Stellar Pitching Helps Army Sweep Bucknell

Chris Rowley

Chris Rowley

April 20, 2012

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WEST POINT, N.Y. - Chris Rowley tossed his fourth straight complete-game shutout in the opener, and Nick Dignacco pitched nine strong innings in the nightcap as Army swept a Patriot League doubleheader from Bucknell on a sun-drenched Friday afternoon at Doubleday Field.

Rowley allowed just one hit over seven scoreless frames, and Army scratched out a run in the second inning for a 1-0 victory in the first game. Dignacco then scattered four hits over nine innings in the Black Knights' 2-1 triumph in the second contest.

Army (31-9, 14-0 PL) clinches home field advantage in the first round of next month's Patriot League Tournament following today's action. The Black Knights, who have won 26 of their last 31 contests overall, are five games in front of second-place Holy Cross (9-5 PL) with six league games left on the docket.

Bucknell (19-22, 6-8 PL) remains in third place in the Patriot League standings. The Bison, who are tied in the loss column with Lafayette, are now three games behind Holy Cross.

"Chris and Nick were both aggressive in the strike zone throughout," said Army head coach Joe Sottolano. "They threw the ball very well, and set the tone throughout the day. I thought they both maintained solid control against a good offensive club, and my hat goes off to them.

"We say that pitching and defense win championships, and I was very proud of the way our infielders played today," added Sottolano. "They played extremely well, and that's a credit to (associate head coach) Matt Reid. He does a tremendous job with the infielders, and it showed again today. I also want to tip my hat to (assistant coach) Anthony DeCicco, who continues to do great things with our pitching staff. He has done a phenomenal job with all of our pitchers throughout the season, and that was evident this afternoon.

"I thought we hit the ball really hard in the first game, but just didn't come away with as much as we would have liked," said Sottolano of Army's offensive performance. "It was a tough hitters' day at the ballpark, but we did a decent job of handling some adversity and coming up with clutch hits in key situations in order to score runs. I know we have a lot more in us offensively, and I look forward to getting back on the field and seeing that tomorrow."

Rowley (9-0) was in command of Bucknell from the very beginning, setting down the first nine Bison who came to the plate. The Duluth, Ga., native allowed a double to Bob Donato leading off the top of the fourth, before retiring the final 12 Bucknell batters of the contest.

The junior right-hander, who struck out four and faced just one over the minimum, now holds Academy records for consecutive shutouts (four), consecutive scoreless innings (29) and consecutive innings without allowing an earned run (29).

Rowley outdueled Bucknell ace Dan Weigel (6-3), who allowed just one unearned run on four hits in a complete-game effort of his own. The Bison lefty struck out four and walked one during his outing.

The Black Knights manufactured the only run they would need in the bottom of the second inning. Clayton Mosley singled with one out, and advanced to second base when the Bucknell third baseman threw the ball away. Mosley moved to third base on a balk, and he scored on Andrew Johnson's sacrifice bunt.

Mosley finished 2-for-2 to pace Army's four-hit attack in the opener.

Dignacco was nearly as dominant in the nightcap, allowing just one run on four hits over nine innings. The sophomore left-hander struck out seven batters and only issued one walk.

Bucknell got to Dignacco for a run on two hits in the first inning, but the Sharon, Conn., native faced just three over the minimum over the final eight frames en route to his fourth straight win. The second-year hurler retired 12 in a row at one point, and got a big double play ball in the top of the eighth to snuff out Bucknell's best late-inning rally.

Mark McCants went 1-for-3 with two RBI to lead the Black Knights offensively. Army outhit Bucknell, 7-4, in the nightcap.

The Bison pushed across an early run to take a 1-0 lead. Donato singled leading off the game, moved to second base on Carter Bumgardner's sacrifice bunt, advanced to third on David Duffett's groundout and scored when Travis Clark reached on an infield single.

Army was held in check by Bucknell starter Bryson Hough (2-6) through the first three frames, before scoring the game-tying run in the fourth inning. Daniel Cortes reached on an infield hit, and took second base when Clark's throw sailed wide of first base. Cortes moved to third on a passed ball and scored when McCants lifted a sacrifice fly to center field.

The Black Knights pushed across what proved to be the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth on McCants' RBI single to center field. Zach Price reached on an error by the Bison third baseman to begin the uprising. He moved to second base when Cortes laid down a sacrifice bunt, took third on a failed pickoff attempt and scored when McCants lined a two-out base hit to center field.

Bucknell threatened to tie the game in the top of the eighth as a walk and a single put runners on the corners with one out. Dignacco was able to induce a double play groundball from Donato, though, to end the threat and retire the side. The Bison generated a two-out baserunner in the top of the ninth inning, but Dignacco struck out Rob Krentzman to end the game.

Hough allowed two unearned runs on seven hits over 7.1 innings, but was saddled with the loss for Bucknell. He struck out seven batters and did not yield a base on balls.

Army and Bucknell will conclude their four-game series on Saturday, April 21, with another doubleheader scheduled for 12 p.m. The Black Knights will honor their seniors in a special Senior Day ceremony on the field prior to the first pitch of the opening game.

Game Notes: Army improves to 59-42 all-time versus Bucknell ... the Black Knights wore their white uniforms with black caps today ... Army has won a Patriot League record 14 straight conference games ... the Black Knights have won 15 consecutive regular-season league contests dating back to last season ... Army has swept a school-record nine straight doubleheaders dating back to its four-game sweep of Harvard last month ... the Black Knights have registered an Academy-record nine shutouts this season ... Army has reached the 30-win plateau for just the fifth time in program history ... Chris Rowley extended his own single-season school record with his fifth shutout of the season ... Rowley's last three shutouts have been 1-0 decisions ... Rowley's six career shutouts stand just one shy of the Academy record ... his nine victories this season are one away from matching Army's single-season standard ... Nick Dignacco pitched a career-best nine innings in the nightcap ... Zach Price extended his hitting streak to 12 straight games with hits in both ends of today's doubleheader ... Clayton Mosley equaled his career high with two base hits in the first game.

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