Army Falls At Columbia, 7-5

Kevin McKague

Kevin McKague

March 28, 2012

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NEW YORK - Nick Ferraresi and Alex Black combined to go 4-for-6 with four runs scored and two RBI as Columbia defeated Army, 7-5, in a non-league baseball game Wednesday afternoon at Robertson Field at Satow Stadium.

Columbia led 7-1 after two innings, but had to hold on for the win after Army rallied with runs in the third, fourth and seventh frames. The Lions have won three straight games and improve to 6-13 on the season. Army, meanwhile, saw its five-game win streak snapped and falls to 15-7 on the year.

"I thought we came out flat early in the game and it ultimately cost us," said Army head coach Joe Sottolano. "Our relievers came in and did a nice job of putting up zeroes. They gave us a chance to come from behind, and we had several opportunities to win the game late.

"There are several lessons that can be taken away from today's ballgame," added Sottolano. "Now, we have to get back to work and make the proper adjustments as we prepare to begin our conference schedule this weekend."

Kevin McKague was 2-for-4 with a pair of extra-base hits, two RBI and one run scored to lead the Black Knights offensively. Harold Earls and Alex Jensen collected two hits apiece to help pace Army's eight-hit attack.

Columbia took a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning as the Lions sent 11 men to the plate and scored five runs on two hits and one Black Knight error against Army starter Scott Lucado (0-1). Columbia also took advantage of two walks and three hit batsmen in the frame.

Army got one of those runs back in the top of the second inning as the Black Knights trimmed their deficit to 5-1. Cody Murtle singled leading off the inning, and Earls followed with a double down the left field line to put runners on second and third. Jensen then lofted a sacrifice fly to center field to score Murtle and move Earls to third base. Columbia starter Joey Gandolfo (1-0) was able to avoid further damage, however, striking out Andrew Johnson and Matthew Carter to end the inning.

Columbia tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the second to extend its advantage to 7-1. Ferraresi doubled with one out in the frame, and he scored on Black's RBI double. Billy Rumpke then delivered a run-scoring single to plate Black from second base.

The Black Knights pulled to within 7-3 in the top of the third inning as McKague smashed his second home run of the season. Daniel Cortes, who reached on a fielder's choice grounder, scored in front of McKague, who blasted a two-run shot over the fence in center field.

Army continued to chip away at Columbia's lead in the top of the fourth inning as the Black Knights scored a run on two hits to make it 7-4. Jensen doubled with one out, moved to third base on a failed pickoff attempt by the Columbia pitcher and scored on Carter's RBI groundout.

After two scoreless frames, the Black Knights crept even closer in the top of the seventh inning, scoring a run without the aid of a hit. Zach Price was hit by a pitch with one out, and he moved to second when Cortes reached on an error by the Columbia shortstop. McKague and J.T. Watkins were then hit by pitches to force home a run. Army seemed poised to do even more damage, but Murtle struck out and Earls grounded out to second base to end the threat and leave the bases loaded.

Army left two more runners on base in the top of the eighth inning as the Black Knights failed to cut into Columbia's two-run cushion.

Alex Robinett stranded Columbia runners at second and third to end the bottom of the eighth, keeping Army within striking distance as the game move to the ninth inning.

McKague doubled leading off the top of the ninth to give Army further hope, but the Black Knights' first baseman was stranded at second base as Columbia reliever David Spinosa retired Watkins, Murtle and Earls in succession to end the game and pick up his second save of the season.

Army returns to action on Saturday, March 31, when the Black Knights travel to Annapolis, Md., to open Patriot League play against Navy. The doubleheader is slated to begin at 12 p.m.

Game Notes: Army falls to 59-49-1 all-time versus Columbia ... Andrew Johnson drew his first career start on Wednesday, drawing the nod as the Black Knights' designated hitter ... Scott Lucado made his first start of the season on the mound for the Black Knights ... it marked Lucado's third appearance of the year ... Kevin McKague's third-inning home run was his second of the season and 21st of his career ... McKague's ninth-inning double was the 45th of his career, moving him into sole possession of third place on Army's all-time list ... Harold Earls has reached base safely in 19 straight games ... Earls is also riding a five-game hitting streak ... Daniel Cortes has reached base safely in 13 straight games.

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