GREENSBORO, N.C. – Evan Madigan’s fourth hit of the game was a ninth-inning double that plated the tying and go-ahead runs, lifting the Bucknell baseball team to a 7-5 victory over North Carolina A&T on Saturday at War Memorial Stadium. The Bison beat the Aggies for the second straight day and will go for the series sweep on Sunday.
Jack Simpson (1-2) picked up the win with three strong innings in relief of starter Jeff Gottesman, who did not allow an earned run over six innings. Madigan, hitting out of the No. 9 spot in the order, enjoyed his first career four-hit game. He swatted a pair of run-scoring doubles on the day and now leads the team with a .364 batting average on the season.
JohnPaul Bell belted his third home run of the season, a two-run shot in the first inning that got Bucknell (2-6) out to a quick 3-0 lead. Second-inning doubles by Keifer Rawlings and Madigan made it 4-0, but the Aggies (3-7) tied it with four unearned runs in the bottom of the third.
With the bases loaded and two outs, a Bison throwing error allowed two runs to score, and then A.J. Hunt singled home two more to make it 4-4.
Gottesman and North Carolina A&T starter Marcello Betances settled in, putting up zeroes through the middle innings. Gottesman retired 10 of the last 12 batters he faced, highlighted by a four-pitch inning in the fifth, and he lowered his season ERA to 3.07.
Simpson came out of the bullpen to start the seventh and quickly got ahead of Justin Williams 0-2, but Williams worked the count full and then drove a pitch over the right-centerfield fence for a go-ahead home run.
Aggies reliever Josh Bottenfield worked around a two-base error to start the eighth, but the Bison staged the winning rally off closer Leon Hunter (0-1) in the ninth. Tyler Wincig led off with a walk, the only free pass issued by North Carolina A&T all day. One out later, Luke Hartman reached on an infield hit. Madigan sliced one down the right-field line to score pinch-runner Ben Smith, and when a relay throw to third got away, Hartman scampered home with the go-ahead run. Dominic Toso followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 7-5, giving him his team-leading seventh RBI of the season.
Simpson registered a strikeout to start the bottom of the ninth, but back-to-back errors brought the winning run to the plate with one out. He retired Greg White on a fielder’s choice and then fanned Milton Rivera to end it.
Both teams finished with eight hits and both committed three errors. Hunt led the way for the Aggies with three hits.
The series finale is set for Sunday at 1 p.m. Lefty Jack Grabek will take the hill for Bucknell, opposed by righthander Michael Johnson.