Setting the Scene
Who: #3 Bucknell (16-25-1, 13-11-1 PL) at #2 Army West Point (31-21, 18-7 PL)
When: Saturday-Sunday, May 12-13, 12 p.m. (best 2-of-3)
Where: Johnson Stadium at Doubleday Field, West Point, N.Y.
Watch Live: Patriot League Network
Live Stats: GoArmyWestPoint.com
How We Got Here
• After opening the season with a difficult non-league schedule, Bucknell went 13-11-1 in Patriot League play and earned the No. 3 seed for the postseason tournament. In this year’s new 25-game league scheduling format, the Bison went 1-4 against Navy, 2-3 vs. Army West Point, 3-2 vs. Holy Cross, 4-0-1 vs. Lafayette and 3-2 vs. Lehigh.
• Bucknell clinched its postseason bid with a 3-1 win over Lehigh in the first game of a doubleheader on Apr. 29.
• The Bison have been idle since May 1, when they fell 8-7 at Holy Cross in a makeup game of an Apr. 15 rainout in Worcester.
• Bucknell has relied heavily on the right arms of starting pitchers Connor Van Hoose and Jeff Gottesman, as 10 of the team’s 13 conference wins came in their outings. Van Hoose, the 2018 Patriot League Pitcher of the Year, went 6-1 with a 0.57 ERA in seven Patriot League starts. He struck out 66 in 47.0 innings and limited opposing hitters to a .151 batting average. Gottesman, the 2018 Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year, also made seven PL starts and went 4-3 with a 1.94 ERA while averaging better than a strikeout per inning.
• Bucknell and Army first met in 1993, and the Black Knights have a 71-53 edge in 124 all-time meetings.
• This will be the sixth season in which the two teams have met in the postseason (Bucknell leads, 6-5).
• Army claimed the 2018 season series three games to two. The Black Knights swept a doubleheader at Depew Field on March 24, winning 1-0 and 7-6. Bucknell went to West Point on March 31 and won 4-1 and 5-1, and then Army took the rubber match by a 7-4 count on Apr. 1.
Bucknell in the Patriot League Tournament
• Bucknell has an all-time record of 29-25 in 17 Patriot League Tournament appearances.
• The Bison have captured six Patriot League titles, coming in 1996, 2001, 2003, 2008, 2010 and 2014.
• In PL Tournament play, Bucknell is 16-10 vs. Navy, 6-5 vs. Army, 3-5 vs. Holy Cross, 2-2 vs. Lafayette, and 2-3 vs. Lehigh.
• Bucknell is 6-5 in postseason games at Doubleday Field, including a 5-4 mark against Army. The Bison also played single, neutral-site games there against Navy in 1997 (W) and Lehigh in 2005 (L).
• Connor Van Hoose became the fifth Bison to earn Patriot League Pitcher of the Year honors, joining Mike Tomko (1996), Mike Anders (1998), Kevin Miller (2003) and Ryan Ebner (2011). Van Hoose also became Bucknell’s first starting pitcher ever to be a two-time First Team All-Patriot League selection.
• Senior outfielder Chuckie Scales, junior catcher Evan Klugerman, and freshman designated hitter Dominic Toso all earned Second Team All-Patriot League honors.
• Junior Jeff Gottesman was named Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year. In addition to having a stellar year on the mound, Gottesman carries a perfect 4.0 grade-point average while majoring in finance.
• Sophomore Tyler Wincig joined Gottesman on the 12-man Academic All-Patriot League Team. Wincig also majors in finance and has a 3.94 GPA.
Van Hoose Tosses No-No, Climbs in Bucknell Record Book
• Connor Van Hoose has produced some eye-popping numbers in 2018, but the highlight of his campaign came on Apr. 21, when he spun a no-hitter against Lehigh on Senior Day. Van Hoose needed only 76 pitches to blank the Mountain Hawks over seven innings. He struck out eight, walked two, and saw one other batter reach on a throwing error. Tony Gallo drew the second of those walks with one out in the seventh. After a pop fly to shallow left for the second out, catcher Evan Klugerman picked the runner off first base to end the game.
• It was Bucknell’s fifth no-hitter, and the first since eventual Major Leaguer Matt Daley turned the trick against Lehigh in 2004. Hall-of-Fame Don Richards had the first no-hitter in team history against Franklin & Marshall in 1956. Kurt Waldner no-hit Lafayette in 1993, and Mike Tomko and Matt Potalivo combined for a no-hitter against Niagara in 1998.
• Van Hoose has cemented his status as the program’s top strikeout artist since Hall-of-Famer Don Richards in the 1950s. For the full season, Van Hoose has punched out 97 hitters, which matches his own total from the 2017 season as the second-most in Bucknell history. Van Hoose’s 227 career strikeouts also rank second in team history, trailing only Richards’ 354 from 1954-56. His 12.91 strikeouts per nine innings this season ranks 11th nationally.
• Van Hoose has posted double-digit strikeout totals five times this season, with a high of 14 in a win at West Point on March 31. His five double-digit strikeout performances this season and the seven in his career are both the highest totals since Richards more than 60 years ago.
• Van Hoose’s 15 career wins are tied for ninth-most in school history, his 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings rank second, and his 2.63 ERA ranks fifth.
• In Patriot League play, Van Hoose has conceded a total of only three earned runs. He defeated each of the other league teams at least once, and his only loss in league play was a 1-0 setback to Army, in which he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning.
Bison Start Season with Tough Slate
• Bucknell opened the 2018 season with three-game series at Arkansas and Duke. The Razorbacks were ranked fourth at the time and are now No. 6 in the NCBWA poll with a 33-15 record. Duke was just outside the top-25 when the teams met in February, and the Blue Devils are now ranked 11th with a 35-11 record.
• Bucknell was touched up for 75 runs in those six games against Arkansas and Duke. The team’s combined ERA drops from 5.41 to 4.05 not counting those contests.
The Bison Last Season
• Bucknell finished 21-28 last season, including a 10-10 mark in the Patriot League.
• The Bison were the No. 4 seed in the four-team Patriot League Tournament, and they knocked off top-seeded Navy by sweeping two games in the best 2-of-3 semifinal series. Pitchers Connor Van Hoose and Mike Castellani both tossed complete games, conceding only a single run in 4-1 and 5-0 victories.
• In the championship series at second-seeded Holy Cross, Bucknell dropped the opener 4-3, then lost a wild one, 11-7 in 11 innings. The Bison were down to their final out in the bottom of the ninth, but then-senior Brett Smith hit a dramatic 3-run homer to tie the game and force extra innings. The Crusaders took advantage of three walks and two hit batsmen in a 4-run top of the 11th to end Bucknell’s season.
Let’s Take a Spin Around the Diamond
• Miles Moore (18 starts), Tyler Wincig (14) and Mike Korchak (10) have combined to make the 42 starts at first base.
• Moore is hitting .165 but has prodigious power, with eight of his 13 hits on the season going for extra bases, including three home runs. One of those blasts was a light-tower shot against Duke at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park early in the season.
• Wincig is an everyday player for the Bison, splitting time between first base and right field, and he has even made seven appearances on the mound. He is the team’s second-leading hitter with a .297 average, and he leads the Patriot League in on-base percentage at .455.
• Midway through the season, coach Scott Heather flipped his middle infielders, moving Luke Johnson from shortstop to second base and Evan Madigan from second to short. The move has paid dividends, as the Bison went 12-8-1 after the swap after a 4-17 start.
• Johnson was an All-Patriot League selection in 2017, and he is having another outstanding season as a senior in 2018. He leads the team with a .305 average and 24 RBIs hitting mainly out of the No. 3 spot in the order.
• Johnson had a streak of 20 straight games reaching base earlier this season, the longest on the team in 2018.
• Johnson is the only player on the team to start all 42 games this season.
• Madigan has been a mainstay in the middle of the diamond, and the Bison are 10-6 since he moved to the leadoff spot in the batting order.
• Madigan is hitting .293 on the season with 10 doubles.
• Madigan missed four games in the middle of the season with an ankle injury, and freshman Caleb Broughton filled in.
• After serving as the team’s primary DH last season, senior Keifer Rawlings replaced All-Patriot Leaguer Sam Clark at the hot corner in 2018.
• Rawlings has played in all 42 games with 39 starts at third base, and he is hitting .266 with a home run and 15 RBIs. He ranks third on the team with 22 runs scored.
• Sophomore JohnPaul Bell was the regular left-fielder until he was injured crashing into the wall making a spectacular catch at Holy Cross on Apr. 14. He missed the final 10 games of the regular season but could return for the postseason.
• At the time of his injury, the switch-hitting Bell was hitting .256 with a Patriot League-high five home runs. His .462 slugging percentage leads the team and ranks sixth in the Patriot League.
• Filling in during Bell’s absence has been sophomore Luke Hartman, who plays both corner outfield positions, and freshman Dominic Toso, who has been the regular DH this season.
• Senior Chuckie Scales, a Second Team All-Patriot League selection, has played a terrific center field for the Bison.
• Scales is the team’s fastest player, and he leads the team and ranks No. 2 in the Patriot League with 15 stolen bases.
• In Patriot League games, Scales leads the league in hitting with a .387 average, and he ranks second in both OBP (.465) and steals (14). Scales played through a back injury at the start of the season, and after a 2-for-29 start he has vaulted his season batting average up to .289.
• Scales earned a Patriot League Player of the Week nod on Apr. 30 after going 8-for-13 in four games against Lafayette and Lehigh. That included a 5-for-6 performance in a twin bill against the Leopards, in which he scored runs after each of the five hits.
• Tyler Wincig has started 21 games in right field and Luke Hartman 17. Both are key parts of the Bison lineup and will likely be on the field in some capacity, with Wincig also capable of playing first base.
• Hartman has shown good selectivity at the plate. He is hitting .263 but has set a school record with 38 walks. His .453 on-base percentage is just a tick below Wincig’s .455 for the Patriot League lead.
• Junior Evan Klugerman picked up his first All-Patriot League citation this spring. He has started 33 games behind the plate, while freshman Ben Smith has started five and sophomore Alex Baumann three.
• Klugerman is hitting .248 with a strong .382 on-base percentage. He has a home run, seven doubles, and ranks second on the team with 22 runs batted in. Klugerman has been even better against league competition, where he is hitting .274 with a .427 on-base percentage. His 19 RBIs in league games ranks fourth in the league.
• Not only did Klugerman catch Connor Van Hoose’s no-hitter, but he was responsible for the final out with a pickoff throw at first base.
• Freshman Dominic Toso quickly became a mainstay in the Bison lineup, and he was one of three Patriot League freshmen to earn all-league honors along with Army’s Anthony Giachin and Navy’s Jared Leins.
• Toso hit leadoff in 23 games this season, but over the last 15 contests he has hit in the cleanup spot. The Bison are 9-5-1 in those games.
• Toso is hitting .281 on the season with a .460 slugging percentage. He ranks fifth in the Patriot League in doubles with 14 and fourth in triples with four. He leads the Bison with 29 runs scored and has a solid .374 on-base percentage.
• Connor Van Hoose and Jeff Gottesman have been one of league’s elite 1-2 combinations all season.
• Van Hoose has written the headlines with his no-hitter and Patriot League Pitcher of the Year award, but Gottesman has been just as good. In fact, Gottesman’s 2.12 ERA for the full season is the best on the team and third-best in the PL. He has a 5-3 overall mark while holding opposing hitters to a .198 average, and that includes appearances against nationally ranked Arkansas and Duke.
• In Patriot League play, Gottesman is 4-3 with a 1.94 ERA while averaging better than a strikeout per inning. In his last five starts, he has conceded only three earned runs in 34 innings for a tidy 0.79 ERA.
• Gottesman set the tone for the season by allowing only a single run on a solo homer in 4.2 innings of relief against No. 3 Arkansas on the season’s opening weekend. Perhaps his best performance of the year came in a key win at Holy Cross, when he spun 8.0 innings of two-hit ball while striking out a career-high 11. Gottesman also had a start at Army where he did not allow an earned run over 7.0 innings, and he allowed only two hits over 7.0 innings in a non-league win over Villanova.
• Junior lefty Jack Grabek and sophomore righthander Jack Simpson have covered the remaining Patriot League starts. The 6’8” Simpson is the likely Game 3 starter if needed in the postseason. He is 2-5 with a 6.23 ERA on the season.
• Sophomore Nate Grisius (0-0, 2.42 ERA, 1 SV) and junior Hunter Robichaux (0-1, 10.06 ERA) have been the primary setup men for freshman closer Brenden Tuttle (0-4, 6.75 ERA, 4 SV) this season.
• Junior Christian Tailor has been very effective of late. Tailor allowed four runs in 1.1 innings in the Arkansas series, but since then he has allowed only one more run in seven appearances, that coming in a mid-week outing against Towson. He has tossed 3.1 scoreless innings in Patriot League play and also had scoreless appearances against Duke, UMass and Binghamton.
• Senior Mike Stephens (0-2, 9.56 ERA) and sophomore Tyler Wincig (0-1, 6.16 ERA) are also options for pitching coach Jason Neitz out of the bullpen.