Army To Face Holy Cross In Patriot League Championship Series

Patrick Mescher

Patrick Mescher

May 16, 2013

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WEST POINT, N.Y. - For the fourth time in five seasons and 10th time in program history, Army will participate in the Patriot League Championship Series as the third-seeded Black Knights are set to travel to Worcester, Mass., to face top-seeded Holy Cross in a best-of-three series to determine the conference champion.

Army (27-21) and Holy Cross (28-23) will play a doubleheader on Sunday (May 19) beginning at 1 p.m., with a single game scheduled for Monday (May 20) at 1 p.m. (if necessary). All games in the Patriot League Championship Series will be nine-inning contests.

Army swept second-seeded Navy in the Patriot League Tournament semifinals last weekend to advance to the conference finals for the eighth time since 2000. Holy Cross, meanwhile, swept fourth-seeded Bucknell in the other semifinal matchup to earn a spot in the PLCS for the third time in four years.

Army and Holy Cross will be meeting in the PLCS for the second straight season. The Black Knights edged the Crusaders in three games to capture last year's conference crown en route to an appearance in the NCAA Charlottesville Regional. It marks just the second time in Patriot League history that the same two schools are meeting in the conference finals in consecutive seasons.

Video streamed broadcasts of this weekend's action will be available via Patriot League All-Access. Army fans who have already subscribed to Knight Vision may watch the games without having to subscribe a second time. Radio broadcasts of this weekend's action can be heard in the Hudson Valley on WALL (AM-1340) and WEOK (AM-1390) with Nikolai Busko on the call.

Live stats for all three games will be offered by logging onto Army's official athletics website (goARMYsports.com) and navigating to the baseball schedule page. Twitter updates will also be provided throughout the weekend from the official handle of Army baseball (@Army_Baseball).

This weekend's matchup marks just the third time that Army and Holy Cross will meet in the Patriot League Tournament. The Black Knights defeated the Crusaders in three games to capture last season's PLCS, while also winning two of three games in the 2009 conference semifinals en route to another league title.

Army, which has compiled a 25-14 all-time mark in the conference tournament, is in search of its seventh Patriot League Championship. The Black Knights captured conference titles in 1997, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2009 and 2012.

The Black Knights, who have won six straight games and 16 of their last 21 contests dating back to April 10, used quality starting pitching against Navy last weekend to nail down a third consecutive trip to the PLCS. Chris Rowley struck out five batters in nine innings to lead Army to a 4-2 victory in the first game, and Alex Robinett fanned three over 6.2 innings of work in the Black Knights' 7-3 triumph in Game 2.

Holy Cross, which boasts a 12-3 mark over its last 15 contests, outslugged Bucknell, 9-6, in the first game of its semifinal series before blanking the Bison, 3-0, to complete the sweep. Patrick Puentes went 5-for-8 with three runs scored and four RBI to help lead the Crusaders last weekend.

Army has been led this season by a veteran pitching staff that ranks second in the Patriot League with a 4.00 earned run average. Rowley (8-3, 2.53 ERA) and Robinett (7-3, 2.84 ERA) anchor the Black Knights' starting rotation. Both hurlers earned All-Patriot League honors with Rowley collecting first-team plaudits for the second straight year and Robinett picking up a second-team certificate. Rowley tops the Patriot League in ERA, victories, strikeouts (68) and innings pitched (81.2). Robinett ranks second in the conference in ERA, victories and opponents' batting average (.240), while listing third in innings pitched (79.1) and sixth in strikeouts (54). Gunnar Carroll (3-4, 5.66 ERA) ranks tied for second in the Patriot League with four saves.

At the plate, Patrick Mescher leads Army and ranks second in the Patriot League with a .344 batting average. Mescher also lists tied for second in the conference with 38 RBI. Alex Jensen, who earned a spot on the All-Patriot League first team, is tied with Mescher for second place in the Patriot League with 38 RBI. Jensen also ranks fourth in the conference in runs scored (38) and ninth in hits (55). Jon Crucitti paces the league in on-base percentage (.456) and walks (34), while ranking second in runs scored (43) and tied for third in stolen bases (15).

Holy Cross is paced by its offense, which leads the Patriot League with a .290 team batting average. The Crusaders top the conference in nearly every offensive statistical category, to include runs scored (309), slugging percentage (.403), on-base percentage (.373), doubles (93), triples (14) and home runs (22).

The Holy Cross pitching staff ranks fifth in the Patriot League with a 5.68 team ERA, but the Crusaders top the conference with 14 saves.

Evan Ocello leads the conference with 64 hits and 44 runs scored, while ranking fourth in batting average (.340), slugging percentage (.495) and on-base percentage (.434). Ocello also lists second in total bases (93), tied for third in stolen bases (15) and tied for sixth in doubles (14). Puentes tops the Patriot League with seven home runs and a .528 slugging percentage, while ranking fifth in RBI (33). Jordan Enos, the Patriot League Player of the Year, leads the conference with 18 doubles, ranks third with a .341 batting average, lists fourth with 36 RBI and is sixth with a .477 slugging percentage.

Holy Cross relief specialist John Colella, who was tabbed Patriot League Pitcher of the Year, leads the conference with eight saves. He closed out both of the Crusaders' victories against Bucknell last weekend. Donny Murray (7-3, 4.26 ERA), who tossed 7.1 shutout innings versus the Bison in the second game of last weekend's semifinal series, leads Holy Cross with seven victories, 57 strikeouts and 67.2 innings pitched. Tom Marra (4-4, 5.53 ERA), Chris Kono (4-1, 5.73 ERA) and Mike Ahmed (3-4, 4.11 ERA) are among the Crusaders' top starting pitchers.

Army and Holy Cross have met 101 times previously in a series that began in 1911. The Black Knights own a 66-33-2 edge in the all-time series, but the Crusaders won three of four games during the regular-season series earlier this spring at West Point to clinch their first-ever Patriot League regular-season title.

The winner of the Patriot League Championship Series will earn the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Regionals, which will be played May 31-June 3 at 16 on-campus sites across the country.

Weekend Schedule
Sunday, May 19

#2 Army vs. #1 Holy Cross, 1 p.m.
#1 Holy Cross vs. #2 Army, 4 p.m.

Monday, May 20 (if necessary)
#2 Army vs. #1 Holy Cross, 1 p.m.

Probable Pitching Matchups
Sunday

RHP Chris Rowley vs. RHP Donny Murray
RHP Alex Robinett vs. RHP Tom Marra

Monday
TBA vs. TBA

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