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April 13th, 2008

Army Baseball Wins Fifth Straight Star, Sweeps Doubleheader



Cole White. Photo: AAC

ANNAPOLIS, Md.Cole White threw a complete-game one-hitter and a pair of freshmen knocked in runs as the Army baseball team earned its fifth straight “Star” with a doubleheader sweep of Navy, Sunday in Patriot League action at an overcast Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium.

Freshman Mike Greco and Kevin McKague knocked in runs in a 2-1 eight-inning victory and Ben Koenigsfeld earned the win in the 10-2 second game as Army won the series with Navy for the fifth consecutive time. The series will conclude with a nine-inning game on Monday.

The Black Knights improved to 14-18 overall and 6-5 in league action while Navy fell to 20-16 and 6-5 in conference play. Navy was leading the conference standings heading into the weekend.

Army opened the series with a 14-3 win on Saturday and won their seventh straight game in Annapolis with a pair of victories on Sunday.

In the opener, White outdueled Mitch Harris in an extra-inning affair in which the winning run was scored in the top of the eighth on a run-scoring single by McKague.

In the second game, Army scored at least two runs in the second, third and fourth innings with a 12-hit attack against five Navy pitchers on the way to the eight-run victory.

“I’m pleased but more proud,” Army head coach Joe Sottolano said. “To have our senior class all play an integral part in the victories and go out that way is very special.:

White earned his first win of the season with his best performance to date.  He allowed just a fifth-inning double, struck out six and walked five and beat Navy for the second consecutive year

Harris, the Navy ace who sported a 1.35 earned run average, allowed two earned runs in 7.2 innings of work. He walked three and struck out seven.

“Cole really competed today,” Sottolano said. “He was throwing his breaking ball and slider for strikes and did a great job. And, he swung the bat very well.”

Koenigsfeld threw eight innings, scattered nine hits, struck out six and did not walk a batter while improving to 3-3.

Senior catcher Chris Simmons scored three runs, had two hits and knocked in two runs in the second game while freshman Clint Moore had two hits and two runs batted in. Greco also had two RBI in the second game.

“What a great job by Chris Simmons,” said Sottolano. “He called every game this weekend, swung the bat extremely well and blocked everything.”

In the first game, Army had a runner on in the top of the inning as White was hit by a pitch and stole second but Harris had his second strikeout of the season to end the inning.

The Black Knights manufactured the first run in the second inning. J.P. Polchinski worked a full count walk, went to second on a Simmons sacrifice bunt and moved to third on a wild pitch. Greco hit a slow roller in front of home plate and Polchinski came around to score when the catcher bobbled the ball for a 1-0 lead.

Navy had its first runner in the bottom of the second when Michael Speciale was hit by a pitch. White responded with a strikeout looking and a pop out in foul territory to end the inning.

White walked the leadoff hitter in the top of the fourth on four pitches but the No. 3 hitter, Thomas Hamilton hit into a 5-4-3 double play and a fly out ended the inning.

Greco had the game’s first hit in the top of the fifth with a sharp single to right before a strikeout and groundout ended the inning.

Navy had its first hit in the bottom of the fifth and tied the game. Speciale walked on four pitches and moved to third on a double by Kendall Bolt. A sacrifice fly to right scored Speciale and sent Bolt to third. White got the second out of the inning on a great play on a ball up the middle and struck out the leadoff hitter to end the inning with the game tied at 1.

For the second consecutive inning, Army had a base runner aboard when Moore led off the sixth with a single up the middle. Following a sacrifice bunt by Andy Ernesto, Moore went to third on a ground out but a line drive out preserved the tie.

White walked his fourth batter of the day with two outs in the sixth inning but induced a flyout to end the inning.

Simmons singled in the top of the seventh inning for the Black Knights’ third hit but a flyout and fielders’ choice ended the frame.

Army scored the game-winning run in the top of the eighth inning and chased Harris in the process. With two outs, Ernesto walked and White fouled off two pitches in a full count before earning the free pass and ending Harris’ day.  Drew Carlson came on to pitch and worked the count against McKague to 1-2. With the base runners moving on a double-steal attempt that drew the third baseman to cover third, McKague singled through the vacated infield hole to plate Ernesto for a 2-1 Army lead.

White made a great play on a ground ball back up the middle and posted his sixth strikeout to open the eighth. Following a walk, a ground out ended the game and earned the "Star" for the Black Knights.

In the nightcap, Army opened the scoring in the top of the second, again with two outs. McKague reached on an error and one out later, Simmons singled. Following a strikeout, Kyle Stramara was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Tony Capozzi worked a walk to force in McKague and then Moore singled to right to plate two more runs for a 3-0 Army lead.

The Black Knights upped their advantage to 5-0 thanks to another clutch two-out hit by Greco. With one out, McKague singled. One out later, Simmons drew a walk. Greco then drilled a double to left field, scoring McKague and Simmons before a strikeout ended the inning.

Navy cut its deficit to three with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third. Nick Driscoll led off the inning with a double, took third on a ground out and scored on a wild pitch. Speciale then tripled and scored on the second out of the inning, a ground ball to second, that made the contest 5-2 in favor of Army.

Army took advantage of a second Navy error to score three runs in the fourth. Moore led off the inning with a long double to the corner in left field and moved to third when Andy Ernesto bunted for a basehit. White lined a shot to the second baseman, which made the first out but threw the ball away trying to complete the double play at first. The error allowed Moore to score and Ernesto to go to third. Ernesto later scored on a wild pitch, McKague doubled and scored easily when Simmons blasted a triple to the fence in right-center field chasing starting pitcher Mark McCoy.

Navy had two runners on in the fifth inning but Koenigsfeld registered two strikeouts to end the inning and hold the 8-2 Army lead.

Army wasn’t done scoring runs yet. J.P. Polchinski led off the seventh with a single and moved to second on a balk. Simmons’ third hit of the game of the game was a sharp single to right that scored Polchinski without a throw and ended the day of relief pitcher Sam Long. Two outs later, Simmons came around to score on an error by the shortstop to reach the double digit mark in runs for the tenth time this season. It was also the 16th time Army had double digit hits this season.

Koenigsfeld remained in control, working ahead and keep zeroes on the scoreboard. Pinch-hitter Jonathan Berkowicz doubled before a flyout ended the inning. Navy also had a runner on in the eighth but a double play kept the score 10-2.

Sean Rainbird threw a scoreless ninth inning to conclude the sweep.

The series will conclude with a nine-inning contest Monday beginning at 1:30 p.m.


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