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EASTON, Pa. (May 13, 2007) -- Lafayette's baseball team captured its first-ever Patriot League title with a 7-3 victory over Army Sunday at Class of `78 Stadium in Easton, Pa. With the victory, the Leopards (32-17) extended its school record for most victories in one season and also returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1990.
In game two of the best-of-three series, Lafayette opened the scoring with two runs in the top of the first inning. James Conrad opened up with a single to center field, and he then stole second and third. Mike Raible drove home Conrad with a single. With two outs in the inning, Dave Dreschel recorded the first of his three hits of the game to score Raible and give the Leopards a 2-0 advantage. Conrad and Dreschel were two of four Lafayette players named to the All-Patriot League Tournament team, while Raible was named the Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Army (25-23-1) reduced Lafayette's lead in the bottom of the second inning. J.P. Polchinski and Bo Cipra each singled home runs to knot the game 2-2. In the fifth inning, the Leopards took a 3-2 lead on singles by Chris Luick and Hayes and a throwing error by Army allowed Lafayette to score one of five unearned runs on the afternoon.
In the sixth inning, Lafayette tallied four runs with the help of three Black Knight miscues. The first two Leopards reached base via errors. Daniel Bierce singled to score Drechsel, and Luick and Tom Hayes each singled home one run. The final run crossed home plate following another Army error to give Lafayette a 7-2 lead.
Kevin Reese pitched into the ninth inning before being leaving the game with his career longest outing. Army managed to score one run on Andy Ernesto's RBI-double off Reese to put the final at 7-3.
Reese struck out five and allowed three runs on nine hits in 8.1 innings. He walked just one. Army starter Drew Clothier suffered the loss, after allowing seven runs (two earned) to go along with eight strikeouts in six innings. Ben Mayhew threw the final three innings and scattered three hits.
Lafayette's Hayes, who had four hits in Sunday's contest, and Matt Kamine were also selected to the All-Tournament Team.
Kamine was the winning pitcher on Saturday while Drechsel threw out three base stealers and picking off another in two games. Army's Nick Hill, Chris Simmons and Andy Ernesto earned spots on the All-Tournament Team while Navy was represented by Mitch Harris and Thomas Hamilton.
Lafayette will learn its NCAA fate on Monday, May 28, when the entire NCAA field is announced.
Next year, the Patriot League tournament format will expand to four teams and will be played over two weekends. The highest two seeds after the regular season will host the best two-of-three series with the winners of the two series squaring off for the Patriot League Championship.
NOTES: Conrad's two stolen bases gave him 81 for his career and moved him into sole possession of the Lafayette career stolen base record. Bert Solivan '90 previously held the mark with 79. In two games in the Patriot League Championship, Lafayette stole nine bases to increase the Leopards' season total to 130.