Offense Explodes As Army Sweeps Bloomfield

Dakari Cooke

Dakari Cooke

May 5, 2012

Game One Box Score Get Acrobat Reader

Game Two Box Score Get Acrobat Reader

WEST POINT, N.Y. - Kevin McKague combined to go 5-for-7 with five runs batted in and three runs scored, and Dakari Cooke went 5-for-6 with three RBI and three runs scored as the Army baseball team swept a non-conference doubleheader from Bloomfield on an overcast Saturday afternoon at Doubleday Field.

Cooke went 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles, two runs scored and two RBI to lead Army (37-12) to an 11-5 victory in the opening game. McKague, meanwhile, powered the Black Knights to a 7-1 win in the nightcap, going 2-for-3 with a home run, a double and two runs batted in.

McKague was 3-for-4 with three RBI in the opener as Army broke free from a 4-all deadlock by scoring seven runs over its final three times at bat. Zach Price and Daniel Cortes combined to go 4-for-9 with five runs scored in that contest as both players collected two hits apiece.

Nick Dignacco (7-2) allowed just one run on three hits over four innings of relief to pick up his sixth straight victory. The sophomore left-hander struck out three and did not yield a walk.

Harold Earls registered three hits in the nightcap, going 3-for-4 with a double as Army wrapped up its 13th doubleheader sweep of the season. The Black Knights took a 2-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back as Logan Lee (6-2) limited Bloomfield to four hits over five scoreless innings. The senior lefty struck out five and did not issue a walk en route to the win.

Gunnar Carroll worked three scoreless frames to nail down his team-leading sixth save of the season. He allowed just one base hit, while striking out two.

Bloomfield (21-19) was led by Rafael Medina, who combined to go 4-for-7 with two doubles and three RBI in the twinbill. Jonattan Fernandez collected two hits in both games and finished the doubleheader 4-for-9.

"Bloomfield is definitely one of the stronger offensive teams that we've seen in a while," said Army head coach Joe Sottolano. "They're physical, they're big, they're athletic and they can run. They brought a variety of things to the table today, which forced us to perform.

"Our guys did a good job of answering back when we fell behind in the first game, and I thought our offensive approach was consistent throughout the doubleheader," added Sottolano. "We certainly had a nice day offensively, and we made some good adjustments on the mound to silence them after the first couple of innings."

The Deacons took a 1-0 lead in the first inning of the opener on Medina's RBI single. Emilio Fernandez doubled into the gap in left center field, and he scored from second base when Medina grounded a base hit through the right side of the infield.

Army responded with two runs in the bottom of the second inning to move in front, 2-1. Cody Murtle drew a leadoff walk, stole second base and scored when Cooke hammered an RBI double down the left field line. Cooke then scored the go-ahead run on Alex Jensen's run-scoring single to right center field.

Bloomfield answered Army's rally in the top of the third, scoring three runs on three hits and one Army error to assume a 4-2 advantage. Medina's RBI double tied the game, and Jason Luzzi's two-run single gave the Deacons their largest lead of the contest.

The Black Knights fought back in the home half of the third inning, plating a pair of runs to tie the score at 4-all. Price ignited the uprising by blasting a leadoff double into the gap in left center field. Then, after Cortes reached on an infield hit, McKague drove an RBI single up the middle to score Price from third base. Mark McCants followed with a sacrifice fly to plate Cortes with the second run of the inning.

Army moved in front for good in the sixth inning as the Black Knights pushed across two runs on three hits. Cody Murtle led off the frame by ripping a home run over the fence in left field. The solo shot, Murtle's fourth of the season, gave Army a 5-4 lead. After Earls struck out, J.T. Watkins laced a double to right center and later scored on Cooke's RBI single to left center.

Army tacked on an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh inning, before blowing the game open with four runs in the eighth. The Black Knights' eighth-inning rally was particularly impressive because all four runs were scored with two outs. Cooke hit a one-out single and stole second base. Then, after Jensen flew out for the second out of the inning, Price grounded an RBI single through the left side of the infield. Cortes followed with a base hit to put two runners on base for McKague, who delivered a two-run single to left field. McKague, who advanced to second on the throw, scored on McCants' base hit up the middle.

Bloomfield manufactured a run in the top of the ninth to round out the scoring. Daniel Arango singled leading off the frame, stole second base and scored on Emilio Fernandez' RBI single down the right field line.

John Vilichka (1-3) took the loss for the Deacons after allowing seven runs (six earned) on nine hits over three innings of relief.

Army outhit Bloomfield, 15-10, en route to the victory in the first game.

The Black Knights jumped on top, 2-0, in the first inning of the nightcap. McKague got the rally going by smacking a two-out double down the left field line. Watkins followed with a double of his own, hammering a pitch down the right field line to drive home McKague. Murtle capped the two-out uprising by lining an RBI single to center field.

Army added a run in the fourth inning to extend its lead to 3-0. Earls singled leading off the frame, moved to second base on a wild pitch and stole third. He then scampered home when Cooke drove him in.

The Black Knights made it 4-0 in the bottom of the fifth on McKague's home run. The solo homer, which was McKague's team-leading fifth of the season, was crushed to straightaway left field.

Bloomfield got one run back in the top of the sixth on Medina's RBI double. Jonattan Fernandez led off the inning with a base hit, moved to second base on a wild pitch, stole third and scored when Medina lined a double to right center field.

Army put the game out of reach in the bottom of the seventh, pushing across three runs on two hits and one Bloomfield error. Cooke singled to begin the inning and moved to second base when Jensen was hit by a pitch. Price followed with an RBI single up the middle. Then, after Cortes was walked to load the bases, McKague and Watkins hit consecutive sacrifice flies.

The run support was more than enough for Lee, who allowed only four base hits and faced just three over the minimum through five strong innings. Manny Fernandez allowed Bloomfield's lone run in the sixth, before Carroll entered the game and limited the Deacons to one single over three scoreless frames.

Bloomfield starter Eric Kamp (2-4) was saddled with the loss as the lefty gave up seven runs on 10 hits in six innings. David Martinez came out of the bullpen for the Deacons and tossed two perfect innings of relief.

The Black Knights held a 10-7 edge in hits in the nightcap, outhitting Bloomfield 22-17 in the doubleheader.

Army returns to action on Saturday, May 12, when the top-seeded Black Knights host fourth-seeded Lafayette in the Patriot League Tournament semifinals. The best-of-three series will get under way with a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 12 p.m. The three-game set will conclude on Sunday, May 13, if necessary. Sunday's single game is scheduled for 1 p.m.

Game Notes: Army moves to 2-0 all-time versus Bloomfield ... the Black Knights wore their white uniforms with black caps for both games of today's doubleheader ... Army's 37 victories this season are tied for the second most in team history, just two shy of equaling the program record ... the Black Knights' 13 doubleheader sweeps this season are an Academy record ... Dakari Cooke made his first appearance since starting at Siena on April 10 ... he established career highs with four hits, two doubles, two runs scored and two RBI in the opener ... his double in the second inning marked his first career extra-base hit ... Kevin McKague moved into sole possession of fourth place on Army's all-time home runs list (24) ... Zach Price moved into second place on the Black Knights' career runs scored ledger (167) ... Gunnar Carroll moved into a tie for sixth place on Army's single-season saves list (six) ... Carroll's eight career saves rank seventh on the Academy's all-time list ... Nick Dignacco moved into a tie for eighth place on Army's single-season wins ledger (seven) ... Manny Fernandez made his team-leading 18th appearance of the season in the nightcap ... Chris Rowley had won 10 straight starts before receiving a no-decision in the opener ... Army pitching yielded just one walk in 18 innings today.

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