WEST POINT - Donny Murray fired a one-hit shutout to help Holy Cross take a 2-0 decision in the opener, and the Crusaders held on to secure an 11-9 victory in the nightcap to sweep a Patriot League baseball doubleheader from Army on Sunday afternoon at Doubleday Field.
The sweep gives Holy Cross (25-22, 15-5 PL) its first-ever Patriot League regular-season title, and the top-seeded Crusaders will host No. 4 Bucknell in the first round of next month’s conference tournament. Army (21-21, 11-9 PL) finished third in the Patriot League standings and will travel to Annapolis, Md., to battle second-seeded Navy in a first-round match-up. Both best-of-three semifinal series will take place during the weekend of May 11-12.
Murray (5-3) stymied Army’s offense in the first game, striking out five batters en route to his first shutout of the season. He did not allow a hit until Patrick Mescher led off the fifth inning with a single into center field. Murray walked two and faced just three over the minimum.
Army starter Alex Robinett (6-3) was nearly as good, permitting just two runs (one earned) on three hits in a complete game of his own. He fanned four batters and walked only one.
After four scoreless frames, Holy Cross pushed across an unearned run in the top of the fifth. Patrick Puentes reached on an error leading off the inning, stole second, advanced to third on Bobby Indeglia’s fly out to right field and scored when he executed a double-steal with Stephen Wadsworth.
The Crusaders added an insurance run in the sixth inning when Evan Ocello hit a leadoff double and scored on Andrew Barry’s RBI single.
Holy Cross jumped all over Army in the nightcap, scoring 11 times over the first five innings to assume a comfortable 11-0 cushion. The Crusaders sent 12 men to the plate in the fifth inning and scored seven runs on seven hits to blow the game open.
Army refused to go away quietly, however, scoring two runs in the fifth, six more in the seventh and one in the eighth to trim Holy Cross’ lead to 11-9. Ben Smith ignited Army’s comeback, entering the game in the fifth inning and finishing 2-for-3 with two RBI and one run scored. It was Smith’s two-run pinch-hit single that put the Black Knights on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth inning, trimming the Crusaders’ lead to 11-2.
Army then batted around in the bottom of the seventh and scored six unearned runs on three hits and three Holy Cross errors. Jacob Page reached on an error to begin the frame and back-to-back singles by Michael Sands and Smith loaded the bases. Justin Reece drove in the first run of the inning when he reached on a fielder’s choice. Dakari Cooke followed with a sacrifice fl-y and Alex Jensen came through with a two-run single to make it 11-7. Brock Davidson’s RBI groundout capped the rally, which left the Black Knights trailing by just three runs (11-8).
Page began Army’s eighth-inning uprising as well, singling to begin the frame. He advanced to second when Sands reached on a fielder’s choice, stole third and scored when Reece reached on a fielder’s choice.
Army put the potential tying runs on base in the bottom of the ninth inning, but Holy Cross closer John Colella struck out Ryan Levenhagen, Page and Sands to end the threat and collect his sixth save of the season.
Chris Kono (4-1) earned the victory on the mound for the Crusaders after allowing seven runs (two earned) on six hits over 6.1 innings.
Army starter Julian Larimer (1-2) took the loss, yielding six runs (four earned) on four hits in 4.1 innings.
Page finished 2-for-5 with three runs scored in the nightcap, while Jensen and Reece each had two RBI. The Black Knights recorded nine hits in the contest.
Nick Lovullo was 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI to pace Holy Cross’ 11-hit attack. Barry and Brandon Cipolla each collected two hits apiece.
Army continues its eight-game homestand in West Point on Wednesday, May 1st, when the Black Knights play host to NYIT at 3:30 p.m.