May 14, 2008
Patriot League Baseball Championship Series Release
Center Valley, Pa. - After advancing with victories in the final game of their best-of-three semifinal series, No. 4 seed Bucknell and No. 2 Navy square off for the Patriot League Baseball Championship on Friday and Saturday in Annapolis. The first game is set for Friday at 3 p.m., with game two on Saturday at Noon and game three, if necessary, coming 30 minutes after the conclusion of game two.
Navy leads all Patriot League schools with five titles, while Bucknell is tied for third in League annals with three crowns. Both teams are trying to end championship droughts, with Navy's last title coming in 2002 and Bucknell's in 2003. The Bison and Mids are familiar foes in the Patriot League Tournament as well. Bucknell has an 8-6 record in the all-time matchups, and the teams have met in the Championship series five times. All of Bucknell's titles (1996, 2001, 2003) came at the expense of the Mids, while two of Navy's crowns (1998 and 1999) were when they faced Bucknell in the finals.
The Bison used a pair of great pitching performances from Patriot League Player of the Year Jason Buursma and timely hitting to win the semifinal series at No. 1 seed Army. Buursma earned both of Bucknell's victories by throwing a combined seven scoreless innings with just one hit out of the bullpen. Ben Allen won game one for the Bison with a home run in the 10th inning for a 5-4 triumph, while Drew Constable's eighth-inning RBI single gave Bucknell a 1-0 victory in the decisive game three.
Navy fought back from a series deficit to outlast No. 3 Holy Cross and advance to the Championship round. The Mids dropped game one, 6-0, but stormed back with a 12-1 victory in game two. Navy trailed 4-3 after three innings in game three, but rallied for three runs in the fourth and pulled away for a 9-5 win to claim the series.
Bucknell and Navy met earlier in the season in Lewisburg, with the teams splitting the four-game series from April 19-21. Navy swept a Saturday doubleheader by scores of 4-0 and 16-6 before the Bison won on Sunday, 8-2 and on Monday, 5-4, to even the weekend set.
Patriot League Championship Notebook
Championship Series Set for Annapolis
For the first time since 2002, the Patriot League Baseball Championship series will be played in Annapolis at Navy's Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium. The Mids hosted their first Tournament series since that year when they defeated Holy Cross in the semifinals. While recent Championship series have gone elsewhere, Navy is still the most common host of the finals. The Mids will be hosting the Championship for the sixth time. They have won three of the five Championship series played in Annapolis.
Patriot League Champions
Navy leads all teams in Patriot League history with five all-time titles, while Bucknell has three. Bucknell's last title came in 2003, while Navy's was in 2002. Lafayette won last year's Patriot League Championship.
Familiar Foes Meet Again
While Navy and Bucknell are looking to end Championship droughts, they are common opponents in the final round of the Patriot League Tournament. The Mids and Bison are meeting in the Championship series for the sixth time, more than any other final matchup. Buckell has won three of the prior meetings (1996, 2001 and 2003), with all of its titles coming against Navy. The Mids won the matchups in 1998 and 1999. Bucknell has a 7-6 advantage in Patriot League Championship series meetings, and an 8-6 edge in overall Tournament matchups. Navy and Bucknell have met in the final series in Annapolis twice, with the Mids winning in 1998 and the Bison triumphing in 2001. That Bison team was the last Patriot League squad to win the title on the road.
A Patriot League Tournament First
When Bucknell defeated Army on Sunday, it made the 2008 season the first time that the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament will not play in the Championship series. Of course, that was a given before this year, as the No. 1 seed had a bye to the final round in a three-team field that played at a single site. This is the first season where the Patriot League used a four-team, two-weekend format that featured best-of-three series for the semifinals and Championship. The No. 1 seed had also won the last six titles. Bucknell, as the first No. 4 seed to play in the field, has a shot to become the first to win the title as well. Navy is looking to become the fourth No. 2 seed to win the crown, and first since Bucknell beat the Mids in 2001.
Patriot League Tournament History
The Patriot League is holding its 15th baseball tournament, with the first taking place in 1993. There were three seasons that a postseason tournament was not conducted (1991, 1992 and 1995). In 1993 and 1994 the tournament consisted of just the top two teams and was expanded to a three-team field in 1996. The 2008 Tournament is the first to feature a four-team, two-weekend, best-of-three format.
No Dominant Champion in 2008
After a close and competitive Patriot League regular season, the winner of the Bucknell/Navy series will have one of the most ordinary League records for an eventual champion. An Army team which finished 10-8 in League play in 2000 had the fewest Patriot League wins for an eventual champion, while an 11-9 Navy squad in 1994 had the lowest winning percentage. Bucknell finished the Patriot League season at 10-10 and Navy was 11-9. The marks were the result of the most competitive race in League annals. Only six games separated first-place Army from sixth-place Lehigh in the Patriot League standings. It was the first time that all League teams were within six games of each other.
Everyone Wins 20
For the first time in League history, all six Patriot League schools have recorded 20 victories for the season. Holy Cross finished with 21 victories for its first 20-win season since 1980. Every other team has at least 23 wins, including Navy with a League-high 32. Before this year, there was no season where every team won more than 16 games.
Patriot League Baseball Championship
No. 4 Bucknell (24-22-2, 10-10 PL) at No. 2 Navy (32-23-1, 11-9 PL)
Fri, May 16 - 3 p.m. - Game 1
Sat, May 17 - 12 p.m. - Game 2
Sat, May 17 - 30 minutes after conclusion of Game 2 - Game 3 (If Necessary)
Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium - Annapolis, Md.
How They Got Here: The No. 2 seed in the field, Navy finished with an 11-9 record in the regular season. The Mids came back to defeat No. 3 Holy Cross in the best-of-three semifinal series after losing the opening contest at home. Bucknell earned the No. 4 seed in the field with a 10-10 mark in League play. The Bison won a pair of close games to get past Army in three, taking game one, 5-4, in 10 innings and winning the decisive game three, 1-0.
Tournament History: Bucknell and Navy meet for the sixth time in the Patriot League Championship series, more than any other matchup. The Bison have an 8-6 all-time advantage against the Mids, with a 7-6 edge in Championship series games. All three of Bucknell's titles (1996, 2001 and 2003) came against the Mids, while two of Navy's five crowns (1998 and 1999) came when they faced Bucknell in the Championship round. The teams have faced off twice in Annapolis, with Navy pulling off a two-game sweep in 1998 and Bucknell doing the same in 2001. That Bison team was the last squad in the League to win the title on the road. Bucknell is 13-13 in Tournament history with three titles, while Navy holds a 16-14 mark with four Patriot League Tournament titles. Navy has qualified for its 12th tourney and second straight, while Bucknell is in the field for the 10th time and third in the last four campaigns. Bucknell is in the Championship series for the second time in the last three years, most recently losing to Lehigh in 2006. Navy is headed to its first title series since losing to Bucknell in 2003. The Mids are in the Championship series for the ninth time overall (4-4 record), while Bucknell competes in the final round for the eighth time (3-4).
2008 Season Series: Navy and Bucknell split four games during the regular season when they met in Lewisburg from April 19-21. The Mids claimed a doubleheader sweep on April 19 to open the series, with Mitch Harris firing a shutout for a 4-0 win in the opener and the offense exploding for 21 hits in a 16-6 win in the finale. Bucknell got a win on the board with an 8-2 triumph behind a complete game from Mat Wilson on April 20, then evened the four-game set by holding off a Navy rally for a 5-4 win on April 21.
Bucknell The Bison advanced to the Patriot League Championship by taking two of three games at Army in last week's semifinal round. Playing as the first No. 4 seed in League history, they will have an opportunity to become the lowest-seeded team to ever win the title. The Bison won a pair of close games with Army, with a 5-4 victory in 10 innings on Ben Allen's game-winning home run in game one and a 1-0 triumph in game three when Drew Constable singled in the only run of the game in the eighth inning. Jason Buursma came out of relief to pick up both victories in the series, pitching seven combined scoreless innings with just one hit allowed. Buursma's seven total wins are the most in the Patriot League, and the most for a Bucknell pitcher since 2001. Already honored as the Patriot League Player of the Year, Buursma was also named the Patriot League Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year this week. He becomes the fourth baseball student-athlete in League annals to win both awards in the same year. The Bison are 3-4 in the Patriot League Championship series, with the most recent appearance coming in a loss to Lehigh in two games in 2006. They are 3-2 in the round against Navy.
Navy The Midshipmen rallied after losing game one to claim two of three games at home in their semifinal series against Holy Cross last weekend. Navy won game two, 12-1, behind 7.2 strong innings from Oliver Drake and a 17-hit offensive effort. The Mids trailed, 4-3, after three innings of the final contest on Sunday, but scored three runs in the fourth inning to claim the lead for good in the 9-5 triumph. Thomas Hamilton, Michael Speciale and Kendall Bolt went 10-for-14 with five runs scored and three RBI in the contest. Hamilton is up to 84 hits for the year, which is the second-best single-season mark in League annals and just four behind the record set by Lehigh's Matt McBride in 2006. Hamilton also leads the Patriot League with a .394 batting average. Navy has won three of the five Patriot League Championship series matchups played in Annapolis, with titles in 1994, 1998 and 2002 and runner-up finishes in 2000 and 2001. Navy has won four of its eight overall appearances in the Championship series. The Mids are trying to become the first No. 2 seed to win the title since Bucknell did it in 2001. Navy won as a No. 2 seed in 1999, beating Bucknell.