The Holy Cross Crusaders took the first game of the Patriot League Championship Series over Bucknell in exhilarating fashion with a walk off double by Steve Tkowski as the Crusaders got an 8-7 victory.
The game remained scoreless until the third inning when the Crusaders would scratch across a run. Alex Maldonado would lead the inning off with a single through the left side. He would steal second base on the first pitch to Jack Laurendeau and move over to third on a fly out by Laurendeau to center field. After a John Sills walk, Maldonado would score on a Matt Perry single through the right side to put the Crusaders up 1-0. The Bison were able to get out of the inning without giving up any more damage.
Bucknell would come right back with two runs in the top of the fourth inning with B.J. LaRosa getting a one out single. He would be eliminated on a Ben Yoder fielder’s choice which allowed Yoder to take his place on first base. Andrew Brouse would follow with a homer over the center field fence to give the Bison the 2-1 lead.
Holy Cross would bounce right back in the bottom of the fourth by scoring two runs on their own with a two run double by Brendan McCrea down the left field line to put the Crusaders up 3-2.
The Crusaders would pick up another run in the fifth inning as Jake Laurendeau would get a leadoff double and score after two groundouts to move him along the bases. After the fifth inning, HC led 4-2.
The game would remain 4-2 until the bottom of the seventh when HC would get a two out single by Matt Perry followed by a Stephen Wadsworth homer over the center field fence to give HC the 6-2 lead.
Bucknell would scratch across a run in the eighth inning on a two out single by Ben Yoder to cut the Holy Cross lead to 6-3.
The real action would start in the ninth inning. Holy Cross would decide to leave in starter Nate Koneski in the game to start the inning. According to HC head coach Greg DiCenzo, “We thought Nate would give us the best chance to win…Our closing situation has cost him (Nate Koneski) a few games this season.” Koneski would star the inning off with a nine pitch walk to Drew Constable. Bob Donato would follow with an opposite field homer over the left-center field fence to cut the HC lead down to 1 run at 6-5. Holy Cross pitching coach Gabe Rivas would come out to talk to Koneski but he would remain in the game. Scott Reed would make it back to back homers by hitting one over the left field fence to tie the game at 6.
Holy Cross would make the move to Bobby Holmes after the homer. David Duffett would reach first base on a groundball to the left of Matt Perry that deflected off his glove and was ruled an error. Ben Allen would move Duffett to second on a sacrifice bunt to third base. BJ LaRosa would strikeout for the second out of the inning. Ben Yoder would bring home the lead run with a single up the middle to give the Bison the 7-6 lead. The Crusaders would get out of the inning without allowing anymore runs.
Bucknell would bring in closer Steve Carlin to try to close out the game. He would get John Sills to strike out looking on an outside corner fastball for the first out of the inning. He would then issue a five pitch walk to Holy Cross third baseman Matt Perry. After a Stephen Wadsworth flyout to right for the second out, Perry would move up to second on a wild pitch to Eric Oxford. Perry would end up scoring on a two out RBI single up the middle by Eric Oxford to tie the game up at 7. Holy Cross would then pinch run for Oxford at first base with Chris Blanchard. Steven Tkowski would hit a routine flyball to rightfield but rightfielder Andrew Brouse couldn’t find the ball in the lights allowing Blanchard to score all the way from first base with the winning run.
The teams will play Game 2 of the Championship series on Saturday starting at 1pm and Game 3 will start (if necessary) 30 minutes after Game 2.
Here is an interview with Steve Tkowski. Thanks to Meredith Cook of Holy Cross Media Relations for doing the interview.