FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – After a couple of tough afternoons at Baum Stadium against fourth-ranked Arkansas’ potent lineup, Bucknell received a strong pitching performance in the series finale on Sunday but fell 3-1 to the Razorbacks.
Luke Johnson recorded his second straight two-hit game, and Tyler Wincig had a run-scoring single to give the Bison an early lead in the top of the second, but Arkansas plated single runs in the second, third and seventh innings to sweep the series.
Jack Simpson got the start on the mound for the Bison and worked into the third inning. Jeff Gottesman came on in relief and was one of the stories of the day. With a run already in, Gottesman inherited the bases loaded and only one out. On just one pitch, he got Grant Koch to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. Gottesman went on to work 4.2 innings, giving up just a run on three hits, with the lone run coming on an opposite field home run by Eric Cole in the seventh.
Bucknell’s run in the second came after Arkansas starter Keaton McKinney issued a pair of one-out walks to Keifer Rawlings and Evan Klugerman. Wincig dumped a base hit to center to score Rawlings, and Klugerman hustled over to third. It appeared as if the Bison might grab a second run when Evan Madigan sent a fly ball down the left field line, but Heston Kjerstad made the grab and gunned down Klugerman on a close play at the plate. The play went to video review, but the out was upheld.
The Razorbacks tied it up on a two-out RBI single by Carson Shaddy in the bottom of the second and took the lead on Luke Bonfield’s RBI single in the third.
Gottesman came out of the bullpen and escaped that third-inning jam, then he breezed through the fourth before finding trouble in the fifth. Cole singled, advanced to second on a balk and then to third on a fly out to right field. On a 3-0 pitch with the infield drawn in, the dangerous freshman Kjerstad hit a sharp line drive that was nicely snared by Johnson at shortstop. After a walk, Koch skied to right to end the threat.
Gottesman induced another double-play grounder to end the sixth, and then with one out in the seventh Cole hit what appeared to be a routine fly ball to left field, but it carried over the wall for a key insurance run for Arkansas.
The Bison got a one-out single from Johnson in the eighth and a leadoff double off the leftfield wall from Rawlings in the ninth, but they could not draw closer.
Cole finished 3-for-3 for the Razorbacks, while Johnson and Wincig both had a pair of hits for the Bison. Freshman Brenden Tuttle made his collegiate debut on the mound and needed only 10 pitches to retire the side in order in the bottom of the eighth.
Attendance at Baum Stadium topped 7,000 for the third straight day, as Bison head coach Scott Heather brought his team back to his alma mater. Bucknell returns to action next weekend with a three-game series at Duke.