Army Slips Past St. Peter's, 6-5

Cody Murtle

Cody Murtle

April 18, 2012

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WEST POINT, N.Y. - Cody Murtle performed well both offensively and defensively in the ninth inning, and his efforts were a major reason why the Army baseball team continued its win streak.

Murtle's defensive play in the top of the ninth prevented St. Peter's from scoring the go-ahead run, and his leadoff double in the bottom half of the frame ignited Army's game-winning rally in a 6-5 victory over the Peacocks on Wednesday afternoon at Doubleday Field.

Army has won five straight games and 24 of its last 29 contests to improve to 29-9 on the year. The Black Knights are now just one win away from securing the fifth 30-win season in program history.

Army loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth, and Patrick Mescher delivered an RBI single to score Murtle from third base with the game-winning run. Murtle, whose sixth-inning home run gave the Black Knights a 5-2 advantage, began the ninth-inning rally with a double down the right field line. A Harold Earls groundout moved Murtle to third base, and Alex Jensen and Matthew Carter were both intentionally walked to load the bases. Mescher capped Army's third walk-off win of the season with an infield hit.

The Black Knights' ninth-inning rally might never have happened if it wasn't for Murtle's defensive performance in the top of the frame.

St. Peter's (13-24) had rallied from a late three-run deficit to tie the game at 5-5, and it seemed as though the Peacocks were poised to take the lead. But a stellar defensive play by Murtle saved a run and gave Army the chance to win the game in the bottom of the frame. With the bases loaded and just one out, James Smith lofted a fly ball into right field. Murtle made the catch and then fired the ball to Army catcher J.T. Watkins, who threw a dart down to third base to double off Nicholas Henriquez, who had started for the plate before retreating.

Murtle finished 2-for-4 with a home run, a double, two runs batted in and a pair of runs scored. Earls, meanwhile, went 2-for-4 with a run scored to help pace Army offensively.

"I didn't think that we came out of the gates very well offensively, and I give a lot of credit to St. Peter's," said Army head coach Joe Sottolano. "I thought they played the game extremely well; they're a very well-coached team. Their pitchers threw a ton of strikes all day long, and made it tough on us. It took every ounce of effort today to come away with a win."

The Black Knights' mentor was pleased with the play of Murtle throughout today's game, but especially late.

"Cody's done a tremendous job for us this season," added Sottolano. "We've been fortunate to have different people step up on different days, and Cody certainly was there today. We needed that boost that he gave us, and it became contagious. You could see the fire in everyone's eyes after he hit that double in the ninth inning. I thought that really motivated us, and gave the entire team a positive impact."

Army took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Earls singled with one out, stole second and scored on Carter's fielder's choice grounder.

St. Peter's rallied to take a 2-1 advantage in the top of the fourth as the Peacocks scored two runs on four hits. Brian Schroeder and Patrick Farrell hit back-to-back singles in front of Preston Aldridge, who ripped an RBI double to left center field to score Schroeder from second. Matt Mancini followed with a run-scoring base hit up the middle, plating Farrell from third base with the go-ahead run.

Army was retired in order in the third, fourth and fifth innings against St. Peter's starting pitcher Dominick Macaluso, but the Black Knights exploded offensively in the sixth against Peacocks' reliever Adam Purcilly. Army pushed across four runs on three hits and one walk in the stanza to assume a 5-2 lead.

Zach Price drew a leadoff walk to ignite the rally, and he moved to second base on Daniel Cortes' sacrifice bunt. Watkins then singled to right field, and he and Price executed a double steal with Price scoring the game-tying run. Mark McCants grounded a base hit through the right side of the infield, moving Watkins to third base, and the Army catcher scored the go-ahead run when Purcilly uncorked a wild pitch. Murtle then hit a line drive home run over the fence in left field to extend Army's lead to 5-2.

St. Peter's rallied to tie the score at 5-all with two runs in the eighth inning and another in the ninth.

The Peacocks were led by Aldridge and Mancini, who both finished 2-for-3 with two runs batted in. Schroeder was 3-for-5, and William Rawon and Henriquez both collected two hits apiece to pace SPC's 14-hit attack.

Ethan Jackson (0-2) allowed Army's ninth inning rally and took the loss for the Peacocks. The right-hander allowed one run on two hits and two walks in three innings of work.

Army wraps up its 10-game homestand this weekend (April 21-22) when the Black Knights host Patriot League rival Bucknell in a four-game series at Doubleday Field. Saturday's action is set for 12 p.m., with Sunday's twinbill slated for 1 p.m.

Game Notes: Army improves to 10-2 all-time versus St. Peter's ... Army wore its white pinstripe uniforms with black caps today ... Colin Briant matched his career high with four strikeouts ... Andrew Flaherty struck out a career-high three batters ... Zach Price extended his hitting streak to 10 straight games with a first-inning single ... Price and Harold Earls have both reached base safely in 10 straight games.

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