LEWISBURG, Pa. – After claiming a walk-off 2-1 win in a pitchers' duel in game one of a doubleheader, Bucknell piled up 13 hits and beat Lafayette 9-5 in the nightcap to complete an important sweep on Saturday at chilly Depew Field.
Bucknell (9-20, 6-7 PL) came into the weekend sitting in the fourth and final position for the Patriot League Tournament, with Lafayette (12-18, 2-6 PL) the closest pursuer 2.5 games back. The Bison gained significant ground with the two wins on Saturday and also picked up two games on sixth-place Lehigh, which was swept by Army West Point.
With one more game remaining in this home series with Lafayette, the Bison are assured of winning a three-game set for the second straight weekend. They took two of three at Army last week and are now 4-1 in their last five Patriot League games.
Bucknell's starting pitching was one of the big stories of the day. Connor Van Hoose and Jeff Gottesman allowed only single unearned runs, with Van Hoose tossing a seven-inning complete game in the opener and Gottesman covering six of the nine innings in game two. The duo combined for 17 strikeouts in 13 innings.
Van Hoose, one of the nation's leading strikeout artists, added nine more to his ledger on Saturday. With 196 in his career, he surpassed Jack Recco (195 from 1974-77) for second place on Bucknell's all-time list. Don Richards holds the record with 354 from 1954-56.
At the plate, Dominic Toso in game one and Evan Madigan and Chuckie Scales in game two recorded three-hit ledgers. The Bison outhit the Leopards 20-7 on the day. Luke Johnson had two hits in the opener to extend his streak to 20 straight games reaching base via a hit or walk. That streak ended in the nightcap, although he did have a sacrifice fly that was caught just in front of the wall in deep left field.
Bucknell and Lafayette will wrap up the three-game series on Sunday at 1 p.m. The game will air on the Patriot League Network at PatriotLeague.tv.
GAME 1: Bucknell 2, Lafayette 1
Bucknell's first walk-off victory of the season came as JohnPaul Bell dove head-first across home plate on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning. Bell led off the inning with a single, moved to second on a sac bunt from Keifer Rawlings and then to third on an infield hit by Evan Klugerman. With Chuckie Scales at the plate, Lafayette freshman southpaw J.P. Woodward threw a slider in the dirt and past the catcher, and Bell hustled home with the winning run.
Lafayette took a 1-0 lead without the benefit of a base hit in the second inning. After a walk and a hit batsman, Richard Villa sent a two-out drive into center field. Scales appeared to run it down, but the ball popped out of his mitt, allowing Spencer Rouse to come across with the first run of the game.
Van Hoose had some traffic to deal with on the basepaths but was able to escape a number of jams. The Leopards had men on second and third and one out in the third, but Van Hoose got a strikeout and a tapper back to the mound. They loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth, but Van Hoose induced a fielder's choice grounder to keep it a 1-0 game.
That proved big, as Bucknell finally came up with a run in the bottom of the sixth. Lafayette starter Brett Kreyer threw five shutout innings, but the Bison touched up reliever David Giusti with a two-out rally. After Giusti retired the first two batters on ground balls to shortstop, Johnson singled to keep the inning alive. One batter later, Toso, hitting in the cleanup spot for the first time this year, ripped a double over the head of the rightfielder. Johnson scored all the way from first to even the game at 1-1.
Van Hoose needed to wiggle out of trouble again in the top of the seventh, as Lafayette put runners at the corners with one out after a walk and a single to right. Rouse, the Leopards' cleanup hitter, tried to lay down a safety squeeze, but he made contact with the ball outside the batter's box and was called out for interference. Patrick Nelson then hit a soft fly ball to left to end the inning.
That set up Bucknell's winning rally in the seventh. Toso (3) and Johnson (2) accounted for five of the team's seven hits in the game. It was Toso's second three-hit game of the year, while Johnson collected his team-leading 12th multi-hit game.
Van Hoose (4-4) allowed just the unearned run on four hits while striking out nine and walking four. He stranded 10 Lafayette baserunners.
GAME 2: Bucknell 9, Lafayette 5
Game two started out with a similar feel, as Lafayette took an early 1-0 lead by scoring an unearned run without managing a hit. But the Bison bats came alive with three runs in the fourth inning and four more in the fifth in support of Gottesman (3-2).
The big blow in the fourth was a two-run homer from Bell, his Patriot League-leading fifth of the season. Lafayette starter Kenny Campbell (1-4) walked the next two hitters after the Bell round-tripper, and Scales followed with a single back through the box to plate Rawlings.
After Gottesmen used a strikeout to strand men at second and third in the fifth, Bucknell answered with four more runs in the bottom half, all coming with two outs. With the bases loaded, Scales sent another ground ball up the middle. This one was smothered by the second baseman, whose flip to second was too late to get a force out. Luke Hartman hustled all the way around from second to give Scales two more RBIs. One batter later, Madigan doubled into the right-center alley to plate two more runs and make it a 7-1 game.
Lafayette got back in it with a two-out spurt of its own in the top of the seventh inning. A two-run triple by Mark Glover, followed by a two-run homer from Luke Robinson pulled the Leopards within 7-5.
But the Bison quickly answered with two big insurance runs in bottom of the seventh. Scales started the rally with a bunt single for his third hit of the game. He would later score on a Tyler Wincig single, and then Madigan would come home on Johnson's sac fly to deep left.
In addition to the three-hit games from Madigan and Scales, Wincig, Bell and Rawlings collected two hits apiece. The Bison also stole a season-high eight bases in the game after entering the day with 17 on the entire campaign.
Gottesman allowed just one hit, walked two and struck out eight in his six innings of work. He lowered his season ERA to 2.49 in eight appearances. Nate Grisius continued his solid pitching out of the bullpen with two scoreless innings to finish off the victory.