WEST POINT, N.Y. – On another wet day at Doubleday Field, the Bucknell baseball team saw its season come to an end as Army West Point pulled out a 4-3 decision in the third and deciding game of this Patriot League semifinal series.
Second-seeded Army (33-22) advances to next week’s Patriot League championship series against top-seeded Navy in Annapolis. Bucknell, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, finishes 17-27-1.
With a light but steady rain falling throughout the day, the series was decided in a strange affair that hinged on two key interference calls that went against the Bison.
The Bison had the makings of a big rally in the second inning, but a critical call at second base changed the complexion of the game. Dominic Toso led off the inning with a double, moved up on a Luke Hartman infield single and scored on a JohnPaul Bell single. Keifer Rawlings dropped a bunt, and everyone was safe when pitcher Matt Ball (7-2) slipped and fell while fielding the bunt.
With the bases loaded and no one out, Evan Klugerman hit a slow grounder to second base that appeared to go for a run-scoring fielder’s choice. But as Rawlings slid into the bag at second, he was called for interference, which turned it into a double play and sent the other runners back to their original bases. Instead of men at the corners and one out with a 2-0 lead, Ball induced a fly out to end the inning and keep it a one-run game.
Chuckie Scales opened the third inning with a single, he stole second and went to third on a wild pitch with one out. But Ball picked up two strikeouts to end the threat.
Army tied it in the fourth when John McKenna drew a two-out walk with the bases loaded. That ended the day for Jack Grabek, who was effective until running into trouble in the fourth. Jack Simpson (2-6) came out of the bullpen and got out of the jam when Luke Johnson made a nice stop on a ground ball up the middle and forced the runner at the second.
Simpson and Ball navigated the middle innings as the rain intensified, but Army broke the tie in the seventh. A single up the middle and a bunt single ended Simpson’s day. Nate Grisius came out of the bullpen and was called for a balk, moving both runners into scoring position.
The red-hot Jon Rosoff hit a shallow fly ball into left field, and with the wind blowing back toward the infield, Bell had to make a sliding catch. That allowed Anfernee Crompton to tag up and score from third. Grisius then appeared to have Hurtubise picked off at second, but the Bison were called for obstruction during a long rundown. Hurtubise then scored on a Josh White triple, and White later scored what proved to be a key insurance run on a passed ball to make it 4-1.
Tyler Wincig opened the eighth inning with a single – Bucknell’s first hit since Scales’ leadoff knock in the third – and Scales followed with another base hit to end Ball’s day. After an Evan Madigan sac bunt, Johnson got a run home on a fly ball. Then Bucknell caught a break when Hurtubise, who had made a number of highlight-reel plays in center field earlier in the series, dropped a routine fly ball. Scales scored on the play while Toso scampered into second, but Cam Opp caught the outside corner on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
Brenden Tuttle got the final two outs in the bottom of the eighth to keep it a 4-3 game, but the Bison went down in order in the ninth.
Scales led Bucknell’s seven-hit attack with his second two-hit game of the tournament. Army collected six hits from six different players.