April 4, 2011
Center Valley, Pa. - Emotions will be running high on the second weekend of the Patriot League baseball schedule with two intense rivalries and a rematch of the 2010 Championship series on the docket.
Patriot League Baseball Release - 4.4.11
The weekend doubleheaders feature Navy at Army and Lehigh at Lafayette in matchups of the top rivalries in the Patriot League, as well as Bucknell returning to the site of its 2010 Patriot League Championship at Holy Cross.
In addition to a rivalry matchup, the Mids and Black Knights will be playing to maintain their status in the Patriot League standings. Army opened its League season with a four-game sweep of Holy Cross at home, while Navy won three of four at Lehigh over the weekend. The Mids will also try to end years of frustration against the Black Knights, who have won seven straight series and 24 of the past 29 games between the academies dating back to 2004.
Lehigh makes the short trip over to rival Lafayette, with the Mountain Hawks trying to get back on their feet and Leopards hoping to maintain momentum. Lehigh had won seven straight games before dropping the final three to Navy, while Lafayette has won four of five after taking three of four at Bucknell over the weekend.
In a rematch of the 2010 Patriot League Championship series, Bucknell and Holy Cross will each try to recover from a rough opening weekend. While the Crusaders won three of four games in last year's regular-season series, the Bison claimed the Patriot League title by sweeping a doubleheader over Holy Cross on May 22 after the Crusaders won the first game of the series.
Each team will play at least one non-League game in the middle of the week, with Lehigh hosting Delaware in the Liberty Bell Classic on Tuesday.
Patriot League Weekly Awards (March 28-April 3)
Player of the Week
A.J. MILLER, LAFAYETTE Sr., C/1B/DH, Manasquan, N.J.
Miller's outstanding season carried over to Patriot League play, as the League's leading hitter came through again as Lafayette won three of four games at Bucknell to open its League slate. Miller went 8-for-15 in the series with a pair of home runs, five RBIs and four runs scored. He started off the weekend by going 3-for-4 with a run and RBI in Lafayette's 11-5 victory, and helped the Leopards claim the series with another 3-for-4 day that included a home run, two RBIs and two runs scored in a 6-3 victory in Sunday's finale. Miller batted .391 in all of Lafayette's games last week, and leads the Patriot League in batting average (.419), on-base percentage (.500) and slugging percentage (.767) for the season. Miller earns his first Player of the Week award of the season, and second of his career after also receiving the honor after the opening weekend of League play in 2010.
Pitcher of the Week
SCOTT LUCADO, ARMY Jr., P, Austin, Texas
Lucado set the tone for Army's four-game sweep of Holy Cross by allowing one run on two hits in five innings of work to pick up the victory in a 2-1 win to open the series. He did not walk a batter and struck out four to pick up his first career victory, while the inning and strikeout totals also marked career highs. Lucado receives the Pitcher of the Week award for the first time.
Rookie of the Week
CONNOR ORTOLF, LAFAYETTE Fr., P, Ocean City, N.J.
Ortolf did not allow a hit in four scoreless innings to earn his first collegiate win in Lafayette's 3-1, 13-inning triumph at NJIT on Wednesday. He pitched all of the extra-inning frames to lead the Leopards to the win. He also appeared once against Bucknell over the weekend, allowing two runs in 1.2 innings. Ortolf earns his first Rookie of the Week award.
JEFF BLAND, NAVY Sr., C, Basking Ridge, N.J.
Bland went 10-for-18 with a home run and five RBIs last week, and posted his second 5-for-5 game of the year.
BEN KOENIGSFELD, ARMY Sr., OF/P, New Port Richey, Fla.
Koenigsfeld batted 7-for-15 with a home run, five RBIs and five runs scored in Army's weekend sweep of Holy Cross, and also pitched two innings to save the 2-1 victory to open the series.
JOSH OLSON, HOLY CROSS So., DH, Woodbury, Minn.
Olson went 10-for-23 with two home runs, six RBIs and seven runs scored in six games for Holy Cross last week.
Patriot League Notebook
Army Off to Fastest Start in 15 Years
Army has been as successful as any program in Patriot League history, tying for the most League titles with five and claiming at least a share of the regular-season crown for three straight years and five of the past seven seasons. The Black Knights have seven regular-season titles overall, but never started as well in any of those seasons as they have in 2011. Army swept Holy Cross over the weekend to open League play at 4-0 for the first time since the 1996 team began the year at 6-0. The Black Knights notched a four-game sweep over the Crusaders for the first time since 2006.
Mids, Leopards Defy Preseason Picks on Opening Weekend
Maybe even more surprising than Army's 4-0 start were the weekend performances by Navy and Lafayette. The Mids and Leopards did not make the Patriot League Tournament last year and were picked fifth and sixth, respectively, in the preseason poll, but looked very much like contenders in the beginning of Patriot League action. Navy won the final three games at Lehigh to take the weekend series from the Mountain Hawks, while Lafayette posted a Sunday sweep to win three of four at defending champion Bucknell. Navy is trying to make it back to the Patriot League Tournament for the first time since 2008, while Lafayette has gone just once in three years since winning the League title in 2007.
Patriot League Teams Complete Strong Month of March
Patriot League teams completed non-League play in March with a 58-46-1 record, an outstanding turnaround after a 7-23 mark in February. League squads are now just four games under .500 for the season, with a chance to push past the mark with nine non-League games on the slate on Tuesday and Wednesday. Lehigh hosts Delaware in the Liberty Bell Classic semifinals on Tuesday, while the Mountain Hawks, Lafayette and Holy Cross will each play a pair of non-League contests.
Every Patriot League team is at or above .500 on its home field, as the five squads who have played home games hold a combined 33-16 record on their own turf. Even after losing three games over the weekend, Lehigh has a 10-5 mark at home while Navy is 9-4, Army comes in at 6-2 and Holy Cross is 4-1. Army wraps up a 13-game homestand when it takes on Faifield and plays a four-game series against Navy this week, while Bucknell and Lehigh complete long home stretches during the middle of the week with the Mountain Hawks having another 11-game homestand in mid-late April. Lafayette finally opens its home schedule on Wednesday to begin a stretch of nine straight dates and 15 consecutive games at home, while Holy Cross has a 12-game homestand to close the regular season.
Patriot League Catchers Among Top at Their Position
Patriot League baseball teams features a strong crop of catchers in 2011, and two were named among the best at the position as Lafayette senior A.J. Miller and Army junior J.T. Watkins earned a spot on the Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award Watch list. The Johnny Bench Award honors those athletes that serve as a team's starting catcher in at least 75 percent of the games. Miller earned the Patriot League Player of the Week award on Monday and leads the League in batting average (.419), on-base percentage (.500) and slugging percentage (.767). Watkins has enjoyed success at and behind the plate, and hit a key home run in Army's weekend sweep of Holy Cross.
Another Patriot League Record to Fall?
By this time next week, active players could hold both the career home run and RBI record in the Patriot League. Bucknell's Doug Shribman set the home run record earlier in the year, and is on pace to leave the old mark of 30 in his dust after belting his 36th career home run over the weekend. Army's Clint Moore might end up right behind him on that list after hitting the 27th of his career over the weekend, but no one will likely have more RBIs when he is all said and done. Moore is up to second place in Patriot League history with 153 RBIs, just four off the record held by Bucknell's Tyler Prout (1997-2000).
Army The Black Knights are off to their best start in Patriot League play in 15 years after sweeping Holy Cross over the weekend...Army is at 4-0 in the League for the first time since 1996, and swept the Crusaders for the first time since 2006...Ben Koenigsfeld went 7-for-15 with a home run, five RBIs and five runs scored in the series, and also pitched the final two innings to earn the save in a 2-1 victory in the opener on Saturday...Scott Lucado allowed a run on two hits in the first five innings to earn the win in that game, and was named Patriot League Pitcher of the Week on Monday...Army won each of the next three games by four runs or more, finishing Saturday's doubleheader with an 8-3 victory and sweeping by scores of 6-2 and 13-7 on Sunday...The Black Knights complete their 13-game homestand by welcoming Fairfield on Tuesday and playing a four-game set with Navy over the weekend...Army has won the series against the Mids in each of the past seven seasons, winning 24 of 29 games over that span.
Bucknell The Bison got off to a slow start in defense of their Patriot League title, as Lafayette took three of four games in Lewisburg over the weekend...The one bright spot was again the performance of Ryan Ebner, who allowed just a pair of runs in seven innings to pick up the victory in Bucknell's 11-2 win
in Saturday's nightcap...Ebner saw his 22-inning scoreless streak end on a first-inning home run, but kept the Leopards off the board the rest of the way...He has allowed just two runs in his last 28.1 innings, and improved to 4-1 for the season...The Bison are 5-1 in Ebner's six starts this season, and he has earned the victory in seven of Bucknell's past 15 wins dating back to last year....Doug Shribman hit his Patriot League-leading ninth home run over the weekend, running his career record total to 36...The Bison will try to get back on track this weekend when they visit Holy Cross in a rematch of last year's Patriot League Championship series.
Holy Cross The Crusaders face an uphill climb to get back to the Patriot League Tournament after getting swept in four games at Army over the weekend...Holy Cross was edged, 2-1, in the opener despite a strong performance by John Pedrotty...The junior pitched all six innings and struck out eight while
giving up the two runs to take the hard-luck loss...Holy Cross did post non-League wins against both Massachusetts and Harvard last week...Josh Olson went 4-for-5 with two runs scored and three RBIs in the 14-4 win over the Minutemen, and belted two home runs in the series against Army...He was 10-for-23 with seven runs scored and six RBIs in six games last week...The Crusaders will return home this weekend for a series against Bucknell, who won at Holy Cross in three games to take the 2010 Patriot League title.
Lafayette Senior A.J. Miller continued his tear to help lead Lafayette to three wins in four games at defending champion Bucknell over the weekend...Miller went 8-for-15 with two home runs and five RBIs in the series to receive the Patriot League Player of the Week award...He leads the League in batting average, on-base and slugging percentage for the season...He homered on both Saturday and
Sunday, and went 3-for-4 in a pair of Lafayette victories...Sean McGrath earned a two-inning save in Saturday's 11-5 win, and came on to pitch 2.2 innings and pick up the victory in a 6-3 triumph on Sunday...The Leopards have yet to play a game at home, but that will change when they welcome Monmouth on Wednesday...That begins a stretch of nine consecutive dates and 15 games in a row at home, including the next three Patriot League series...Lafayette welcomes rival Lehigh to Easton this weekend.
Lehigh The Mountain Hawks had a seven-game winning streak after opening their series against Navy with a win, but proceeded to drop the next three to the Mids to lose the set...Mike Lebo allowed two runs in 5.2 innings to earn the victory in the 6-2 win on Saturday...Lehigh lost the next three games by
at least four runs apiece and gave up 30 runs in the contests...Kevin Mihalik batted .500 (11-for-22) in Lehigh's six games last week...The Mountain Hawks play a pair of non-League games before visiting rival Lafayette over the weekend.
Navy Navy broke out the bats for 30 runs in the last three games against Lehigh to win the series in Bethlehem...After falling 6-2 in the opener, the Mids pounded out wins of 9-5, 9-4 and 12-2 to claim three victories in the four-game set...Jeff Bland went 8-for-15 with three runs and three RBIs in the series, and recorded his second 5-for-5 game of the year with five singles in the 12-2 win in
the series finale...Ben Nelson went the distance in Sunday's 9-4 victory, striking out six without allowing a walk...The Mids won their first three road games of the year, and will try to take that momentum into a four-game set at rival Army...Navy has lost the series to the Black Knights in each of the past seven seasons.