Baseball looks to clinch playoff berth next week in Navy series

Lucas Friedman, Contributing Writer

The Bison baseball team squared off against Holy Cross with a chance to crawl closer to clinching a Patriot League playoff spot in enemy territory. Both the Bison and the Holy Cross Crusaders entered the four-game series that ran from April 22-23 with an 8-4 Patriot League record, tied for second place.

The Bison dropped three out of four contests versus Holy Cross, who were preseason Patriot League favorites. The Bison split the doubleheader on April 22, but were swept in the April 23 doubleheader.

Despite losing both games of the second doubleheader, senior captain Brett Smith ’17 made school history in game two, surpassing Ben Allen ’10 for the all-time record in hits with 223. He did so by smacking an infield single in the first inning. With the start in that game, Smith also passed Joe Ogren ’16 for most starts in school history at 191.

The Bison were then able to jump out to a quick 3-0 lead in the second inning of game two which was highlighted by a double off the bat of JohnPaul Bell ’20 that scored Keifer Rawlings ’18. However, Holy Cross kept up with the Bison bats and closed out the series with a 14-6 victory.

The Orange and Blue dropped game one of the April 23 doubleheader by a landslide of 2-11. The Bison were able to take a 2-0 lead into the fourth inning until they allowed Holy Cross a hit at the bottom of the fourth. Danny Rafferty ’17 scored both runs, the first in the second inning on an error, followed by an RBI fielder’s choice from Rawlings. Jeff Gottesman ’19 took the loss, posting six earned runs in 3.2 innings pitched.

The action on April 22 featured two close games. In game one of the opening doubleheader, the Bison and the Crusaders went back and forth, eventually resulting in a 5-3 loss. Despite Holy Cross scoring first, the Orange and Blue stole the lead in the third inning courtesy of a two-run double off the bat of Sam Clark ’17, who came around to score on a single from Luke Johnson ’18. Connor Van Hoose ’18 started off strong, but surrendered a home run in the fifth inning to give Holy Cross the lead for good. He was charged with eight hits, six strikeouts, and four earned runs.

The Bison were able to salvage game two on April 22, giving them the chance to control their own playoff destiny. The team was able to add to their initial two-run lead with four more runs in the fourth, which was catalyzed by Johnson’s second home run of the year. Johnson also hit a home run in game two on April 23. Mike Castellani ’17 improved his record to 4-1 with a strong performance, going 6.2 innings and only allowing seven hits and two earned runs while striking out four batters. Hunter Robichaux ’19 and Jack Schoenberger ’17 closed the game’s final 2.1 innings to lift the Bison to victory.

The team now stands at 18-23 overall on the season and 9-7 in league play, and will hit the road from April 29-30 for their Patriot League finale versus the defending champion Navy.

“We control our own destiny and seeding,” head coach Scott Heather said. “On the road at Navy provides some challenges, but anything can happen in the Patriot League as we are all pretty even. It’s just who plays better on that day. It should be a hard fought series. A win gets us in the tournament and obviously that is our first goal but we also need to go into the tournament with some momentum as well.”

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