April 15, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. -
Logan Lee fired a one-hit shutout in the first game, and Alex Robinett threw seven scoreless innings in the nightcap as Army completed its fourth straight four-game weekend sweep by taking both games of a Patriot League doubleheader from Lafayette on Sunday afternoon at Doubleday Field.
Lee came within two outs of pitching the first perfect game in Academy history, and Army's bats came to life early and often as the Black Knights cruised to an 8-0 victory in the opener. Robinett then limited Lafayette to just four hits over seven innings en route to a 6-0 Army win in the series finale.
Kevin McKague led Army offensively during today's sweep, going 5-for-8 with four runs batted in and two runs scored. Alex Jensen finished the doubleheader with four hits and two runs scored as the Black Knights outhit the Leopards 25-6 over the two games.
Army (28-9, 12-0 PL) clinched a spot in next month's Patriot League Tournament following this weekend's action. The Black Knights, who have won 23 of their last 28 games, enjoy a four-game lead over Holy Cross (8-4 PL) in the conference standings with two league weekends remaining on the schedule. Army, which has swept three consecutive Patriot League weekends for the first time since joining the conference in 1993, can finish no lower than third in the final standings.
Lafayette (10-26-1, 4-8 PL) falls into sole possession of fourth place in the Patriot League standings following today's twinbill. The Leopards, who are two games behind Bucknell for third place and one game in front of both Lehigh and Navy for fourth, have lost five in a row and nine of their last 11 games.
The Black Knights have swept eight straight doubleheaders dating back to their four-game sweep of Harvard last month. Army blanked Lafayette three times in four games this weekend and outscored the Leopards, 19-2, over the course of the weekend. With two more shutout victories today, the Black Knights have registered an Academy-record eight blankings in 2012. The previous single-season record of seven shutouts was established in 2004 and equaled in 2005.
"I thought we were strong and consistent in all three areas today," said Army head coach Joe Sottolano. "We got tremendous starting pitching from both Logan and Alex, we played well defensively and we swung the bats throughout both games. It was a well-played doubleheader."
The 13th-year Black Knight mentor is pleased with where his team stands after the first three weekends of Patriot League play, but believes that there is still work to be done.
"We have a lot of confidence in all three phases of the game right now, but I still think there are a couple of areas where we can become a little bit more consistent, and we will get there," said Sottolano. "We challenged the guys last night at the end of the day, and they really stepped up and responded. I thought we did a lot of really good things today, but we will continue to get better."
Lee (4-1) was masterful throughout his start, retiring the first 19 Lafayette batters of the game. He struck out four, did not walk a batter and did not allow a hit until there was one out in the top of the seventh. The senior lefty from Laguna Niguel, Calif., carried a perfect game into the seventh inning, but Thomas Dunleavy broke up that bid when he reached on an error. Lee's no-hitter remained intact until Kevin Casey grounded a single through the left side of the infield. With runners on first and second, Lee finished off his second shutout of the season by retiring Bobby Fargnoli and Tim Lazor.
"It was a lot of fun out there today, especially with the way the defense played behind me," said Lee. "I knew I had the perfect game going the entire time, and I was a little bit nervous when I went out there for the seventh inning. Overall, I was just glad to go out there and chalk up a good outing. I've been working hard the last couple of weeks, and it was nice to put it all together today."
Army jumped all over Lafayette in the opener, scoring seven runs over the first three innings to provide Lee with all of the run support he would need. McKague and Daniel Cortes were both 3-for-4 in the contest, while Harold Earls went 2-for-3 with two runs batted in.
The Black Knights took an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, scoring three runs on four hits. Cortes, McKague and Mark McCants hit consecutive one-out singles to plate the first run, and Earls' two-run double down the right field line scored two more.
Army scored a pair of runs on three hits in the second inning to extend its advantage to 5-0. J.T. Watkins singled with one out, moved to second on Cortes' base hit and scored on McKague's RBI single to left center field. Cortes, who moved to second base on McKague's base hit, advanced to third base on a wild pitch and scored when the Lafayette catcher's throw sailed down the left field line.
Army engineered a two-out rally in the bottom of the third, scoring a pair of runs on four hits to open up a 7-0 cushion. Jensen drew a two-out walk, Matthew Carter singled through the left side of the infield and Watkins walked to load the bases for Zach Price, who smacked a two-run single up the middle.
The Black Knights manufactured their eighth run in the fifth inning to cap the scoring. Jensen singled leading off the inning, moved to second base on Carter's sacrifice bunt, took third on a wild pitch and scored when he and Price executed a double steal.
Lafayette starter Derek Gussaroff (4-4) was touched for seven runs (six earned) on nine hits over 2.2 innings and was saddled with the loss.
The second game mirrored the first contest in that Army received seven strong innings from its starter and that the Black Knights pushed across several early runs.
Robinett (3-1) struck out five and yielded just four hits and one walk in one of his best outings of the season. The freshman right-hander faced only five over the minimum during his stint on the mount, and allowed just three Leopards to reach second base. Manny Fernandez pitched a perfect eighth inning and McKague struck out the side in the ninth to nail down the victory.
McKague sparked the Army offense in the nightcap, going 2-for-4 with three RBI. His two-run homer in the third inning gave the Black Knights all the run support they would need. Jensen finished 3-for-4 in the second game, while Price and Andrew Johnson each recorded two hits apiece.
After two scoreless frames, Army broke on top 2-0 in the bottom of the third on McKague's line drive home run. Johnson began the inning with a leadoff single. Then, after Price and Cortes were retired, McKague launched his fourth homer of the season over the fence in left field.
The Black Knights padded their lead in the fourth inning, scoring four runs on five hits to open up a 6-0 advantage. Earls ignited the uprising with a leadoff single to right field. After Jensen struck out, Earls advanced to second base on Carter's base hit and scored on Johnson's RBI single. Carter, who moved all the way to third base on Johnson's hit, scored on Price's run-scoring single to center field. Cortes followed with a sacrifice fly to left field, plating Johnson from third base. Price, who took third on Cortes' fly ball, scored on McKague's base hit.
Connor Ortolf (1-1) surrendered five runs on seven hits in 3.1 innings of work and took the loss for Lafayette in the nightcap. Casey and Brad Hopek both went 2-for-4 to pace the Leopards offensively.
Army continues its 10-game homestand on Wednesday, April 18, with a non-league contest versus St. Peter's First pitch from Doubleday Field is set for 3:30 p.m.
Game Notes: Army improves to 72-55-2 all-time versus Lafayette ... the Black Knights have won nine straight games versus the Leopards dating back to last season ... Army wore its white pinstripe uniforms with black caps today ... at 12-0, Army is off to its best Patriot League start since joining the conference in 1993 ... Zach Price extended his hitting streak to nine straight games with hits in both ends of today's doubleheader ... Price and Kevin McKague are tied for the team lead with 16 multiple-hit games apiece ... Price and Harold Earls have both reached base safely in nine consecutive games ... Price's stolen base in the first game moves him into a tie for eighth place on Army's all-time stolen bases list with 46 career steals ... McKague leads Army with eight multiple-RBI games this season ... with five hits in today's doubleheader, McKague passed Milan Dinga (USMA '07) for first place on Army's all-time hits list (260) ... McKague also moved into a tie for fourth place on the Academy's all-time home runs list (23) ... Alex Robinett equaled his career high with seven innings pitched in the nightcap ... Daniel Cortes matched his career best with three base hits in the opener ... Alex Jensen tied his career high with two runs scored in the first game.