WORCESTER, Mass. – The Patriot League's two top-hitting teams put on another offensive show, with lower-seed stealing the spotlight as the third seed Holy Cross baseball team fell in the final two games of the Patriot League Championship series against fourth seeded Bucknell by the scores of 4-3 and 12-7 at Fitton Field. With the decisions, Patriot League runner-up Holy Cross completes its 2010 campaign with a 26-26 overall record while Bucknell earns its fifth Patriot League championship and moves to 25-33 overall record. Senior Matt Perry (Sudbury, Mass.) batted .500 at the plate on the day to lead Holy Cross offensively. He marked four hits, including a double and a home run, two runs scored and two RBI.
Game One: After a scoreless first and second innings, Bucknell broke into the runs column first in the bottom of the third inning as Bison sophomore David Duffett homered, giving the Bison a 1-0 lead. Bison junior Doug Shribman homered for the second run on the day in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Bucknell took a 2-0 advantage after four inning of work.
Holy Cross remained scoreless through the fifth inning, scattering four hits off Bucknell starter Trey Frahler. Duffett gave his team a three-run lead, 3-0, in the bottom of the fifth inning as he homered for the second time on the day. Senior Ryan George (Seekonk, Mass.) would then come in to replace fellow senior starter Matt Shapiro (Raynham, Mass.) on the mound with two on and two out in the fifth, getting Shribman to pop up on the first pitch to end the inning.
The Crusaders broke through for their first runs in the top of the sixth inning, collecting two runs on three hits off Frahler. Senior John Sills (Milton, Mass.) and Perry started off the inning with back-to-back hits, including a double off the right center wall by Perry. Both Sills and Perry would then score the two runs as junior Eric Oxford (Danvers, Mass.) hit a sacrifice fly to bring Sills home from third base, followed by a RBI single from sophomore Steve Tkowski (Bourne, Mass.). At the end of six innings, Holy Cross had gotten within one run of Bucknell, 3-2. Holy Cross then knotted the score at 3-3 in the top of the seventh inning as Perry hit a hard ball to the Bucknell shortstop, who could not make a play on any of the base runners. Freshman Alex Maldonado (Brooklyn, N.Y.), who led off the inning beating out a play at first base, came around to score.
Bucknell would mark the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning, however, as they drew a two out walk and then scored on a double to centerfield. Holy Cross came up empty in the top of ninth inning, as the Bison forced a decisive game three by the final 4-3 score.
George took the loss in the game to fall to 3-5 on the season. He finished the game pitching 3-1/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits while striking out three. Bucknell used three pitchers in the game as Ryan Ebner picked up the winning decision to improve to 2-0 on the season. He shut out the Crusaders for 2-2/3 innings, allowing just one hit.
Game Two: Two three-run home runs were the story early as Bucknell's Shribman homered in the first inning, giving Bucknell a 3-0 lead. Tkowski then knotted the score at 3-3 in the bottom of the second inning, scoring freshman Stephen Wadsworth (Wayland, Mass.) and Oxford. Holy Cross then went up 6-3 in the bottom of the fourth inning as Oxford homered to right center to lead off. With one out, juniors Nick Ciardiello (Edison, N.J.) and Brendan McCrea (Hicksville, N.Y.) notched back-to-back singles to put two runners on. After Maldonado reached on a fielder's choice and then advanced to second on his second stolen base of the day, Laurendeau notched his 12th double of the season to clear the bases, scoring Ciardiello and Maldonado.
Bucknell tied the score at 6-6, picking up another home run from Andrew Brouse in the top of the fifth inning. The tie did not last long, however, as Perry hit the team's third home run of the day out in the first at-bat in the bottom of the fifth inning, giving the Crusaders back a 7-6 lead after five innings of play. After two pitching changes in the top of the seventh inning and with two runners on, Bison heavy-hitter Shribman belted his second three-run home run off George to give Bucknell a damaging 9-7 advantage.
Shribman's home run would be the go-ahead play for Bucknell as the Bison added three more runs to take a 12-7 lead in the of the ninth inning, scoring on an error and a two-run single. The Crusaders collected just one more hit over the final three innings, ending their shot at a league crown and falling by the final 12-7 score.
Sophomore John Pedrotty (Portsmouth, R.I.), who was the first pitcher to replace Holmes in the seventh inning, tallied the losing decision to finish with a 5-1 record on the season. He allowed one run on one hit in 1/3 innings pitched. Bucknell's Ryan Ebner picks up the consecutive winning decision to improve to 3-0 on the year. He pitched five innings for the Bison, allowing just two hits and no runs scored.
On the day, Holy Cross scored 10 runs on 21 hits while leaving 14 base runners stranded. Bucknell tallied 16 runs and 18 hits, leaving 13 runners on base.
With the two losses, the Crusaders complete their 2010 campaign, falling two game to one in the Patriot League championship series. The 26 wins are the most a Holy Cross baseball program has put together since the 1978 season. Perry, Wadsworth and sophomore Nate Koneski (North Dighton, Mass.) were named to the Patriot League All-Tournament team for their stellar efforts over the final two weekends.