Longest winning streak: 4 games
Longest losing streak: 6 games
Bucknell played the tournament of their lives; they beat the opposition on their respective fields... Army in West Point and Holy Cross in Worchester, Mass. They were the #4 seed in a four team tournament which forces its lower ranked participants to play on the higher rated participant's field. It was anticipated that Army would win this event going away... especially since they were the conference number 1 seed. But Bucknell beat them 2 out of 3 and the Black Knights were eliminated early in the tournament. Bucknell turned its attention to Worchester and headed its bus to Fitten Field on Holy Cross' campus and beat them 2 out of 3 in some nail biting games (7-8, 4-3, 12-7).
Bucknell has never faced the two South Carolina teams in our Regional Tournament... South Carolina and The Citadel. They rarely play in front of crowds larger than 300 people; home attendance averages about 120. Total attendance, about 263 people, for home and away games in 2010. The large crowd at Tallahassee Florida in 2008 didn't deter them from playing spoiler against Florida State, to the tune of an 8-0 score. A few Bison players remember that day in Tallahassee well... namely Ben Allen and Ben Yoder, both had two hits against FSU and will face the Gamecocks Friday night. The hero of that game was their senior pitcher (graduated and gone) Mathew Wilson, who pitched a six hit beauty of a shutout against the Noles.
The tale of the Bison tape this year has been that they can ill-afford to allow their opponent to get +6 runs on them, especially if the opponent jumps on them early. Their record of wins with their opponent leading after six innings is 4-27; tied (after six innings), 1-4. They also have to expect their pitching to not give up many long balls, as their record with opponents going yard on them is pretty drastic (+2 Home runs scored against the Bison... 3-8) .
This will be Carolina's challenge when they take the field against the Bison... neutralize Bison pitching early by connecting on hits for runs, hopefully using some "gorilla ball" tactics in our own ballpark. This should be text book material for Coach Tanner and crew and I think we will see a bit of a clinic put on by the Gamecocks this weekend. The Bison are a four-seed for a reason though. That reason is called spoiler; it only takes one game for them to do just that. Bucknell does control our destiny to an extent. Should Bucknell win this game, Carolina is forced to play six games over the Regional weekend. You do not want to do that with Virginia Tech and The Citadel waiting and ready for you on the other end of a loss.
How Coach Tanner prepares for Bucknell and who our pitcher will be to take them on will be carefully planned out. You don't necessarily have to use a cannon to kill a fly, but you have to be aware that the fly can bite and bleed you to death with 1,000 bites. I expect we will see someone other than Cooper or Dyson in game #1. Coach Tanner gets paid to make those decisions and I am confident that he can make it without my input.... or anyone else's for that matter.
Bucknell's line-up of hitters are very good, especially 1-5. They bring experience (four seniors, one junior) from past post-season play. Most can hit the cover off the ball if you dial in a "mistake" pitch. They can make you pay; their top five is as talented a unit as you will find in Division 1 baseball. The team hits collectively for a .313 batting average against their opponents (opponents hit .312 against them). Our collective team batting average dropped below .300 after Hoover (.299 Yardcock team batting average) and I don't expect it to stay sub-300 for long this weekend. Bison fielding is a collective .972 fielding percentage, which is solid (Yardcocks team fielding is currently .975). Here are their numbers:
1, Ben Allen, SS (L-R, Sr.). Lead-off batter; .326BA, 239AB, 49r, 78h, 1HR, 25RBI, .444SP, 16w, 17so, .378obp.
28, B.J. LaRosa, C (R-R, Sr.). 2nd slot; .374BA, 195AB, 42r, 73h, 4HR, 34RBI, .487SP, 25w, 18so, .452obp.
2, Ben Yoder, 2B (L-R, Sr.). 3rd slot; .393BA, 173AB, 47r, 68h, 10HR, 46RBI, .659SP, 16w, 14so, .447obp.
24, Andrew Brouse, RF (R-R, Sr.). 4th slot; .368BA, 204AB, 58r, 75h, 17HR, 52RBI, .691SP, 29w, 32so, .475obp.
26, Doug Schribman, 1B (R-R, Jr.). 5th slot; .364BA, 209AB, 42r, 76h, 20HR, 60RBI, .737SP, 19w, 50so, .426obp.
42, Drew Constable, LF (R-R, Jr.). 6th slot; .299BA, 184AB, 29r, 55h, 4HR, 34RBI, .386SP, 15w, 21so, .370obp.
23, Bob Donato, CF (L-L, So.). 7th slot; .305BA, 190AB, 35r, 58h, 6HR, 29RBI, .495SP, 12w, 37so, .353obp.
4, Matt Lamore, DH (L-R, So.). 8th slot; .293BA, 92AB, 10r, 27h, 3HR, 16RBI, .446SP, 6w, 16so, .347obp.
11, David Duffett, 3B (R-R, So.). 9th slot; .227BA, 176AB, 37r, 40h, 4HR, 19RBI, .330SP< 13w, 43so, .291obp.
Bucknell's pitching relies on the arms of Friday starter #21 Dylan Seeley ([L-R; RHP, Jr.]; 5-3, 4.03ERA, 13App, 82.2IP, 92h, 43r[37e], 20w, 48Ks, .288oba) Saturday starter #32 Trey Frahler ([R-R; RHP, Jr.]; 4-6, 6.53ERA, 13App, 73IP, 102h, 56r[53e], 34w, 55Ks,.334oba) and Sunday's man, #31 Jack Boehm ([R-R, RHP, So.]; 4-3, 6.22, 12App, 59.1IP, 85h, 45r[41e], 15w, 24Ks, .337oba). They rely on long relief from #35 Ryan Ebner ([L-L, LHP, So.] 3-0, 4.94ERA, 14App, 27.1IP, 31h, 18r[15e], 12w, 20Ks, .301oba) and he has been very effective for them particularly in long middle relief and closing games.
#22, Steve Carlin ([R-R, RHP, Jr.] 3-5, 8.51ERA, 2SV, 15App, 37IP, 44h, 38r[35e], 24w,39Ks, .308oba) typically comes in as Bucknell's closer, along with #4 Matt Lamore ([L-R, RHP, So.] 1 Save), #15 Daniel Hart ([R-R, RHP, Jr.] 1 save) and #27 Michael Dallanegra ([L-L, LHP, Sr.] 1 save). Lamore and Hart see quite a bit of action as short term relief for Bucknell's pitching staff, their specialty is to work around difficult situations in key innings as Bucknell's (pitching) "firemen". Dallanegra ([L-L, LHP, Sr.] 1-1, 20App, 20.1IP, 14h, 9r[6e], 10w, 7Ks.215oba) is used when a left-handed relief pitcher is needed to close and he has been quite successful for them.
Collectively, this staff doesn't have a handsome ERA at 6.10; it is almost double the Yardcock team ERA of 3.62. Quite honestly, it is good enough to string some innings together to produce a win (see winning streaks, above). That is what made them a dangerous team for Florida State in '08 and is precisely what makes Bison pitchers dangerous for Carolina in this Regional. If they can string together 27 outs with limited production by the home team on a Friday night in Columbia... in front of a packed house, then they have lived up to their billing as spoilers.
This is not unlike what our guys experienced in Hoover... against pitchers with an established reputation within our conference... last weekend. I am sure our guys are determined not to repeat the same consequences this weekend, starting with Friday's game... if they can help it. The loser's bracket from a Friday night loss provides any team with an awfully deep hole from which to dig. You can count on the fact that Bucknell and other opposing pitching staffs will be working against us this weekend; they could have something to do with our production, we will see. Bucknell gets first crack.