No. 30 Army Closes Out Patriot League Regular Season At Holy Cross

Harold Earls

Harold Earls

April 27, 2012

WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Army baseball team returns to action this weekend when the Black Knights travel to Worcester, Mass., to face Holy Cross in a four-game Patriot League series.

The four-game set will get under way on Saturday, April 28, with a doubleheader scheduled for 2 p.m. The series will conclude on Sunday, April 29, with another doubleheader set for 12 p.m.

Live stats for each game will be available via GameTracker by logging onto Army's official athletics website (www.goARMYsports.com) and navigating to the baseball schedule page. In-game Twitter updates will be offered throughout the weekend via Army's official Twitter handle (@ArmyAthletics). The athletic communications staff at Holy Cross will also provide in-game blogs on both Saturday and Sunday at www.goholycross.com.

Army (33-10, 16-0 PL) had won nine straight games before dropping a 6-3 decision to Marist in the seventh annual WRWD Hudson Valley Baseball Classic on Wednesday evening. The Black Knights, who have won 28 of their last 34 contests, have already clinched their sixth Patriot League regular-season title in nine years. Army is now closing in on the first 40-win season in program history.

The Black Knights are also looking to make Patriot League history as the first team to go undefeated through the conference schedule. No team has won more than 17 league games since the conference adopted the current 20-game schedule in 1996.

Holy Cross (27-18, 11-5 PL) has won nine of its last 12 games, and the Crusaders are locked into second place in the conference standings. Holy Cross will be the No. 2 seed in next month's conference tournament, no matter what happens this weekend.

Army's stellar pitching has set the tone for the Black Knights all season long. During last weekend's four-game sweep of Bucknell, Army allowed just two runs over 38 innings. In fact, over the last two league weekends, Army has yielded a mere four runs over 70 innings in sweeping both Lafayette and Bucknell.

The Black Knights' pitching staff ranks 26th nationally with a 3.16 earned run average. Ten Army pitchers boast earned run averages below 4.00, including all four of the Black Knights' weekend starters.

Junior RHP Chris Rowley (9-0, 0.95 ERA) headlines that contingent as the third-year hurler leads the nation in victories and ranks second in the country in both earned run average and hits allowed per nine innings (4.59).

Rowley has already set Academy single-season records for shutouts (five), consecutive shutouts (four), consecutive scoreless innings (29) and consecutive innings without giving up an earned run (29). He is rapidly approaching Army's single-season wins record (10).

Senior LHP Logan Lee (5-1, 3.53 ERA), sophomore LHP Nick Dignacco (5-2, 3.53 ERA) and freshman RHP Alex Robinett (3-1, 2.33 ERA) have been outstanding as starters this season as well. Lee, who has earned Patriot League Pitcher of the Week honors each of the last two weeks, threw the fourth no-hitter in Academy history last weekend versus Bucknell.

Army's bullpen has posted impressive numbers this season as well. Senior RHP Kevin McKague leads the contingent with a 1.46 earned run average and five saves in 12.1 innings over 11 appearances. Senior RHP Manny Fernanez (4-0, 1.71 ERA) and sophomore RHP Gunnar Carroll (1-0, 2.82 ERA, four saves) have also been consistent contributors.

McKague, who doubles as Army's starting first baseman, has sparked the Black Knights' offense this season. He leads the team with a .382 batting average, 12 doubles, four home runs, 36 runs batted in and a .539 slugging percentage. He also leads the team with a .487 on-base-percentage, while listing third with 28 runs scored, tied for third with 20 walks and fourth with nine stolen bases.

Freshman INF Harold Earls ranks second on the team with a .351 batting average. The first-year third baseman also leads Army with 18 stolen bases and ranks among the team leaders with 21 runs scored, five doubles, 20 walks and 18 RBI.

Senior OF Cody Murtle boasts some of the Black Knights' top power numbers. He enters this weekend's action tied with McKague for the team lead with 36 runs batted in, while listing second on the club with eight doubles and three home runs.

Senior INF Zach Price has served as the catalyst at the top of Army's potent offense. The Black Knights' starting second baseman leads the team with 41 runs scored and three triples, lists second with 13 stolen bases and 23 walks and ranks third with a .331 batting average and a .437 on-base percentage.

Senior C J.T. Watkins, meanwhile, is tied with Murtle for second on the team with three home runs, lists second with a .483 slugging percentage and ranks third with seven doubles.

Holy Cross is also led by a dominant pitching staff that shows a 4.39 earned run average. The Crusaders' contingent features a strong starting rotation and an excellent closer.

Senior LHP Nate Koneski paces Holy Cross' rotation, leading the squad with 61 strikeouts in 52 innings over a team-best nine starts. He brings a 5-2 record and a 2.77 earned run average into this weekend's series.

Junior RHP Tommy Marra (4-3, 3.20 ERA), freshman RHP Donny Murray (3-0, 3.44 ERA) and senior RHP Matt Croglio (3-3, 5.09 ERA) round out a formidable Holy Cross starting rotation.

Junior RHP John Colella, who has emerged as one of the top closers in the Patriot League, leads the Crusaders with a 2.22 earned run average and nine saves. He has recorded 42 strikeouts in 44.2 innings of work over a team-high 22 appearances this spring.

Junior OF Patrick Puentes leads a Holy Cross offense that shows a .276 team batting average and scores nearly 5.4 runs per game. Puentes is batting a team-best .357 with six doubles, two home runs and 20 RBI. He leads the club with a .464 on-base percentage and lists third on the squad with a .452 slugging percentage.

Senior OF Chris Sintetos leads the Crusaders with 28 runs batted in, and lists tied with sophomore OF Brandon Cipolla (.321, eight doubles) for second on the team with three home runs. Junior 1B/C Jordan Enos tops Holy Cross with 11 doubles and lists among the team leaders with a .313 batting average and 20 RBI.

Sophomore INF Mike Ahmed has supplied some of the most prolific power numbers on the team with five home runs, three triples and 10 doubles. His .479 slugging percentage and 28 walks lead the Crusaders.

Army and Holy Cross have met 90 times previously in a series that began in 1911. The Black Knights hold a commanding 61-27-2 lead in the all-time series following last year's four-game sweep of the Crusaders at West Point. Army has won seven of the last eight meetings and nine of 11 dating back to the 2009 Patriot League Tournament.

Following this weekend's series at Holy Cross, Army will return to the friendly confines of Doubleday Field to host La Salle on Tuesday, May 1. The non-conference matchup is set to get under way beginning at 3:30 p.m.

Weekend Schedule
Saturday, April 28

Army vs. Holy Cross, 2 p.m.
Army vs. Holy Cross, 4:30 p.m.

Sunday, April 29
Army vs. Holy Cross, 12 p.m.
Army vs. Holy Cross, 2:30 p.m.

Probable Pitching Matchups
Saturday

RHP Chris Rowley vs. RHP Tommy Marra
TBA vs. RHP Donny Murray

Sunday
LHP Logan Lee vs. LHP Nate Koneski
TBA vs. RHP Matt Croglio

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