March 13, 2012
Box Score (.pdf)
AUBURNDALE, Fla. -
Alex Robinett struck out a career-high 11 batters over seven strong innings, and Army rallied from an early 3-0 deficit to defeat Nebraska-Omaha, 8-3, on a beautiful Tuesday evening at Lake Myrtle Park.
Robinett (1-1) allowed three unearned runs in the first inning, but limited the Mavericks to just six hits during his outing. The freshman righty, who did not walk a batter, faced the minimum over his final four frames en route to his first career victory.
"It's easy to pitch with this team, because the other eight guys all know what they're doing," said Robinett. "Having those guys behind me makes it a lot easier to pitch well, because I can just throw strikes and let the (opposition) put it in play."
Manny Fernandez came out of the Army bullpen and tossed a perfect eighth inning, and Kevin McKague worked a 1-2-3 ninth to nail down the Black Knights' fourth straight victory. Army's three pitchers combined to allow just one base hit after the third inning, and the Black Knight hurlers faced the minimum over the final six frames.
Cody Murtle led Army (9-4) offensively, going 3-for-4 with three RBI and one run scored. Zach Price was 1-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Daniel Cortes went 1-for-3 with a pair of runs batted in. Mark McCants finished 1-for-3 with two runs scored and one RBI.
"I was very pleased with Alex's performance tonight," said Army head coach Joe Sottolano. "He threw three pitches for strikes and commanded both sides of the plate. We came out of the gates a little sluggish defensively, but Alex was patient and allowed us to stay in the ballgame. He bent a little bit in the first inning, but he didn't break, and he held service long enough for us to catch up and then move ahead."
Nebraska-Omaha (3-14) took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning as the Mavericks pushed across three unearned runs on three hits and one Army error. Mark Waldron produced the big blow in the frame, lacing a two-run double down the right field line.
Robinett proceeded to shut down the Mavericks after the first inning, allowing just three singles over his final six frames.
"I felt like I found my rhythm," said Robinett. "I was trying to push the tempo, and get back on the mound. I definitely found my rhythm during those last few innings."
Army got one of those runs back in the top of the second inning as Murtle ripped an RBI single to center field to score McCants from second base and trim UNO's advantage to 3-1.
The Black Knights pulled to within 3-2 in the top of the sixth as they scored one run without the aid of a hit. Price was hit by a pitch leading off the inning and Cortes drew a walk to put runners on first and second. After McKague struck out, J.T. Watkins drew the second walk of the frame to load the bases. McCants then hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Price from third.
Army moved in front, 5-3, in the top of the seventh as the Black Knights tallied three runs on three hits. Murtle began the uprising with a leadoff single. Alex Jensen then drew a walk, and both runners moved up a base on Dakari Cooke's sacrifice bunt. Price followed with an RBI single up the middle to drive home Murtle and knot the score at 3-3. After Price advanced to second base on a wild pitch, Cortes delivered a base hit up the middle to plate two more runs and give the Black Knights their first lead.
Army tacked on three more runs in the eighth inning to extend its lead to 8-3. Watkins drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on McCants' bunt single. Harold Earls was then hit by a pitch to load the bases for Murtle, who ripped a two-run single to score both Watkins and McCants. Earls moved to third base on that play thanks to a UNO throwing error, and he plated the third run of the frame on Cooke's sacrifice fly.
Brandon Winkelman (1-1) took the loss for the Mavericks after yielding six runs (five earned) on five hits in 1.2 innings. Caleb Palensky led UNO offensively, collecting two of the team's six base hits.
Army has won nine of its last 11 games since opening the season 0-2, and Sottolano is happy with the direction of his club.
"It's been a solid stretch for us, and we're pleased with the strides that we've made to date, but there is still more work to be done," added Sottolano.
After a pair of practice days, Army will return to game action on Friday, March 16, when the Black Knights travel to Lakeland, Fla., to face Iowa at historic Henley Field. First pitch for the contest is slated for 11 a.m.
Game Notes: Army improves to 1-0 all-time versus Nebraska-Omaha ... the Black Knights are off to their best 13-game start (9-4) since beginning the 1986 campaign with a 10-3 record ... Army pitching recorded a season-high 14 strikeouts today ... Alex Robinett's 11 strikeouts are the most recorded by a Black Knight pitcher this season ... Robinett lowered his earned run average to a microscopic 0.89 following today's outing ... he has 16 strikeouts and just four walks on the season ... J.T. Watkins extended his hitting streak to seven straight games with a double in the second inning ... Alex Jensen has reached base in 12 straight games, while Harold Earls has reached base safely in 10 straight.