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Bucknell and Holy Cross set to meet for Patriot League Title


WadsworthStephenHC Center Valley, Pa. – Bucknell and Holy Cross grabbed the last two spots in the Patriot League Baseball Tournament, but they made the most of those positions by taking out the top two seeds in the finales of best-of-three semifinal series on Sunday. No. 4 Bucknell won at No. 1 Army, 11-7, while No. 3 Holy Cross shutout No. 2 Lehigh, 3-0, to complete series victories on the road.

The Bison and Crusaders will now meet in a three-game Patriot League Championship series played in Worcester. The game dates will be announced on Monday, but the series will shift from the original Saturday-Sunday schedule because of Bucknell’s commencement on Sunday morning.

Holy Cross rode strong pitching from Chris Blanchard for the victory over Lehigh. The senior shut out the Mountain Hawks over eight innings while the middle over the Crusader order was able to produce one run in fourth and two in the sixth to back him up. Nate Koneski came on to get the final three outs to seal Holy Cross’ first-ever berth in the Patriot League Championship series.

Bucknell’s bats did most of the damage throughout its three-game series at Army, and Sunday’s finale was no different as the Bison surged ahead with three runs in the fourth inning and got the eventual winning runs on a grand slam by Doug Shribman that made it 11-3 in the seventh. Shribman has a Patriot League single-season record 17 home runs, and his four home runs on the weekend are also a League Tournament record. The No. 4 seed has now knocked off the No. 1 in all three years of the four-team Tournament format, with Bucknell doing it to Army in two of the past three years.

For more information, including box scores and recaps from every game this weekend, visit the Patriot League Baseball Championship page

No. 3 Holy Cross at No. 2 Lehigh (Holy Cross Wins Series, 2-1)
Game 3 Box Score – Holy Cross 3, Lehigh 0

Bethlehem, Pa. – For the first time in school history, Holy Cross will play for the Patriot League Baseball Championship. Chris Blanchard threw eight shutout innings and Nate Koneski closed the door as the No. 3 Crusaders knocked off No. 2 Lehigh, 3-0, on Sunday to win the semifinal series of the Patriot League Baseball Tournament in Bethlehem.

The Crusaders (25-24) claimed the three-game set after the teams split Saturday’s contests. Holy Cross had lost in a semifinal game three as the No. 3 seed in each of the last two seasons, and had been eliminated in the round in each of its four previous Patriot League Tournament appearances.

With Blanchard shutting down Lehigh on the mound, the Crusaders only needed to scratch out a few runs to earn the victory. The production came from the middle of the order, as Eric Oxford drove in John Sills with an RBI groundout for the first run in the top of the fourth. In the sixth, Stephen Wadsworth doubled in Matt Perry and came in to score when Oxford followed with a single for all of the scoring in the contest.

Blanchard held the lead over the next three frames. After giving up a walk to lead off the bottom of the ninth, Koneski came out of the bullpen to induce a fly ball and double play to seal the win and send Holy Cross to the Championship.

Blanchard allowed just four hits and two walks with two strikeouts. Koneski, who pitched a complete-game to earn the victory in Saturday’s opener, was perfect in his inning of work.

Perry and Sills each had two hits with a run scored to lead the offense, while Wadsworth had a run and an RBI and Oxford drove in a pair.

Lehigh (23-27) did not have a player with more than one hit. Mike Lebo allowed three runs in six innings to take the loss.

No. 4 Bucknell at No. 1 Army (Bucknell wins series, 2-1)
Game 3 Box Score – Bucknell 11, Army 7

West Point, N.Y. – Bucknell’s offense, led once again by Doug Shribman, put up double-digit runs for the second time in the series and eliminated top seed Army with an 11-7 victory in game three of a semifinal series on Sunday at West Point.

The Bison (23-32) advance to the Patriot League Championship series for the second time in three seasons, also knocking out Army as the No. 4 seed in 2008. The No. 4 seed has knocked off the No. 1 in all three seasons of the four-team Patriot League Baseball Tournament.

Bucknell jumped ahead with a pair of runs in the first inning, but Army tied the score by the end of the second. The Bison went ahead for good in the third when Scott Reed singled in Shribman, and tacked on three more as Ben Yoder, Andrew Brouse and Shribman all came through with key hits in the fourth to build a 6-2 lead.

The advantage was 7-3 heading into the seventh when Shribman put the game away with his fourth home run of the weekend. With the bases loaded and one out, he sent a pitch to the deepest part of the ballpark in center field to give the Bison an insurmountable 11-3 edge.

Army (28-17) did show its mettle in fighting back with two runs in the seventh and two more on a Joey Henshaw home run with nobody out in the ninth, but Steve Carlin came in to shut the door and send Bucknell to the Patriot League Championship series.

Almost lost in the offensive showing was a strong performance in relief from Ryan Ebner, who earned his first win of the year with two runs allowed in 2.1 innings. Carlin set the Black Knights down 1-2-3 when he came on in the ninth to preserve the win.

The 3-4-5 hitters in the Bucknell lineup each pounded three hits to cap an outstanding series. Shribman went 3-for-4 with two runs and five RBI, while Yoder was 3-for-5 with three runs and an RBI and Brouse was 3-for-6 with a pair of runs. B.J. LaRosa was 2-for-3 with three runs and three walks, while Ben Allen hit a solo home run.

Four Black Knights had two hits, with Henshaw going 2-for-4 with a run and two RBIs. Ben Koenigsfeld was 2-for-5 with two RBIs, while Clint Moore went 2-for-4 with three runs scored. Steve Cummings took the loss, giving up four runs in 1.2 innings out of the bullpen.

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