No. 4 Army opens NCAA Tournament against No. 1 Virginia



May 30, 2012

Army's NCAA Tournament Central

Patriot League NCAA Tournament Release (5.30.12)Get Acrobat Reader

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. -- The Army Black Knights are back in the NCAA Tournament after winning their sixth Patriot League Championship.

Army (41-13), which heads to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in school history and fourth time in the last nine years, earned a fourth seed in the Charlottesville Regional and will face No. 1-seeded Virginia (38-17-1) in the regional's first game in Charlottesville, Va. Second-seeded Oklahoma (38-22) will face third-seeded Appalachian State (39-16).

The four teams will battle in one of 16 double-elimination regional tournaments that begin Friday. The winner of the Charlottesville Regional will advance to the Columbia Regionals in the NCAA Super Regionals (June 8-11).

The eight Super Regional winners will advance to the College World Series, scheduled to be played June 15-26 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.

Army is the only Patriot League team to have won more than one NCAA Tournament game. In 2005, the Black Knights beat South Alabama 8-5, and in 2009, Army advanced to the regional final after winning back-to-back games against Texas State and Boston College. Against No. 1 Texas in the regional final, Army lost 14-10.

Kevin McKague, the 2012 Patriot League Player of the Year, was a key contributor on that team, batting .389 with six homers, 44 RBIs and 45 runs scored.

This season, McKague is batting .389 with five homers, 44 RBIs and 38 runs scored. The senior first baseman was named to the Patriot League All-Tournament team after he helped the Black Knights take two of three games in the championship series against Holy Cross.

The Tournament MVP, senior second basemen Zach Price, also is one of four Black Knights batting .300 this season. Price moved into the League's top 10 in all-time hits, batting .324 in 54 games. He's scored a League-best 50 runs, including the game-winning run in the decisive Game 3 of the Patriot League Championship.

Catcher J.T. Watkins, also a member of the All-Tournament Team, and Harold Earls have been big at the plate, as well. Earls, the Patriot League Rookie of the Year, is third in the League in hitting with a .347 average, and Watkins is batting .318 with five homers, 31 RBIs and 25 runs scored.

The Black Knights led the League in multiple offensive categories, but it was their pitching that made the biggest impact, posting a 3.20 ERA.

Chris Rowley and Logan Lee led the way, combining for a 19-2 record. Rowley, who is No. 1 in the NCAA with an 11-0 record, has a 1.97 ERA in 91⅓ innings. The Patriot League Pitcher of the Year struggled in the tournament after giving up just two earned runs during the League season, but he still remains a top pitching option for the Black Knights. Lee, who won Game 1 of the Patriot League Championship, is 8-2 with a 3.28 ERA in 85 innings. He tossed a nine-inning, complete-game shutout in Game 1 earning a spot on the All-Tournament Team. During the regular season, Lee earned Second-Team All-League honors. He became the 11th Patriot League pitcher and first Army pitcher since 1957 to throw a no-hitter.

Army also boasts a seven-game winner in Nick Dignacco (7-2), who started Game 3, but got a no-decision after the game was tied at 4-4 and suspended by rain. Dignacco has a 3.38 ERA in 66⅔ innings. Alex Robinett also has seen time as a starter for Army, pitching to a 2.73 ERA and a 3-1 record. In the Patriot League Tournament, he was a part of the bullpen that also features Gunnar Carroll, who has eight saves and a 2.45 ERA in 51⅓ innings and 21 appearances.

Army pitching will have to be at the top of its game as Virginia and Appalachian State are among the NCAA's top offenses. Appalachian State is 17th in batting with a .317 average and 15th in runs scored with 398 (7.2 per game).  Virginia is 31st with a .298 average and 16th in runs with 391 (7.0 per game).

Virginia finished 18-12 in the ACC and lost in Pool A to the eventual ACC Champion Georgia Tech. The Cavaliers were one of five ACC teams selected to host regional tournaments.

Appalachian State, at 21-9, was the Southern Conference's regular-season champion, but lost in the Southern Conference Tournament.

Oklahoma finished fourth in the Big 12 with a 13-10 record and fell to Missouri in the Big 12 Championship Game.

Friday, June 1
Game 1: #1 Virginia vs. #4 Army - 11 a.m. \ suspended due to rain  
Game 2: #2 Oklahoma vs. #3 Appalachian State - TBA, to follow Game 1

Saturday, June 2 
Game 3: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 - 1 p.m. 
Game 4: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 - 6 p.m.

Sunday, June 3 
Game 5: Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 - 1 p.m. 
Game 6: Regional Championship Game (Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5) - 6 p.m.

Monday, June 4 
Game 7: Second Regional Championship Game (Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6) - 6 p.m. 
**Played if Game 5 winner wins Game 6**

For the sixth time in the past eight seasons, the Patriot League representative will play in a regional hosted by an ACC school. Army becomes the fourth team to head to Virginia in that time after Lehigh (2006), Lafayette (2007) and Navy (2011) all played regionals in Charlottesville, Va., while Army (2005) and Bucknell (2008) both played at Florida State. A Patriot League team has faced an ACC opponent in the NCAA Regionals in each of the past eight seasons, with a 2-6 record in those contests.

Army's 41st win gave the program its sixth Patriot League title and it extended its League record for wins in a season. Army also won 18 Patriot League games in 2012, including a streak of 17 straight to start the season, falling one win shy of Navy's record 19 wins in 1995. The Mids went 19-5 that season when the League was comprised of seven teams. Army's League winning percentage of .900 is a new League record, as are the 17 consecutive League wins.

Army senior second baseman Zach Price was named the Patriot League Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Price becomes the seventh student-athlete from Army and the fourth consecutive Black Knight to win the prestigious Scholar-Athlete award. He also becomes a member of the Academic All-League Team for the second time in his career. He is joined by Bucknell's David Duffett, Russell Seidell, Jack Boehm and Matt Lamore; Holy Cross' Jordan Enos, Patrick Puentes and Nate Koneski; Lafayette's Chris Boyce and Lehigh's Cory Kent.

Price, a native of Cantonment, Fla., has a 3.732 GPA in systems engineering. He has been named to the Dean's List every semester since arriving at West Point (earning 3.0 GPA or better each semester). He received the Superintendent's Award (top 20 percent of his class) each semester and he's currently ranked 157th of 1,037 cadets in the West Point senior class. Price was named a Distinguished Cadet (GPA of 3.67 or better) each semester and he's a member of the New York Alpha Zeta Chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon, the National Honorary Mathematics Society.

He was a member of the inaugural All-Patriot League Baseball Academic Team and has been named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll each of his first three seasons. Price is a finalist for this year's Lowe's Senior CLASS Award and he was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America District I second team each of the past two seasons.

Army senior Kevin McKague has moved near the top of several Patriot League all-time record lists. He added to his Patriot League all-time hits record with three more in the Patriot League final, pushing his total to 282. He moved to within three RBIs of tying Clint Moore (Army, 2008-11) for the top spot in RBIs at 185.

He's currently tied for the Patriot League record in saves, after posting his 27th in a 6-2 win over Navy on March 30. He tied former Army reliever Milan Dinga, who had 27 saves from 2004-07.

He's also second in doubles with 55 and he's one away from tying for first place.

Army senior Zach Price also has etched his named into the League record book with his 125 career walks, pushing him into No. 1 all-time. He also moved into the top five in hits with 238.