Army sweeps Patriot League Baseball major awards

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Army pitcher Chris Rowley
Army pitcher Chris Rowley

May 8, 2012

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Army baseball cruised to the most Patriot League wins since 1995 and the postseason awards reflect that performance.

The Black Knights swept all four major awards and placed five players on the All-Patriot League First Team, announced Tuesday.

Army head coach Joe Sottolano, who led his Black Knights to a 37-12 overall record and an 18-2 mark in the League, was named the Patriot League Coach of the Year for the third time in his career and first time since 2005.

Senior first baseman Kevin McKague, who became the League’s all-time hit leader, was named the Patriot League Player of the Year, while junior Chris Rowley was named the Patriot League Pitcher of the Year. Freshman Harold Earls completed the sweep with Army’s fifth Patriot League Rookie of the Year award.

Army and Holy Cross, who each will host a best-of-three-game Patriot League semifinal series on Saturday, placed five players on the first team and two on the second. Navy, which will travel to Holy Cross for the Patriot League Tournament, and Bucknell each had one player on the first team and two on the second team, while Lehigh placed five on the second team. Lafayette, which will travel to West Point for the Patriot League Tournament, earned one second team selection.

Among those named to the first team, McKague became the eighth player in Patriot League history to earn All-League honors in all four seasons. He was named to the second team as a freshman in 2008, and in 2009 and 2010 he was named to the first team.

McKague led the League in batting with a .385 average, driving in 41 runs and scoring 32. He has 14 doubles and five homers, ranking in the top five in both categories. With his League-best 67 hits, he set a new Patriot League career record with 275 hits. He’s also second in League history with 53 career doubles, second in RBIs with 179 and seventh in homers with 24. McKague also showed speed on the base paths, stealing 10 bases. In the field, he made just two errors for a .996 fielding percentage. He had 463 putouts and 37 assists. He also recorded five saves as a reliever to tie the Patriot League career record in saves (27). He has a 1.46 ERA and a 1-0 record in 11 appearances and 12.1 innings.

Rowley was extraordinary on the mound, dominating the League with a 0.51 ERA in five complete-game wins. He’s posted the nation’s third-best ERA of 1.26 through 12 starts and 78.2 innings, going an NCAA-best 10-0 with five complete-game shutouts. He was second in the League in strikeouts with 66, holding opponents to a .164 batting average. His WHIP of 0.72 ranks No. 1 in the nation.

Earls started in 46 games as a freshman, finishing fourth in batting with a .348 average. He had 19 RBIs and 24 runs scored, and he drew 22 walks. Earls led the League in stolen bases with 19 and he had nine sacrifices.

McKague and Rowley also were named to the All-Patriot League First Team. Holy Cross senior Nate Koneski (2.36 ERA, 6-2, 71Ks) joined Rowley as the two starting pitchers selected. Holy Cross closer John Colella (2.28 ERA, 4-1, 45Ks, 10 saves), who had a League-best 10 saves, was named a First Team All-League relief pitcher. Sophomore third baseman Mike Ahmed (.296, 24 RBIs, 38 runs, 7 HRs), junior shortstop Alex Maldonado (.303, 22 RBIs, 37 runs, 14 stolen bases) and junior outfielder Patrick Puentes (.357, 20 RBIs, 27 runs) also were named to the first team. Ahmed, who hit a League-best seven homers, led all batters in League play with a .373 average.

Rounding out Army’s first team selections were senior catcher J.T. Watkins (.294, 22 RBIs, 21 runs), freshman designated hitter Mark McCants (.250, 23 RBIs, 22 runs) and senior second baseman Zach Price (.323, 23 RBIs, 44 runs, 14 stolen bases), who joins the list of three-time honorees with a trio of first team selections.

Bucknell senior Bob Donato (.362, 31 RBIs, 32 runs, 6 HRs) and Navy senior Alex Azor (.340, 21 RBIs, 37 runs) were each named First-Team All-League outfielders.

The All-Patriot League Second Team, which featured two extra players due to ties in voting, is led by a pair of starting pitchers who had great seasons for their clubs. Army senior Logan Lee (3.62 ERA, 6-2, 52Ks), who threw the 11th no-hitter in Patriot League history and the first for Army since 1957, was named to the second team, along with Lehigh senior starter Cory Kent (1.88 ERA, 4-3, 53Ks, 5 saves), who was second in the NCAA in complete games with seven. Kent’s ERA ranks in the top 10 on the League’s all-time single-season list.

Kent was joined by four teammates — senior catcher Chad Warga (.248, 14 RBIs, 11 runs), senior shortstop Brendan McGaheran (.305, 21 RBIs, 39 runs, 18 stolen bases), sophomore outfielder Joe Abeln (.289, 25 RBIs, 32 runs) and sophomore designated hitter Tyler Brong (.319, 17 RBIs, 14 runs) — on the All-League Second Team.

Bucknell senior relief pitcher Alex Cillo (2.77 ERA, 3-0, 35Ks, 6 saves) and senior outfielder Gerry Runyan (.283, 19 RBIs, 25 runs) were selected to the second team, as were Navy sophomore starting pitcher Preston Gainey (3.54 ERA, 3-2, 45Ks) and junior third baseman Greg Dupell (.331, 44 RBIs, 38 runs, 33 walks). Holy Cross also had a pair of second team selections in sophomore outfielder Brandon Ciplolla (.308, 26 RBIs, 28 runs) and junior first baseman Jordan Enos (.313, 21 RBIs, 19 runs).

Army senior outfielder Cody Murtle (.269, 39 RBI, 31 runs) also earned a spot on the team, as well as Lafayette junior second baseman Kevin Casey (.330, 17 RBIs, 19 runs).

The Patriot League Baseball Tournament begins Saturday with a pair of best-of-three-game semifinals hosted by No. 1 Army and No. 2 Holy Cross. Army (37-12, 18-2 Patriot League) will host fourth-seeded Lafayette (14-35-1, 7-13) at Doubleday Field in West Point, N.Y., while Holy Cross (30-20, 13-7) will entertain No. 3 seeded Navy (23-27, 9-11) at Fitton Field in Worcester, Mass.

2012 Patriot League Major Awards
Player of the Year
: Kevin McKague, Army, Sr.
Pitcher of the Year: Chris Rowley, Army, Jr.
Rookie of the Year: Harold Earls, Army, Fr.
Coach of the Year: Joe Sottolano, Army

First Team All-Patriot League
: Chris Rowley, Army, Jr.
SP: Nate Koneski, Holy Cross, Sr.
RP: John Colella, Holy Cross, Jr.
C: J.T. Watkins, Army Sr.
1B: Kevin McKague, Army, Sr.
2B: Zach Price, Army, Sr.
3B: Mike Ahmed, Holy Cross, So.
SS: Alex Maldonado, Holy Cross, Jr.
OF: Bob Donato, Bucknell, Sr.
OF: Patrick Puentes, Holy Cross, Jr.
OF: Alex Azor, Navy, Sr.
DH: Mark McCants, Army, Fr.

Second Team All-Patriot League
: Logan Lee, Army, Sr.
SP: Cory Kent, Lehigh, Sr.
SP: Preston Gainey, Navy, So.
RP: Alex Cillo, Bucknell, Sr.
C: Chad Warga, Lehigh, Sr.
1B: Jordan Enos, Holy Cross, Jr.
2B: Kevin Casey, Lafayette, Jr.
3B: Greg Dupell, Navy, Jr.
SS: Brendan McGaheran, Lehigh, Sr.
OF: Cody Murtle, Army, Sr.
OF: Gerry Runyan, Bucknell, Sr.
OF: Brandon Cipolla, Holy Cross, So.
OF: Joe Abeln, Lehigh, So.
DH: Tyler Brong, Lehigh, So.

* The All-Patriot League Second Team has an extra starting pitcher and extra outfielder due to a tie in voting.