Army, Holy Cross advance to Patriot League Championship



May 12, 2012

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — After a rough first two innings to start the day, No. 1-seeded Army bounced back to sweep No. 4 Lafayette on Saturday in West Point, N.Y., and advance to the Patriot League Championship series.

No. 2 Holy Cross also swept its Patriot League semifinal series, besting No. 3 Navy in a pair of games Saturday in Worcester, Mass. The Patriot League Championship series will begin with a doubleheader at noon Sunday in West Point, N.Y., and the third game (if necessary) of the series is set for 1 p.m. Monday.

Army won the first game 8-7 after trailing 6-0 in the fourth and won 6-3 in the second game to complete the sweep. Army ties a single-season record with 39 wins.

It was a big day for relievers, as closer Gunnar Carroll picked up saves in both of Army's wins. Holy Cross closer John Colella had a save in Holy Cross' 1-0 win in the first game and he recorded the win in the Crusaders' 4-2 extra-inning victory in game two.

Game 1: Army 8, Lafayette 7 | Boxscore | Video Highlights

WEST POINT, N.Y. — Top-seeded Army didn’t look the top seed for two innings against Lafayette, but the Black Knights rallied to win 8-7 in Game 1 of the Patriot League Tournament semifinals Saturday at Doubleday Field.

Army pitcher Chris Rowley improved to an NCAA-best 11-0 on the season, striking out five over seven innings of work. His 11 wins are a new Patriot League single-season record.

Rowley, who was handed his Patriot League Pitcher of the Year award prior to the start of the game, was a bit wild at first, but he settled down to hold Lafayette to one run over his final five innings.

Gunnar Carroll pitched the final two innings to collect his seventh save of the season.

Led by Andrew Santomauro, who went 3-for-4 with four runs scored, Lafayette took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first and added three more runs in the second to take a 5-0 lead. Rowley hit a pair of batters to load the bases in the first and Parker Hills hit a two-out two-RBI single for the early lead.

Rowley struggled with control again in the second, loading the bases and forcing in runs with a hit batter, a walk and a fielder’s choice.

Lafayette made it 6-0 in the fourth with an RBI single by Thomas Dunleavy, who finished 2-for-4, but Army began its comeback in the bottom half of the fourth with an RBI single by Mark McCants.

McCants was at it again in the bottom of the sixth, blasting a two-run homer over the right-center field wall. Three batters later, J.T. Watkins hit a two-run home run to cut it to 6-5 and after a pitching change, Army loaded the bases and scored runs on a hit batter and a walk to take the 7-6 lead. Watkins drove in a much-needed insurance run in the seventh to make it 8-6.

Carroll allowed a run in the eighth, but pitched a perfect 1-2-3 ninth to close it out.

Game 2: Army 6, Lafayette 3 | Boxscore | Video Highlights

WEST POINT, N.Y. — Army jumped out to an early lead and the pitchers took care of the rest in a 6-3 win over Lafayette in Game 2 of the Patriot League Tournament semifinals.

Daniel Cortes went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored and J.T. Watkins was 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs. Harold Earls also drove in two runs, too.

Army lefty starter Logan Lee went 6.1 innings, holding Lafayette to three runs on 10 hits and three walks. Lee struck out six. Manny Fernandez pitched two innings of scoreless relief and Gunnar Carroll came on to record the final two outs for his second save of the day and eighth of the season.

Army loaded the bases in the top of the first and Earls doubled in a pair of runs for a 2-0 lead.

Lafayette countered with a run in the bottom half of the first with Thomas Dunleavy’s solo home run to left.

Army made it 3-1 in the fifth on a Watkins' RBI single, and after Lafayette cut it to 3-2 in the sixth, Cody Murtle plated a run on a suicide squeeze.

Lafayette again cut it to a one-run lead at 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh, but Army pulled away for good with a pair of runs in the eighth.

Game 1: Holy Cross 1, Navy 0 | Boxscore | Video Highlights

WORCESTER, Mass. — Holy Cross pitcher Nate Koneski pitched a gem and Brandon Cipolla provided the only offense the Crusaders needed in a 1-0 win over Navy in Game 1 of the Patriot League semifinals.

Koneski went seven innings, limiting Navy to two hits and two walks, while striking out six. John Colella collected the save, pitching the final 1.2 innings after reliever Mike Ahmed ran into trouble in the eighth. Colella worked out of jams in both the eighth and the ninth to close it out.

Navy starter Preston Gainey also pitched a great game, allowing one run on six hits and a walk. He struck out nine.

Holy Cross managed its only run in the bottom of the sixth when Steven Tkowski hit a one-out double to left-center and scored on Cipolla’s double down the left-field line.

Ahmed finished 3-for-4 in the game and was the only player to have multiple hits.

Game 2: Holy Cross 4, Navy 2 (10 innings) | Boxscore | Video Highlights

WORCESTER, Mass. — Holy Cross pitcher John Colella was the savior again in the Crusaders' 4-2 extra-inning win over Navy in Game 2 of the Patriot League semifinals.

Colella entered the game with two runners on and no outs in the ninth, and after he issued a walk to load the bases, he got a flyout, a groundout and a strikeout to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 10th, he navigated past a pair of walks to keep the Mids off the board and seal the 4-2 win.

Holy Cross took the lead in the top half of the 10th, and it came after Joel Rinehart had recorded his third straight strikeout in the inning. Holy Cross' Chris Sintetos was the third strikeout victim, but a wild pitch on strike three allowed him to reach safely at first base with two outs. After Steven Tkowski singled through the right side and Brandon Cipolla walked to load the bases, Patrick Puentes drew another walk to force in Sintetos, the go-ahead run. Evan Ocello followed with a third straight walk to make it 4-2.

The Crusaders took a 2-0 lead in the fourth, but Navy tied it in the bottom of the fifth with a two-run homer by Nikolai Simonsen. It was the only runs given up by Holy Cross starter Donny Murray, who lasted six innings, striking out two while allowing just three hits. Matt Croglio pitched 2.1 innings of scoreless relief for Holy Cross.

Ben Nelson also had a quality start for the Mids, lasting 7.2 innings, allowing two runs on five hits and five walks. He struck out eight to work himself out of jams, helping Navy strand a total of 12 Holy Cross base runners.