April 19, 2014
WEST POINT, N.Y. - Senior co-captain April Ortenzo went 3-for-3 with two RBI, to include a solo home run, and scored twice in support of Caroline Smith's five-hit shutout as Army defeated Lafayette 9-0 in five innings in its Patriot League series opener Saturday at the Softball Complex. The Leopards scored six runs in the fourth inning of the nightcap for an 8-2 win to earn a split.
The Black Knights (18-22, 6-5 PL) pounded out 12 hits in the first game victory to stretch their conference win streak to four straight along with snapping a four-game non-conference losing streak.
In the opener, Army jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning with Ortenzo drilling the first pitch from starter Melissa Robinson (3-14) over the left field fence for her second home run of the year for a 1-0 lead.
Kasey McCravey followed with a single up the middle, stole second and scored on Smith’s run-scoring single as Army ripped three straight hits off Robinson with two outs.
Army, scoring multiple runs in all four innings, padded its lead with three runs in the second inning on Alee Rashenskas' infield single scoring Tyler McKinney with Amanda Nguyen racing home on the second baseman’s throwing error on that play. Ortenzo’s single delivered Rashenskas for the third run in that inning as Army pulled out to a 5-0 lead.
RBI singles by pinch hitter Ali Cleinmark and Savanna Aversa in the third inning stretched Army’s lead to 7-0 followed by a two-run fourth keyed by Alyssa Strobehn's run-scoring double and Alex Gaff's RBI single for a 9-0 advantage that would force the game to be called on the mercy rule in the fifth inning.
Smith, who did not issue a walk, scatted three of her five hits over the first four innings and only once during that span allowed a runner into scoring position. The freshman right-hander got into a jam in the top of the fifth after yielding a pair of hits with two outs, but nixed the Leopards’ rally on an infield popup in improving to 12-10 overall with her fourth shutout of the season,along with recording her sixth win in conference play.
Continuining in the circle in the nightcap, Smith (12-11) started off by retiring the side in the top of the first. Army took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of that frame on Ortenzo’s RBI fielder’s choice that chased home Nguyen, who led off with a single.
Lafayette erased Army’s lead with a pair of runs in the top of the second keyed by Janna Orlando’s two-run single as the Leopards collected three hits off Smith.
Army tied the score in the bottom of the second inning when Smith reached on an error and moved into scoring position by another miscue. She then gave way to pinch runner Michaela Hoover, who raced home on Gaff’s single. With one out and bases loaded, starter Lindsey Cherry denied Army the tie breaker with back-to-back force plays at home plate followed by a groundout.
The Leopards, batting around in the fourth, exploded for six runs with a double by Amy Gebhardt and RBI singles by Orlando and Kristen Berger igniting the rally to pull in front 8-2.
Cherry (2-8), who was touched for one earned run on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts, kept Army in check the rest of the way stranding a runner at second base in the fourth inning, two in the fifth and one in the sixth yielding just one hit in each of the final three frames for the complete decision.
Ortenzo drove in three runs and scored twice in the twinbill batting .500 (3-for-6) with McKinney hitting .600 (3-for-5) and Gaff .500 (2-for-4). Gaff drove in a pair of runs and scored once. Army batted .358 and Lafayette hit .245 with the Black Knights recording 19 hits.
The Black Knights and Leopards close out the three-game series with a single game Sunday at 1 p.m.