Army Splits Doubleheader With Holy Cross

Alex Jensen rounds the bases after hitting a home run.

Alex Jensen rounds the bases after hitting a home run.

April 27, 2013

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WEST POINT, N.Y. - Patrick Mescher combined to go 6-for-8 with two home runs, four runs scored and three RBI, and Jon Crucitti finished 5-for-8 with three runs scored and one RBI as the Army baseball team split a doubleheader with Patriot League rival Holy Cross on a sun-splashed Saturday afternoon at Doubleday Field. Army won the first game 10-6, before bowing in the nightcap by the final score of 10-7.

The doubleheader split leaves Army (21-19, 11-7 PL) in a tie for second place in the Patriot League standings with Navy (11-7 PL) with just two conference games remaining for both schools. Holy Cross (23-22, 13-5 PL) maintains sole possession of first place in the conference standings, two games clear of the Black Knights and Midshipmen.

Army needs to sweep tomorrow's twinbill to secure at least a share of its second consecutive Patriot League regular-season championship, while Holy Cross can win its first-ever conference title with a split of Sunday's doubleheader.

"I'm proud of the guys," said Army head coach Joe Sottolano. "I thought we battled hard all day, especially offensively. I thought Holy Cross played well; they swung the bats fairly well. I'm excited about tomorrow, and the opportunity that we have in front of us. I am encouraged by the energy of our guys, and the way we're swinging the bats. This club has come a long way and I'm very proud of them."

Alex Jensen and Michael Sands combined to go 4-for-8 with six RBI and three runs scored to spark the Black Knights in the first game. Both players hit home runs during Army's six-run fourth inning rally that blew the game wide open. Mescher was 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored in the first game, while Crucitti went 3-for-5 with one RBI and one run scored. Grant Van Orden also collected two singles as Army banged out 14 hits against the Crusaders in the series opener.

Chris Rowley (6-3) was the beneficiary of the Black Knights' offensive output, earning his fourth straight win on the mound. He allowed six runs (four earned) on 10 hits and two walks in seven innings of work. He struck out four batters.

Army took a 1-0 lead in the first inning of the opener as Harold Earls walked with one out, advanced to second base on Jensen's groundout and scored when Mark McCants pulled a single through the right side of the infield.

The Black Knights extended their lead to 4-0 in the second inning, pushing across three runs on four hits and one Holy Cross error. Mescher singled leading off the frame, moved to second base on Jacob Page's sacrifice bunt and scored when Sands doubled down the left field line. After Andrew Johnson struck out, Van Orden reached on an infield single to put runners on the corners. Sands scored on a throwing error by the Holy Cross catcher and Van Orden plated the third run of the inning when he scampered home on Crucitti's RBI single.

Holy Cross cut the Black Knights' lead to 4-2 in the top of the third, scoring a pair of unearned runs on one hit and a pair of Army errors.

Army resorted to the long ball in the fourth inning, as the Black Knights sent 11 men to the plate and scored six times on six hits to extend their advantage to 10-2. Crucitti singled leading off the frame and Earls followed with a walk to put runners on first and second for Jensen, who lined a pitch over the fence in left field for a three-run homer. McCants was then hit by a pitch and Mescher followed with a double to put runners on second and third. McCants scored on Page's groundout and Mescher was aboard when Sands launched a two-run shot to left field.

Holy Cross pushed across three runs in the sixth and one more in the seventh to account for the final margin.

Tom Marra (3-4) took the loss for the Crusaders after yielding eight runs (seven earned) on eight hits and four walks in three-plus innings.

Brandon Cipolla went 2-for-4 with a home run to lead Holy Cross' 10-hit attack.

Evan Ocello finished 4-for-6 with three runs scored, and Patrick Puentes went 1-for-2 with four RBI to help Holy Cross to the victory in the second game. The Crusaders plated three runs in the top of the seventh inning to snap a 6-6 tie, and they were able to hold off Army in the late innings to post the win and earn the split.

Mescher was 3-for-4 with two home runs, three RBI and two runs scored to lead Army offensively in the nightcap. Crucitti and Earls each recorded two hits, while Jensen had another home run and two RBI.

Holy Cross took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, plating two runs on one hit. The Crusaders loaded the bases with nobody out and scored runs on a groundout and sacrifice fly.

Army came right back in the bottom of the first, scoring three runs on a pair of round-trippers to establish a 3-2 advantage. Crucitti singled to begin the uprising and he scored when Jensen homered to left field. Two batters later, Mescher connected with his first career home run to provide the Black Knights with the early lead.

Holy Cross tied the game in the second inning when Alex Maldonado scored on a wild pitch, and the Crusaders grabbed a 5-3 lead in the third when Puentes smacked a two-run home run down the right field line. HC made it 6-3 in the fourth when Puentes came through with his second sacrifice fly of the game.

Army rallied with three runs in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game at 6-6. Van Orden, Crucitti and Earls hit consecutive singles to begin the inning, and Van Orden scored the first run of the frame on a passed ball. After Jensen was hit by a pitch to re-load the bases, McCants lofted a sacrifice fly to right field to score Crucitti from third base. Mescher followed with an RBI single to cap the uprising and tie the game at 6-all.

Holy Cross countered in the top of the seventh as the Crusaders put together a two-out rally. Maldonado's RBI single up the middle scored Stephen Wadsworth from second base to give HC a 7-6 lead, while Andrew Barry's two-run double extended the Crusaders' advantage to 9-6.

Mescher's second home run of the game in the bottom of the seventh drew Army to within 9-7, but Mike Ahmed blasted a solo shot of his own in the top of the ninth to make it 10-7.

Andrew Boyce (5-4) earned the victory in relief for Holy Cross after allowing two runs on six hits in 2.2 innings of work. John Colella picked up his fifth save of the season, tossing 2.1 innings of hitless relief. He retired seven of the final eight batters he faced.

Jack Verrill (0-3) was saddled with the loss for Army, despite permitting just one run on two hits and three walks over 3.2 innings.

Army and Holy Cross close out their four-game series on Sunday, April 28, with another doubleheader scheduled for 1 p.m.

Game Notes: Army moves to 66-31-2 all-time versus Holy Cross ... Army honored the three senior members of its team - Andrew Johnson, Chris Rowley, and Michael Sands - in a special Senior Day ceremony prior to the first game of the doubleheader ... Rowley moved into a tie for fourth place on Army's all-time wins list (22) ... Rowley also moved into fifth place on Army's all-time strikeouts list (197) and lists seventh place Army's all-time innings pitched list (244.0) ... Rowley also moved into a tie for sixth place on Army's all-time winning percentage list (.733, 22-8) ... Sands' home run was the first of his career ... Sands had a career-best three hits and two runs scored in the first game ... he also matched his career best with three RBI in the opener ... Sands had his first double of the season (second career) in the first game ... Jon Crucitti matched his career high with three hits in the opening game ... Harold Earls had a career-best three walks in the opener ... he also matched his career high with two runs scored in the first game ... Davis Marlar equaled his career best with two strikeouts in the second game ... Patrick Mescher posted a career-best nine total bases in the second game ... he also matched his career high with three RBI ... Mescher equaled his career best with three hits in both games ... Mark McCants extended his hitting streak to 13 games with base hits in both contests ... Alex Jensen extended his hitting streak to 11 games.

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