Army Splits Doubleheader At High Point

Alex Jensen

Alex Jensen

Feb. 18, 2012

Game One Box Score Get Acrobat Reader

Game Two Box Score Get Acrobat Reader

HIGH POINT, N.C. - Alex Jensen went 4-for-5 and drove in the go-ahead run during Army's four-run eighth inning as the Black Knights defeated High Point, 6-1, in the nightcap of a non-league doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Coy O. Williard Stadium.

High Point (2-1) won the first game, 8-5, as the Panthers took two of three from the Black Knights during the opening weekend of the season.

Zach Price broke loose from a 1-for-9 start to the season by collecting three hits in the second game of the twinbill as Army (1-2) exploded offensively late in the contest. Kevin McKague and Matthew Carter both went 2-for-5 at the plate to help lead Army's 13-hit attack. McKague's two-run double capped Army's eighth-inning uprising and gave the Black Knights a 5-1 lead.

Army starter Alex Robinett, making his first career start for the Black Knights, shut down the High Point offense through five innings. The freshman right-hander allowed just three hits in five scoreless frames, striking out two and walking just one.

High Point starting pitcher Jacob Newberry pitched into and out of trouble throughout his outing, but Army did not make him pay early. The Black Knights stranded nine runners on base over the opening four frames, including a pair of bases-loaded situations.

Army finally broke through with the game's first run in the fifth inning as the Black Knights plated an unearned run. High Point came back in the sixth inning to tie the score when Devin Bujnovsky doubled, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI groundout.

After a scoreless seventh inning, Army broke the game open with four runs in the eighth. Harold Earls walked on four pitches, stole second base, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a run-scoring single by Jensen. Carter then reached on a bunt single and Price roped a base hit to center field to load the bases. Daniel Cortes drove home Jensen with a sacrifice fly, and McKague smashed a two-run double to left field to score Carter and Price.

The run support was more than enough for Nick Dignacco (1-0), who tossed three innings of relief en route to his first career victory. The sophomore lefty allowed just one run on one hit while striking out three.

The Black Knights capped the scoring in the top of the ninth with another RBI single by Jensen. Michael Sands walked with one out, moved to second base on Earls' sacrifice bunt and scored on Jensen's base hit up the middle.

Gunnar Carroll came out of the Army bullpen and worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning to wrap up the Black Knights' first win of the season.

Matt Armstead (0-1) was saddled with the loss after giving up four runs on four hits in two innings of relief.

Bujnovsky collected two of High Point's four hits in the nightcap, going 2-for-4 with a run scored.

"Alex threw the ball well today," said Army head coach Joe Sottolano. "He competed down in the zone and threw a lot of strikes. He was able to make quality pitches when he needed to, and he kept High Point off the scoreboard. Nick was able to minimize the damage in his first inning of relief, and was solid throughout. Harold Earls had a big hit to get us on the board, and it was nice to see Kevin McKague come through with that double in the eighth inning."

High Point grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning of the opening game as the Panthers pushed across an unearned run without the aid of a hit.

Army had a chance to tie the score in the top of the fourth, but McKague was thrown out at home plate trying to score from second base on J.T. Watkins' single.

High Point extended its lead to 2-0 in the bottom half of the fourth. Sal Pezzino and Ryne Rush began the frame with consecutive singles, and they each moved up a base following Andrew Bartlett's sacrifice bunt. Scott Glover then delivered Pezzino from third base with a sacrifice fly to right field. Army starter Chris Rowley was able to avoid further damage by retiring Josh Spano with Rush on third base.

The Black Knights plated three runs on four hits and one High Point error in the fifth inning to assume a 3-2 advantage. Sands began Army's rally with a one-out single up the middle. The junior advanced all the way to third base when a pickoff throw sailed wide and scored on Earls' RBI single. Earls then took second on a wild pitch and plated the Black Knights' second run on Cody Murtle's run-scoring double into the gap in left-center field. Murtle's two-base hit chased High Point starter Jon Carlson from the contest. Panther reliever Will Resnik retired Price on a groundball to second base, but Cortes came through with a two-out RBI single to score Murtle from third and give Army a 3-2 lead. Cortes' base hit forced High Point to call on the bullpen for the second time in the inning, and John Maloney was able to end the Black Knights' uprising by retiring McKague on a fly ball to center field.

High Point scored another unearned run in the bottom half of the fifth to tie the score at 3-3. After retiring the first two batters of the inning, Rowley walked Bujnovsky and plunked Ryan Retz to put runners on first and second. The Panthers then executed a double steal and Bujnovsky scored the game-tying run when Watkins' throw went awry. Sottolano called on Ken Jackson out of the Black Knights' bullpen, and the junior righty induced an inning-ending groundout from Pezzino to end the threat.

The Panthers reclaimed the lead in the sixth inning, scoring one run on three hits to assume a 4-3 edge. Rush reached on an infield single to start the frame, and he went from first to third on Bartlett's base hit to right field. Sam Glover then ripped an RBI single through the right side of the infield to score Rush with the go-ahead run. Jackson minimized the damage, however, getting Spano to roll into a double play and inducing Zach Hubbard to foul out to first.

High Point made it 6-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning when Bujnovsky blasted a two-run homer off Jackson (0-1). Sean Wilson led off the frame with a single and scored in front of Bujnovsky, who connected off Jackson.

Army trimmed High Point's lead to 6-5 in the top of the eighth inning as the Black Knights engineered a two-out rally. After the first two Army hitters of the frame were retired, Watkins was hit by a pitch and Jensen drew a walk. Both players then motored all the way around to score on Sands' two-run double to left-center field. High Point closer Jaime Schultz was brought into the game and he retired Earls on a grounder to second base to end the inning.

High Point tacked a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth to take an 8-5 advantage. The Panthers strung together three consecutive one-out singles off Army reliever Scott Lucado to plate the first run. A Black Knight fielding error opened the door for the second run.

Schultz stayed in the game and pitched the ninth inning to pick up his second save of the series. Zach Haile (1-0), who tossed two scoreless innings of relief, earned the win for the Panthers.

Sands and Murtle recorded two hits apiece to pace Army's seven-hit attack in the opener. Wilson and Rush each posted two hits to lead High Point's offense. Both teams committed three errors defensively in the first game.

Rowley did not figure in the decision in the opener. The junior right-hander allowed just one earned run on three hits in 4.2 innings of work. He struck out three batters and issued two walks.

"I thought our offense began to get on track during the first game today," said Sottolano. "The guys were very competitive at the plate and put together some good at-bats against tough left-handed pitcher. I was pleased by the fact that we kept battling back right up until the end. Unfortunately, there were times when we didn't help ourselves out there, and those types of mistakes proved costly in the first two games of the series. We'll learn from those mistakes, though, and clean things up moving forward.

"Chris Rowley pitched extremely well into the fifth inning. He has shown glimpses of having what it takes to be a dominant starting pitcher for us, and I am confident that he will continue to get better with each start.

"We will take a lot away from this opening weekend," added Sottolano. "We leave here with answers to several of the questions that we had when we first got down here. These three games have provided us with a lot of direction. We know what we have to work on as a team, and we're going to get back to work and prepare for our next test. Our guys did a lot of good things both at the plate and on the mound this weekend, and we have a lot to build on as we go forward. I thought our underclassmen showed great maturity dealing with adversity; it's a tough group of young men determined to succeed."

Army continues its season-opening road trip next weekend (Feb. 25-26) with a three-game series at George Washington. The teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 25, and a single game on Sunday, Feb. 26.

Game Notes: Army's all-time record versus High Point moves to 1-2 ... Connor Love and Michael Sands drew their first career starts in the opener ... Harold Earls recorded his first career RBI in the first game when his fifth inning single delivered Sands from third base ... Sands posted his first career double and first RBI of his career with his two-run double in the eighth inning of the opener ... Cody Murtle's fifth inning double in the first game marked Army's first extra-base hit of the season ... it was Murtle's sixth career two-base hit ... Daniel Cortes collected his first career hit and first career RBI in the first game when he delivered Murtle from third base during Army's three-run fifth inning rally ... Alex Jensen recorded his first career hits and RBI in the nightcap ... Dakari Cooke and Mark McCants made their career debuts as both were inserted in the second game of today's doubleheader ... Clayton Mosley, Nick Dignacco and Gunnar Carroll saw their first action of the season.

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