Setting the Scene, Part 1
Who: Bucknell (12-21, 9-7 PL) at Navy (27-11, 11-6 PL)
When: Wednesday, Apr. 18, 3 p.m.
Where: Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium, Annapolis, Md.
Live Stats: NavySports.com
Setting the Scene, Part 2
Who: Lehigh (13-21, 3-10 PL) at Bucknell (12-21, 9-7 PL)
When: Saturday, Apr. 21, 12 p.m. (DH) | Sunday, Apr. 22, 1 p.m.
Where: Depew Field, Lewisburg, Pa.
Watch Live: Patriot League Network (Saturday Game 1 & Sunday)
Listen Live: WVBU 90.5 FM & WVBU.com (Saturday Game 2)
Live Stats: BucknellBison.com
Happenings: Senior Day (Saturday) | Alumni Day & Depew Field Project ceremonies (Sunday)
About the Bison
• A Bucknell team on the rise in Patriot League play has four key conference tilts coming up this week. The Bison make their lone regular-season trip to Annapolis on Wednesday for a single nine-inning game with Navy at 3 p.m. Over the weekend, Bucknell hosts a three-game series with Lehigh, consisting of a doubleheader on Saturday at noon and a single game Sunday at 1 p.m. Games 1 & 3 of that series will be streamed live on the Patriot League Network at PatriotLeague.tv.
• Lots of activities are on tap this weekend. Saturday will be Senior Day, and the team will honor its six seniors who will be playing their final regular-season home games. Luke Johnson, Mike Korchak, Keifer Rawlings, Chuckie Scales, Mike Stephens and Connor Van Hoose will be joined joined by their families for the pregame ceremony. On Sunday, the program will pay tribute to all of the alumni, parents and friends whose financial support paved the way for the completion of the Depew Field Project. In recent years, the facility has seen the addition of a new scoreboard, entrance plaza, FieldTurf playing surface, fencing, dugouts, bullpens, and brand new this year, the beautiful grandstand and pressbox.
• The Bison are coming off a doubleheader sweep of Holy Cross in Worcester. Backed by more dominant pitching from Saturday starters Van Hoose and Jeff Gottesman, Bucknell won 6-0 and 2-1 to pass the Crusaders for third place in the Patriot League standings. Sunday's series finale was knocked out by inclement weather.
• At 9-7 in Patriot League play, the Bison go to Annapolis on Wednesday 1.5 games behind Navy (11-6) in the standings. The Midshipmen took 3 of 4 from Bucknell in Lewisburg last month to clinch the season series, but with nine games remaining on the docket, Bucknell has time to move up into a top-two seed, which would mean first-round hosting rights for the Patriot League Tournament. Army West Point sits atop the standings with an 11-2 PL record.
• LHP Jack Grabek (2-3, 6.94 ERA) had his start washed out on Sunday at Holy Cross, and he is expected to get the ball on Wednesday. He will be opposed by Navy sophomore RHP Nicholas Elder (3-1, 1.46), who has been primarily a mid-week starter for the Mids. Grabek has pitched to a 3.65 ERA in four Patriot League starts.
• Van Hoose (5-4, 3.04) and Gottesman (4-2, 2.29) will likely go on Saturday against Lehigh. The righthanders have been as good as any 1-2 combo around, and they are a big reason why the Bison have posted doubleheader sweeps on each of the last three Saturdays. Van Hoose, who was named the Patriot League Pitcher of the Week on Monday after spinning a 2-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts at Holy Cross, is 4-1 with a microscopic 0.55 ERA in five Patriot League starts. In 33.0 innings in those PL outings, he has allowed only two earned runs on 16 hits (.145 opponent batting average) while striking out 47. Meanwhile, Gottesman is 3-2 with a 2.16 ERA within the league. Opponents are hitting just .171 off of him, and he has 37 strikeouts in 33.1 innings of work. Gottesman fanned a career-high 11 batters in eight innings at Holy Cross on Saturday.
• Freshman Brenden Tuttle picked up his team-leading third save of the year in game two on Saturday at Holy Cross. Tuttle, who has yet to allow a run in league play, added two more strikeouts to the Bucknell pitching ledger, giving the team a whopping 25 in the two games against the Crusaders.
• Freshman Dominic Toso continues to rake. Over his last eight games, Toso is 10-for-23 (.435) with five doubles, one triple, one home run, six runs scored and five RBIs. Toso went 3-for-3 with a walk in Bucknell's non-league loss to Towson last Tuesday, and on Saturday at Holy Cross he belted his first collegiate home run. Toso, who is now hitting .284 on the season, is tied for the Patriot League lead in doubles with 12.
• Tyler Wincig and Luke Hartman have been on-base machines for the Bison. Hartman leads the Patriot League in walks with 29 and ranks third in the PL in OBP at .444. Hartman has drawn 18 of those walks in 16 league games and his PL on-base percentage is a lofty .500. Wincig's .467 overall OBP is the league's best, and he ranks third in the conference in bases on balls with 27.
• JohnPaul Bell, who made an incredible catch at the left-field wall in game one at Holy Cross on Saturday, still holds the Patriot League home run lead with five.
• Evan Madigan is the team's top hitter with a .323 average, just ahead of Luke Johnson at .317. Bell leads the squad with 21 RBIs, while Toso has a team-best 22 runs scored.
Scouting Navy/Series Record
• Navy has featured the Patriot League's top offense this season. The Midshipmen have a .288 team batting average, which is the best in the league by 20 percentage points over Army. Zach Biggers leads the league in hitting at .365. Jacob Williamson (36), Stephen Born (32) and Biggers (29) rank 1-2-3 in runs batted in, and Logan Knowles leads the conference in runs (40) and triples (7).
• The Navy pitching staff has a collective 3.22 ERA on the season. The Midshipmen feature one of the league's top starters in Noah Song (5-2, 1.82), although one of his two losses on the season game in Bucknell's 10-2 win on March 17. Freshman Jared Leins has been stellar out of the bullpen, with a 3-1 record, four saves, and a 2.34 ERA in a team-high 14 appearances.
• Over the weekend, Navy took 2 of 3 from Lehigh in Annapolis. The Mids won 7-1 and 2-1, around a 7-4 Lehigh win in game two of the series. Navy is 16-7 at home this season.
• Navy will have a quick turnaround after facing Bucknell. They play three games against arch-rival Army on Friday and Saturday. Friday's game will take place at Fenway Park in Boston, followed by a twin bill Saturday at West Point.
• Earlier this season, Navy took 3 of 4 at Depew Field. Bucknell's 10-2 win came in the series opener, but Navy bounced back with 3-2, 5-1 and 12-6 verdicts.
• Bucknell and Navy first met in 1904, and the Midshipmen lead the all-time series 82-71. The teams met in last year’s Patriot League semifinal series, won by the Bison in two games. Bucknell received a three-hit complete-game outing from Van Hoose. The Bison outhit Navy 12-3 and received a brilliant nine-inning shutout performance from Mike Castellani in the finale.\
Scouting Lehigh/Series Record
• The Mountain Hawks are the only Patriot League team Bucknell has yet to face this season. Lehigh hosts Lafayette on Wednesday at 3 p.m. before coming to Lewisburg. That rivalry series is even at two games apiece.
• Chris Kersey is second to Biggers in the league batting race at .355. Tony Gallo (.305) is also over .300, but the Mountain Hawks are hitting .248 as a team on the season.
• Lehigh features some quality arms, led by Levi Stoudt with a 2.91 ERA in nine starts this season. Peter Woltersdorf has been the top reliever, with a 1.66 ERA in 10 appearances.
• Bucknell has a 97-85 lead in a series that dates back to 1901. The Bison have had the better of play recently, going 21-9 since 2011.
• The Bison took 3 of 4 from the Mountain Hawks last season, winning 3-1, 3-2 and 8-0. Lehigh's win came by a 10-2 count.
• After this week's action, Bucknell has all road games remaining in the regular season: a non-league contest at Penn State next Tuesday, followed by twin bills at Lafayette and Lehigh the following weekend.