Bucknell Baseball Outlasts Navy in 16-Inning Game One to Split on First Day of PL Semifinal Series
May 14, 2011
ANNAPOIS, Md. - Fourth-seeded Bucknell and top-seeded Navy are heading to a deciding game three in their Patriot League Baseball Semifinal Series. The Bison and Mids played 25 innings on Saturday at overcast Max Bishop Stadium and each squad came away with a win, forcing Sunday's 12 p.m. game three. The winner will move on to the Championship Series vs. Army, which swept Lafayette on Saturday.
A two-out bouncing single up the middle in the top of the 16th inning by Bucknell's Bob Donato plated the only run in a marathon game one that saw the Bison receive eight shutout innings from both starter Ryan Ebner and All-Patriot League reliever Alex Cillo.
Game two was also a low-scoring affair as the two teams were tied 1-1 as late as the eighth inning. However, Navy (30-22-1) scored five runs in the top of the eighth en route to a 6-1 victory.
A total of three runs were scored in the first 23 innings of play Saturday as the four starting pitchers combined to pitch 34.1 innings and allow just 20 hits and five earned runs while striking out 24.
Patriot League Pitcher of the Year Ebner and Navy starter Ben Nelson set the tone in game one as both were nearly unhittable. Ebner pitched eight shutout innings and yielded just five hits while striking out five. He was removed one hitter into the ninth after allowing a leadoff infield single to Alex Azor.
Nelson logged 10.0 innings and struck out 11 while yielding five hits. Like Ebner, he allowed just one runner to reach third base.
While Ebner and Nelson were strong, the relievers that replaced them were just as good, if not better. Cillo (4-1) matched Ebner with 8.0 shutout innings, allowing six hits and striking out three. The eight innings were double his previous career-long outing of 4.0 innings and he has now given up just two earned runs in his last 43.1 innings pitched.
Joel Rinehart (2-2) backed up Nelson and did not allow a hit in his first four innings of work, and just one in his first five innings. However, Scott Glass, Drew Constable and Donato connected for three straight singles in the 16th, leading to the game's only run.
While Ebner and Cillo combined on Bucknell's first shutout since a 14-0 victory over Butler nearly two months ago, Navy did threaten on a couple of occasions, especially after Cillo entered one hitter into the ninth. In fact, Cillo had to work out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings.
Cillo came into the game with Azor on first and none out in the bottom of the ninth. Dave Milanes hit a low pop-up back to Cillo, who caught it and then fired to first to try and double up Azor. The throw went wild and Azor moved into scoring position. Cillo then walked Taylor Cato. Azor and Cato then moved to third and second on a passed ball by Justin Meier, who was in just his second inning behind the plate after being substituted in. An intentional walk to Jeff Bland loaded the bases to set up a double play with just one out. Greg Dupell bounced one back to Cillo, who got the lead runner at home, and then he struck out Nick Driscoll to force extra innings.
Cillo then gave up a pair of singles in the 10th, but was helped by a double play. The Bison defense also turned a double play in the 11th. Cillo then retired the side in order in three of the final five innings and didn't let a runner reach second base after the 10th frame.
Bucknell (25-27), which had only one runner reach third base outside of Glass and Constable in the 16th, hit into three double plays, all after the eighth inning. The Bison had the leadoff hitter on in both the eighth and ninth innings, but double plays stopped the rallies each time.
Bucknell's best chances to score in extra innings came in the 12th when Donato drew a leadoff walk and later stole second and in the 15th when Shribman led off with a hard single to left and moved to second on a sac bunt. Both times Rinehart retired the side in order after the leadoff man (Donato, Shribman) reached.
Earlier in his at bat in the 15th inning, Shribman, who has hit 43 career home runs, including eight in Patriot League Tournament play, yanked a ball down the left-field line that had home run distance. However, it was ruled foul and he had to return to the plate.
Constable, Shribman and Matt Lamore posted two hits apiece for the Bison in game one as Bucknell finished with nine hits, three of which came in the deciding 16th frame.
Navy posted 11 hits in the loss with the bottom three hitters in the lineup - Driscoll, Kash Manzelli, Dylan Wheeler - combining for five.
The 16-inning game one took just 3 hours, 53 minutes to play. It was the longest game in Bucknell baseball history, surpassing 15-inning affairs against Temple in 1975 and Lehigh in 1976.
While Ebner did not pick up the victory in game one, it was the 10th straight win for Bucknell when he is the starting pitcher.
It would be tough for game two starters Dylan Seeley (Bucknell) and Sam Long (Navy) to match the performance of Ebner and Nelson, but they nearly did. Seeley (2-7) allowed just four hits and six total baserunners over the first seven innings, while Long pitched a complete game four-hitter while giving up just the one run.
The score was tied 1-1 entering the top of the eighth when the Mids batted around and scored five runs on four hits, two walks and one error. The Bison used three pitchers in the inning. Interestingly, Bucknell pitchers set Navy down 1-2-3 in the fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth innings.
The Mids took the initial lead in the game in the top of the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Driscoll, capitalizing on a leadoff walk by Milanes.
Bucknell tied the score in the bottom of the fifth, also capitalizing on a leadoff walk as Lamore drew one and then came around to score on a one-out RBI double by Constable.
All four hits for the Bison in game two came from the top four hitters in the lineup - Constable, Donato, Shribman and Gerry Runyan.
Bucknell and Navy have now played six games this year and each team has three wins. The Bison have outscored the Mids 26-25 in those six contests.
Saturday's game one was Bucknell's second-ever extra-inning game in the Patriot League Tournament. The only other one was game one of the 2008 semifinal series at Army, which lasted 10 innings.
Game three in the Patriot League Tournament is nothing new for Bucknell. Since the current format was adopted in 2008, the Bison are 3-1 in game threes, including 2-0 last year.
Bucknell, on Sunday, will also try to make it four consecutive years for the No. 4 seed to advance past the No. 1 seed and into the Patriot League Championship Series. Overall, No. 4 seeds have won five of six series since 2008. The Bison won Patriot League titles in 2008 and 2010 as the No. 4 seed.
Live video of Sunday's deciding game three will air on Bison Vision, while live statistics can be viewed free of charge via GameTracker.