BETHLEHEM, Pa. – A complete-game effort from Jeff Gottesman and a big offensive performance from Evan Klugerman lifted the Bucknell baseball team to a 3-1 win over Lehigh in the first game of a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon. The Mountain Hawks rallied to win the nightcap 5-4, but the game-one victory clinched a Patriot League Tournament berth for the Bison.
Now 13-10 in Patriot League play, Bucknell cannot be caught by fifth-place Lehigh (7-14) or sixth-place Lafayette (2-18-1). The Bison will be seeded either third or fourth in the four-team tournament, which begins in two weeks at the home of the higher-seeded teams. Bucknell will be playing in the postseason for the third straight year and fifth time in the last six years. The team’s last championship game in 2014.
Bucknell does have two potential league games to make up, one at Holy Cross and one at Lafayette. The Bison had a game rained out in Worcester two weeks ago, and on Saturday game two of a doubleheader was called off due to thunderstorms with the game tied at 3-3 in the sixth inning. The status of those games is to be announced by the league office.
Sophomore Luke Hartman reached a milestone on Sunday by drawing three bases on balls in the two games against Lehigh. Hartman has now walked a league-high 37 times this season, which breaks the Bucknell single-season record. Chad DeHart held the previous mark with 36 walks in 1996.
Game 1: Bucknell 3, Lehigh 1
Bucknell punched its ticket to the postseason behind the junior-class duo of Gottesman and Klugerman. Gottesman went the distance on the mound, scattering eight hits while allowing just a single unearned run. He struck out six and walked two while improving to 5-3 on the season. His battery-mate Klugerman accounted for all three Bison runs, driving in two and scoring one.
Mike Maguire went 4-for-4 for the Mountain Hawks, who outhit the Bison 8-6 in the game. But the Bison turned good situational hitting into three runs against Lehigh starter Levi Stoudt.
Bucknell took the lead in the second when Dominic Toso singled, went to second on a Hartman sac bunt, and then scored on Klugerman’s double into the right-field corner.
Lehigh took advantage of an errant pickoff throw and plated the tying run on an infield hit in the third inning. Gottesman kept it a 1-1 game with a couple of strikeouts to strand two runners.
Klugerman drove in the go-ahead run in the fourth with a single after Toso was hit by a pitch and Hartman moved him up with a walk. Another hit batsman led to an insurance run in the sixth. With two outs and no one on, Klugerman was plunked. He went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Keifer Rawlings.
Gottesman had to navigate trouble in the seventh, as a couple of singles put the tying run aboard with one out. But Gottesman buckled down and retired James Bleming on a fly ball and Jeff Schanfeldt on a ground ball back to the mound to lock up his fourth win in his last five starts.
Game 2: Lehigh 5, Bucknell 4
The nightcap got off to a wild start, as neither starting pitcher made it out of the first inning. The Bison scored four times against Matt Kozemchak in the top of the first, but Jack Grabek had trouble getting loose in the bottom half, and Lehigh took advantage of five walks to get three of those runs back.
Peter Moore was the story of the game for Lehigh. The lefty has been a weekend starting pitcher for most of the year, but he came out of the bullpen in this one and tossed 8.2 shutout innings, striking out nine while allowing only four hits. Moore retired 12 straight batters in one stretch, and he picked up the win as Lehigh played single runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
Tyler Wincig and Klugerman drew bases-loaded walks, and Rawlings drove in two with a double to account for Bucknell’s four runs in the top of the first.
Nate Grisius entered in a 4-3 game with the bases loaded in two outs in the bottom of the first, and he quickly retired Matt Hand on an infield pop. Grisius went on to throw three more scoreless innings, allowing only one hit.
The Mountain Hawks tied it against Mike Stephens in the fifth on a Tyler Schreiner sac fly, and they went ahead in the sixth on Bleming’s RBI single.
Meanwhile, the Bison bats just could not get anything going against Moore. Hartman walked with two outs in the eighth and Scales singled with two outs in the ninth for his eighth hit of the weekend, but Moore stranded both runners.
Scales was 5-for-6 with five runs scored at Lafayette on Saturday, and he was 3-for-7 on Sunday to make him 8-for-13 on the weekend. Evan Madigan also had two hits in the nightcap. Christian Tailor and Hunter Robichaux both tossed scoreless innings in relief.