Army Completes Four-Game Sweep Of Navy

Harold Earls

Harold Earls

April 1, 2012

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Army baseball team completed a four-game series sweep of Navy on Sunday afternoon as the Black Knights swept a Patriot League doubleheader from the Midshipmen at Max Bishop Stadium.

Zach Price ripped a two-run triple during Army's four-run ninth inning as the Black Knights secured a 9-5 extra-inning decision in the opening game. Army then took an early 4-0 lead and cruised to a 7-2 victory in the nightcap to finish off the four-game sweep.

The Black Knights, who have won 14 of their last 17 games, improve to 19-7 (4-0 PL) following today's action. The Midshipmen, meanwhile, fall to 11-16 (0-4 PL).

"You never go into any series thinking you're going to win all four, but we're obviously very pleased with the effort," said Army head coach Joe Sottolano. "We had to win a variety of different types of ballgames during the series, and the team remained very steady throughout it all. I thought we did a great job of staying together this weekend. Nobody panicked, everyone contributed and it was a true team effort.

"We are pleased to have gotten off to a nice start, but we understand that it hasn't gotten us anywhere yet," added Sottolano. "We still have a lot of work to do. Navy is a very good baseball team, and we know that the conference is filled with very talented clubs. We're going to have to play well the rest of the way, and we'll take it one day at a time."

Black Knight freshmen Daniel Cortes, Harold Earls and Mark McCants collected three hits apiece to lead the way offensively in the first game. Fellow freshman Dakari Cooke chipped in a 2-for-4 effort at the plate in the opening contest as Army outhit Navy, 16-7.

Navy took its first lead of the series in the first inning of the opener as the Midshipmen scored two runs on three hits to establish a 2-0 advantage. Alex Azor reached on an infield single leading off the frame, moved to second base on Dylan Wheeler's sacrifice bunt and scored on Greg Dupell's RBI double to left center field. Nickolai Simonsen followed with base hit up the middle to plate Dupell from second base with Navy's second run of the inning.

Army responded with two runs in the top of the second to level the score at 2-2. McCants singled leading off the inning and he scored all the way from first base when Earls' base hit down the left field line was misplayed by the Navy left fielder and bounced out of play. Earls moved to third base on Cooke's infield single and the Black Knights then executed a double steal with Earls scoring the game-tying run.

Navy reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the second inning on David Wiedeman's RBI double to left field. Kash Manzelli drew a leadoff walk and he scored all the way from first base on Wiedeman's two-base hit that sailed over Cortes' head.

The Black Knights pushed across two more runs in the top of the third to take their first lead of the contest. Kevin McKague worked a one-out walk and he moved to second base when McCants was hit by a pitch. McKague and McCants then successfully executed a double steal, and McKague scampered home with the first run of the frame when Navy starter Preston Gainey uncorked a wild pitch. Earls followed with an RBI single to center field to score McCants and put Army on top, 4-3.

Navy rallied to tie the score, 4-4, in the bottom of the fourth inning on Dave Milanes' RBI single.

Army engineered a two-out rally in the top of the sixth to move in front, 5-4. With two down and the baes empty, Price battled back from a 0-2 count to work a walk. Cortes then singled through the left side of the infield and McKague drilled a line drive base hit to center field to score Price from second base.

Navy pushed across the game-tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning against McKague to force extra innings. Andrew Hahn provided the big blow in the frame as the Mids' right fielder smashed a ground-rule double to left field.

The Midshipmen stranded the potential game-winning run at third base in both the seventh and eighth innings, which opened the door for Army to earn the victory.

Army blew the game open in the top of the ninth as the Black Knights scored four runs on five hits to move in front, 9-5. Cody Murtle singled to right field leading off the inning and Earls followed with a base hit to give Army runners on the corners with nobody out. Alex Jensen then lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to plate Murtle with the go-ahead run. Andrew Johnson lined a two-out a base hit to extend the inning for Price, who blasted a two-run triple into the gap in left center field. Cortes followed with an RBI single to score Price from third base and cap the four-run eruption.

McKague (1-0) was credited with the victory in the opening game after pitching the seventh and eighth innings. Manny Fernandez came on and worked the ninth to nail down the win.

Joel Rinehart (4-3) took the loss for the Midshipmen as the team's regular closer yielded four runs on eight hits over 4.2 innings of relief. Azor was 2-for-4 with two runs scored to lead Navy's offense in the first game.

Price went 3-for-4 in the second game to pace the Black Knights' 11-hit attack. Earls and Jensen each posted two hits in the contest as Army outhit Navy, 11-8, in the nightcap.

Army jumped on top, 4-0, in the second inning of the second game as the Black Knights plated four runs on three hits and two Navy throwing errors. McCants singled leading off the inning, and he moved all the way to third base when Murtle reached on a two-base error by the Navy shortstop. Earls and Jensen followed with consecutive RBI singles to give the Black Knights a 2-0 advantage. Cooke then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both Earls and Jensen into scoring position. On the very next play, Hahn caught Johnson's line drive but then threw the ball away trying to double Jensen off at second base. Hahn's throw sailed out of play, allowing both Earls and Jensen to score and extending the Army lead to 4-0.

Navy cut Army's lead in half in the bottom of the second as the Midshipmen pushed across two runs on three hits. Chris Cannon hit a leadoff single, and Wiedeman ripped a base hit with one out to put runners on first and second. Azor then hit an RBI single to send Cannon to the plate. After Hahn was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Milanes drove in the second run of the inning when he grounded out to third base.

Army tacked on another run in the top of the fifth inning to extend its lead to 5-2. Johnson singled with one out, moved to third on Price's base hit and scored when Cortes hit a sacrifice fly to center field.

The Black Knights added another run in the sixth as Murtle singled, stole second base, advanced to third on a balk and scored on a wild pitch.

Army capped the scoring in the top of the eighth as the Black Knights pushed across an unearned run to make it 7-2.

Andrew Flaherty (2-0) pitched five scoreless innings of relief to earn the victory in the nightcap.

Stephen Moore (0-2) took the loss for Navy as the right-hander yielded six runs (three earned) on eight hits in seven innings of work. Azor paced the Midshipmen at the plate in the second game, going 3-for-5 with an RBI.

Army returns to action on Wednesday, April 4, when the Black Knights host Manhattan at Doubleday Field. First pitch for the non-league contest is slated for 3 p.m.

Game Notes: Army improves to 101-106 all-time versus Navy ... the Black Knights are 31-9 versus the Midshipmen over the last nine seasons ... Army recorded its second four-game sweep of Navy in Annapolis ... the Black Knights also accomplished the feat during the 2008 season ... Harold Earls has reached base in 23 straight games ... Earls is also riding a nine-game hitting streak ... Andrew Flaherty pitched a career-best five innings en route to his second career win in the nightcap.

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