-ahead run on the squeeze play.
The top two hitters (Smith, Furman) and the bottom two hitters (Meier, Wasikowski) combined for all seven of Bucknell’s hits in game one.
The Bison scored all the runs they would need in game two in the bottom of the third inning when they pushed four runs across, thanks in large part to three Navy errors in the frame. Wasikowski led off and reached on a fielding error by second baseman Patrick Brady. A sac bunt by Smith and a walk by Furman made it first-and-second with one out.
Joe Ogren came to the plate and lofted a fly ball to left-center, which was dropped by Currie as the rain fell, loading the bases for cleanup hitter Jon Mayer. Mayer came through with an RBI single through the left side and it appeared Furman would be held at third, but left-fielder Brandon Beans misplayed a bounce and let the ball roll past him, clearing the bases and putting Mayer on third. Mayer then scored on a balk.
Smith was the only Bison to get a hit the rest of the way as Navy pitchers Luke Gillingham (0-4) and Tyler Ridgeway did not allow more than one baserunner in any other inning.
Weigel was strong all day as he picked up his first win of the season. He allowed just two hits and two walks over the first five innings and two of those baserunners were erased with double plays. Navy then scored its only run on a two-out single by Manzelli in the sixth.
The Mids had a rally going in the eighth with first-and-second and none out. Bucknell head coach Scott Heather turned to Castellani, who got the first hitter he faced to fly out to right. Hayes followed with a line drive past second baseman Alex O’Neill that appeared to load the bases, however, the Navy runners had to hold up to make sure it wasn’t caught and Brady was thrown out at second base by right fielder Anthony Gingerelli, essentially halting the rally.
Bucknell and Navy are scheduled to wrap up their four-game weekend series with another doubleheader Sunday at noon. Fans can listen to the games on 90.5 WVBU FM and BucknellBison.com.