WORCESTER, Mass. – With the score tied at 7-7 and one runner on, sophomore Steve Tkowski (Bourne, Mass.) hit a double over the right fielder's head to score the game-winning run as the third seed Holy Cross baseball team came back for an 8-7 win against fourth seeded Bucknell in the opening game of the Patriot League Championship series at Fitton Field. With the win, Holy Cross takes game one of the best-of-three series and tallies a 26-24 overall record while Bucknell moves to a record of 23-33 overall and faces elimination. Senior Matt Perry (Sudbury, Mass.) hit safely in three of his four at-bats and collected two RBI and two runs scored to lead the team offensively. Tkowski went 2-for-5 on the night and notched the crucial RBI.
Sophomore Nate Koneski (North Dighton, Mass.) shined once again on the mound for the Crusaders, allowing no hits through three innings pitched. He earned run support in third inning, as Holy Cross scored first, tallying a RBI single from Perry who scored freshman Alex Maldonado (Brooklyn, N.Y.) to take a 1-0 lead. Bucknell would go ahead 2-1 in the top half of the fourth inning, as Andrew Brouse hit a two-run home run to give his team a 2-1 advantage. Junior Brendan McCrea (Hicksville, N.Y.) would give back the Crusaders a one-run lead, 3-2, in the bottom half of the fourth inning, doubling and scoring junior Eric Oxford (Danvers, Mass.) and Tkowski on the play.
After Koneski got all three Bucknell batters to fly out in the top half of the fifth inning, Holy Cross increased its lead to 4-2 in the bottom half, picking up a RBI groundout from Perry, allowing junior Jack Laurendeau (Sudbury, Mass.) to score. Freshman Stephen Wadsworth (Wayland, Mass.) gave the team some breathing room, 6-2, with a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning, marking his third home run of the season and scoring Perry, who reached base on his third single of the night.
Bucknell made it a three-run game, 6-3, in the top of the eighth inning and then broke out for a four-run ninth inning, collecting back-to-back home runs off Koneski and regaining a 7-6 lead. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and Perry on second due to a passed ball, Oxford came up big with a single up the middle, allowing Perry to round the bases and knot the score at 7-7. Senior Chris Blanchard (Norwich, Conn.) would come in to pinch run for Oxford, as Tkowski stepped to the plate. In one swing, Tkowski hit a ball deep to right field, high enough that the Bucknell right fielder lost it in the lights. The ball dropped over the right fielder's head, allowing Blanchard to come around and score the game-winning run, giving Holy Cross the final 8-7 victory in game one of the Patriot League championship series.
Senior Bobby Holmes (Dedham, Mass.), who replaced Koneski in the top half of the ninth inning, earns the winning decision to improve to 1-4 on the season. He allowed one run on two hits in one inning pitched. Bucknell reliever Steve Carlin, who came in to pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning, takes the loss and falls to 3-5 on the season. He allowed two runs on two hits in 2/3 innings pitched.
In the game, Holy Cross scored eight runs on 13 hits while leaving eight base runners stranded. Bucknell marked seven runs and 12 hits, leaving six runners on base.
The Crusaders and Bison will square off for the second game of the Patriot League championship series tomorrow, May 22, beginning at 1:00 p.m. at Fitton Field. If necessary, a second game will be played 30 minutes after the end of the first contest.