Army Sweeps Doubleheader From Harvard

Kevin McKague

Kevin McKague

March 23, 2012

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WEST POINT, N.Y. - Kevin McKague combined to go 2-for-5 with three runs batted in, and the two-way standout saved both of the Black Knights' wins as Army swept a doubleheader from Harvard on Friday afternoon at Doubleday Field.

McKague was 2-for-3 with two RBI and one run scored in the opening game to help the Black Knights take a 4-2 decision from the Crimson. The senior from Fayetteville, N.C., then drove home a run during Army's five-run seventh inning uprising as the Black Knights rallied for a 5-4 victory in the nightcap.

McKague, who starts at first base, but also doubles as Army's closer, struck out the side in picking up the save in the first game. He earned his second save of the day, and fourth of the season, in the nightcap as he worked around a leadoff walk to nail down Army's third straight victory.

The Black Knights, who have won eight of their last 10 games, improve to 13-6 on the season following today's sweep. Harvard, meanwhile, falls to 1-14 on the year. The Crimson has lost nine games decided by two runs or fewer.

J.T. Watkins and Harold Earls helped lead the charge offensively as both players posted at least one hit in both ends of today's doubleheader. Watkins went 1-for-3 with an RBI triple and a run scored in the opener, before going 1-for-3 in the nightcap. Earls, meanwhile, was 1-for-3 in the first game and 3-for-4 with a triple and a run scored in the second contest.

Army jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning in the opener as the Black Knights pushed across three runs on three extra base hits. Daniel Cortes began the rally when he worked a one-out walk. After stealing second base, he scored when McKague lined a double down the left field line. Watkins followed by smacking an RBI triple that caromed halfway up the wall in right center field. Then, with two outs, Cody Murtle ripped a run-scoring double down the left field line.

"It was great to get on them early," said McKague. "That left-hander who started for them was very good, but we were able to get ahead of him in that first inning and that was huge for our confidence."

The early run support helped Army starter Chris Rowley establish a rhythm. The junior righty faced just one over the minimum over the first four innings and retired seven in a row at one point.

Harvard finally got to Rowley in the top of the fifth inning as the Crimson scored two runs on two hits to pull to within 3-2. Carlton Bailey singled leading off the frame, and he moved to second base when Jake McGuiggan walked. Ethan Ferreira then blasted a double into the gap in left center field to plate both Bailey and McGuiggan. After Rowley got Jon Smart to ground out to first base for the first out of the inning, Ferreira was cut down at home plate when J.T. Tomes was unable to execute a squeeze bunt. Tomes then popped out to second base to end the frame.

Army got one of those runs back in the bottom of the fifth as the Black Knights manufactured a two-out rally and extended their lead to 4-2. Zach Price was hit by a pitch with two down, moved to second base when Cortes walked and scored when McKague grounded a base hit through the left side of the infield.

After allowing a leadoff single to begin the sixth inning, Rowley (5-0) struck out the side and turned the game over to McKague in the seventh. The hard-throwing closer proceeded to strike out the side in the seventh to preserve the victory.

Rowley, who has won his last five starts, struck out four batters and faced just four over the minimum during his outing. He allowed just two runs on five hits and one walk.

Brent Suter (0-4) took the loss for Harvard after yielding four runs on five hits and three walks. The lefty struck out five batters in 5.2 innings of work. Ferreira was 1-for-3 with that two-run double to spur the Crimson offense.

After three scoreless frames, Harvard took a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning in the nightcap. Jeff Reynolds drew a leadoff walk, and he moved all the way to third base on Jack Colton's one-out single. McGuiggan followed with a sacrifice fly to score Reynolds from third. Ferreira then smacked a two-run homer over the fence in left center to make it 3-0.

The Crimson tacked on an unearned run in the top of the seventh to increase its lead to 4-0. The lead seemed secure with Harvard starter Joey Novak limiting Army to just three hits over six scoreless innings.

Harvard called upon its bullpen to begin the bottom of the seventh, however, and the Black Knights rallied for five runs against three Crimson relievers.

The first eight Army batters of the inning reached base and the Black Knights scored five times on three hits to take a 5-4 advantage. Murtle walked on four pitches leading off the inning against Harvard's Matt Timoney. Earls and Alex Jensen then hit consecutive singles to load the bases. Timoney promptly plunked pinch-hitter Tyler Williams to force home Army's first run of the game. Price then greeted Harvard reliever Baron Davis (0-1) with a two-run single to score both Earls and Jensen and trim the Crimson lead to 4-3. Cortes and McKague followed with back-to-back walks with McKague's free pass forcing home Williams with the game-tying run. After Watkins struck out, Mark McCants drew the fourth walk of the inning to plate Price with the go-ahead run.

"It was awesome," said Price of scoring the go-ahead run. "It certainly felt like lifting a weight off our shoulders; it was nice to score that run."

The game was then turned over to Army reliever Manny Fernandez, who worked a scoreless eighth inning. McKague nailed down the win by pitching a hitless ninth.

Taylor Goucher (1-0) earned the win in relief after coming on for Army starter Nick Dignacco in the top of the seventh. Dignacco gave up four runs (three earned) on six hits in 6.1 innings and was on the hook for the loss before Army rallied.

Ferreira went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI to pace the Crimson offensively.

Army and Harvard will close out their four-game series on Saturday, March 24, with a doubleheader scheduled for 11 a.m.

Game Notes: Army improves to 31-47-1 all-time versus Harvard ... the Black Knights wore their white uniforms with black caps today ... J.T. Watkins recorded Army's first triple of the season in the opening contest ... it marked Watkins' third career triple ... Watkins extended his hitting streak to 13 straight games with hits in both ends of today's doubleheader ... Harold Earls smacked his first career triple in the nightcap ... Earls has reached base safely in 16 straight games ... Kevin McKague's first inning double in the opening game was the 44th of his career, moving him into a tie with Cole White for third place on Army's all-time list ... Kevin McKague recorded his 25th and 26th career saves today, moving him just one save shy of Milan Dinga's Academy record ... Taylor Goucher earned his first career win in the nightcap ... Chris Rowley has already matched his win 2011 win total (five) ... Manny Fernandez leads the Black Knights with eight appearances this spring.

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