Patriot League Baseball Weekly Release (3.12.12)

Army catcher J.T. Watkins

March 12, 2012

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CENTER VALLEY, Pa. -- Army senior catcher J.T. Watkins had a huge weekend for the Black Knights, driving in seven runs and scoring five in a three-game sweep of Sacred Heart.

Watkins was named the Patriot League Player of the Week for his performance, which included a .538 batting average (7-for-13), two doubles and two homers. He hit both homers in the series opener, helping Army to a 6-2 win with three hits and five RBIs.

He went 1-for-4 with two runs scored in the second game of the series, and in the finale, he was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, including the go-ahead two-run double in the fifth.

Watkins was joined on the list of weekly award winners by his teammate Daniel Cortes, who won the Rookie of the Week award. He went 5-for-11 in the series with six runs scored, two walks and an RBI.

Holy Cross junior pitcher John Colella was named the Patriot League Pitcher of the Week after a trio of strong outings for the Crusaders. He pitched in four games total, giving up three runs in 9⅓ innings. He recorded two saves and a win, while striking out 10.

Colella went 3⅔ innings for a save in the Crusaders' 5-1 win over Charlotte on Tuesday, and on Friday, he posted a two-inning save in a 3-0 win at Winthrop. He gave up a run on Sunday, but he got the win, pitching three innings in a 4-3 victory at Winthrop.

Army, Bucknell, Lafayette and Navy will compete in several games in Florida this week, while Holy Cross will play three games in Queens, N.Y. Lehigh will play at home for the first time this season. The Patriot League season will begin on March 31 with Army at Navy, Lafayette at Lehigh and Holy Cross at Bucknell.

Patriot League Notebook

Strong starts for starting pitchers
Bucknell sophomore pitcher Dan Weigel has won all four of his starts in 2012, posting a 2.12 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 29⅔ innings. He's held opponents to a .211 batting average.

And he's not the only Patriot League pitcher off to a good start this season.

Army junior Chris Rowley, twice a Patriot League Pitcher of the Week, has started 3-0 in four starts with a 1.40 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 25⅔ innings.

Navy junior Ben Nelson has a Patriot League-best 27 strikeouts, going 1-0 in four appearances this season. He has a 3.70 ERA in 24⅓ innings for the Mids.

Holy Cross senior Nate Koneski also has had a strong start, striking out 22 batters and limiting opponents to a .180 batting average in 17⅓ innings. He has a 3.12 ERA in his three appearances.

McKague climbs RBI list
Army senior Kevin McKague continued to add to his career RBI total as the Black Knights swept a three-game series against Sacred Heart over the weekend. His two RBIs pushed his career total 147, which ranks seventh all-time in the Patriot League. McKague is two away from moving into sixth place and 11 away from jumping into second place. Army's Clint Moore owns the all-time RBI record with 185 runs driven in from 2008-11.

Price named Lowe's Senior C.L.A.S.S. candidate
Army senior infielder Zach Price was one of 30 NCAA baseball student-athletes selected as candidates for the 2012 Lowe's Senior C.L.A.S.S. Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence -- community, classroom, character and competition.

An acronym for "Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School," the Lowe's Senior C.L.A.S.S. Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. Lowe's, an official Corporate Partner of the NCAA, will announce the winner during the 2012 NCAA College World Series, which will be held June 15-26 in Omaha. The 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, Division I head coaches and fans who will select one finalist.

Kent closes the door for Lehigh
Lehigh senior Cory Kent continues to climb the Patriot League's all-time career saves list, picking up his 19th and 20th career saves in the Mountain Hawks' first two wins of the 2012 season. Kent is currently in third place behind Army's Milan Dinga, who had 27 saves from 2004 to 2007, and Army senior Kevin McKague, who has 23 saves. McKague recorded his first save of the 2012 season over the weekend.

Bison, Mids tie for first in League preseason poll
Bucknell and Navy tied atop the 2012 Patriot League Preseason Baseball poll released by the Patriot League on Feb. 15. Both the Mids and the Bison received 39 points in the poll voted on by the League's coaches and sports information directors. Army narrowly missed being first, as well, earning 38 points, creating a log-jam at the top of the poll featuring the last three Patriot League Champions.

Defending champion Navy earned five first-place votes, while 2010 champion Bucknell picked up four. Army, which won the 2009 championship, had one first-place vote and Holy Cross nabbed a pair of first-place votes to collect 29 points and finish fourth. Lafayette (17) and Lehigh (16) rounded out the poll.
Bucknell coach Gene Depew to retire after season
Gene Depew, a 1971 Bucknell graduate who has coached at his alma mater for more than 40 years, including the last 31 as head baseball coach, has announced his retirement following the 2012 season. One of the longest-tenured coaches in Bucknell history in any sport, Depew enters his final season with 570 victories, more than five times the amount of any other Bison baseball coach. Only the fourth head baseball coach at Bucknell since World War II, Depew has been so well-respected by those that played under his tutelage that in 2003 the Bucknell varsity baseball field was renamed Eugene B. Depew Field in his honor.

The Bison have been especially successful over the last 16 years, finishing either first or second in the Patriot League eight times, including six regular-season titles and five Patriot League Tournament crowns. Depew has guided Bucknell to five NCAA Tournament appearances over that span.

On an individual level, Depew has won the Patriot League Coach of the Year award four times (1993, 1996, 2003, 2009), has had four Patriot League Pitchers of the Year, four Players of the Year and two Rookies of the Year. Depew has also led 65 student-athletes to 101 Patriot League first- and second-team accolades.

NCBWA Stopper of the Year watch list
Three Patriot League pitchers were named to initial watch list of the eighth annual National College Baseball Writers Association's (NCBWA) Presason Stopper of the Year Award.

Army's Kevin McKague, Bucknell's Alex Cillo and Navy's Joel Rinehart -- all three are right-handed hurlers -- were among 45 players named to the initial watch list for the award that is presented to the top relief pitcher in Division I.

Rinehart recorded the final out in the Mids' 2011 Patriot League Championship series against Army, striking out three in 1⅔ innings of work to collect his sixth save of the season and preserve the 5-3 win for Navy. Rinehart, as a sophomore, finished with an ERA of 1.81 in 23 appearances. He enters the 2012 season third on Navy's all-time saves list with nine. He allowed just one run while striking out 20 in his final nine appearances (17 innings).

McKague is a senior at Army who is looking to return to the Black Knights' bullpen after missing the majority of the 2011 season due to injury. He was very successful in 2010, converting all 13 of his save opportunities and finishing with a 1.33 ERA. The 13 saves were school and Patriot League single-season records. With 22 career saves, he is just five away from tying the League recorder holder, Army's Milan Dinga, who had 27 saves from 2004-07.

Cillo went 4-1 with a 1.96 ERA in 46 innings last season, all in relief. He allowed just two earned runs in his final 16 appearances (43⅓ innings) and posted a 24-inning streak of not allowing an earned run, helping his ERA against Patriot League opponents round out at 0.56.

Nominations for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award were made by baseball sports information/media relations contacts. The initial list will be updated with a mid-season release the week of April 16, including the national saves leaders. At the conclusion of the regular season, the Division I national saves leader and four other relief pitching standouts will be selected as finalists and released Wednesday, June 6, prior to start of NCAA Super Regional tournament competition.

Patriot League Baseball Weekly Awards

 Sr., C, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Watkins was a key bat in Army's lineup as the Black Knights swept Sacred Heart in a three-game series over the weekend. Watkins went 7-for-13 (.538) with two doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and five runs scored. He drove in five runs in a 6-2 win on Saturday and pushed across another two runs in Sunday's 5-2 win. This is the first weekly award for Watkins, who is batting .354 on the season with 13 RBIs and 10 runs scored. 

 Jr., P, Herndon, Va.
Colella pitched in four games during the Crusaders' trip south, collecting two saves, a win and 10 strikeouts. He recorded the save in a Holy Cross 5-1 win over Charlotte on Tuesday, pitching 3⅔ innings of scoreless ball, allowing just one hit and striking out three. On Friday, he pitched two scoreless innings to close out a 3-0 win over Winthrop, and on Sunday, he pitched three innings in a 4-3 win over Winthrop, allowing one run on a hit and a walk. He struck out three and recorded the win. For the week, he had a 2.89 ERA in 9⅓ innings of work, holding opponents to .179 batting average. This is his first weekly award

 Fr., OF, Altamonte, Fla.
Cortes went 5-for-11 (.455) with six runs scored, two walks and an RBI in Army's three-game sweep of Sacred Heart. Cortes went 1-for-3 with two runs scored in the series opener, and followed that up with a 2-for-4, three-run performance in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader. He closed the series on Sunday, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.

 Jr., P, Duluth, Ga.
Rowley allowed one run over six innings in a 6-2 win against Sacred Heart on Saturday. Rowley struck out five, allowed six hits and a walk, while picking up his third win of the season.

DAN WEIGEL, BUCKNELL So., P, Lancaster, Pa.
Weigel allowed two runs -- one earned -- over seven innings in an 18-3 win over Georgetown Sunday. He struck out two, while allowing seven hits and a walk in his fourth win of the season.

Gussaroff made two appearances last week for the Leopards, starting in the Leopards 6-3 win over Rider on Tuesday and pitching the final three innings of the  Leopards' 3-3 stalemate against Fairleigh Dickinson. He got the win against Rider, striking out two over three innings. Against Fairleigh Dickinson, Gussaroff struck out six and gave up no hits or walks.

Runyan went 3-for-5 with a home run, four RBIs and three runs scored in Bucknell's 18-3 win over Georgetown. He's now hitting .412 on the season and seven of his 14 hits are for extra bases.

CHANCE JONES, NAVY So., DH/C, St. George, Utah
Jones went 7-for-16 (.438) in four games last week with six RBIs and four runs scored. He drove in two runs against No. 25 Maryland on Wednesday, and he went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored in the Mids' 6-1 win over UMBC Sunday. He was a homer short of the cycle in the win.