By Eric Brod
The baseball team opened its season by splitting a pair of games against Niagara and La Salle last weekend in Davidson, N.C. The Orange and Blue squad earned its first win of the season against Niagara 8-4 after falling in the season opener to La Salle 3-1.
Against Niagara, Bob Donato ’12 ignited the offense with three hits and three RBIs. The Bison jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first off an RBI single by David Duffett ’12 and a sac fly by Matt Lamore ’12. After Niagara cut the deficit to 2-1, the Orange and Blue took control with a five-run fourth inning. Six of the first seven batters reached base to start. The big hit came from Donato, who smashed a bases-clearing double to extend the lead to 7-1.
“The count was 2-0 and I knew that the pitcher was going to give me a fastball and that’s what happened,” Donato said. “I put a good swing on it and it went down the right-field line.”
Dan Weigel ’14 was impressive in his first collegiate start, pitching seven strong innings, allowing only one unearned while striking out eight and allowing four hits.
“Since it was my first ever start for Bucknell, I tried to keep things pretty simple and just throw my game,” Weigel said. “I was lucky to have some great defense behind me on Saturday.”
Niagara added three runs in the ninth off All-Patriot League reliever Alex Cillo ’12.
Donato and cleanup hitter Travis Clark ’13, who finished two-for-four, produced five of the Bison’s eight hits.
In their season opener, the Bison fell in a tightly contested pitcher’s duel to the La Salle Explorers. Ryan Ebner ’12, Patriot League Pitcher of the Year for 2011, was solid in his season debut, allowing three runs (two of them earned) in 3.1 innings while striking out five. The Explorers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but the Bison quickly cut the deficit to 2-1 in the second inning. After Duffett led off the inning with a double, Brett Ashley ’14 singled, placing runners at first and third. With two outs, the double steal was on as Ashley stole second and Duffett scored on the rare steal of home. Ashley finished the game two-for-four as the only player on either team to record multiple hits. Relievers Dan Goldstein ’13 and Marcus Garone ’13 combined to pitch 4.2 scoreless innings, allowing only two walks and a single.
The Bison will return to action today when they travel to James Madison to begin a four game series against the Dukes. After the team’s strong end to the weekend, the club seems confident heading into the weekend’s four game series.
“We played extremely well against Niagara and will be carrying that momentum into James Madison,” Donato said. “Our pitchers were doing their jobs and the hitters were putting the ball in play. If we can continue to do that, then we will be a dangerous team in the Patriot League.”