April 28, 2014
Army 9, Lehigh 7
WEST POINT, N.Y. - Army scored runs in the first five innings and beat Lehigh, 9-7, to win the Patriot League regular season championship, Monday evening at Johnson Stadium at Doubleday Field.
Army finished the regular season with a Patriot League record of 15-5 and will share the regular season championship with Bucknell.
By virtue of league tiebreaker policy, Bucknell will be the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League semifinals and Army will be the second seed. Army will host Lehigh, while Navy visits Bucknell May 10-11 in best-of-three series. The highest remaining seed will host the Patriot League Championship Series May 17-18.
"I told the guys, any day you get to play for a championship is a great day," said Army interim head coach Matt Reid. "You don't get that opportunity too often. You have tradition, legacy and history here. These kids will be able to look at the outfield wall and see 2014 championship and that's big."
Army, playing its sixth game in as many days, racked up 10 hits and split the season series with Lehigh.
The Black Knights beat Navy in three one-run games and then claimed its eight regular season title and first since 2012 in a Monday contest that featured 20 hits and six errors.
Army improved to 32-13 overall, while Lehigh moved to 23-21.
"We're just trying to stay sharp in everything we're doing," said Reid. "In our execution at the plate, making sure we are swinging at pitches in the zone and making good decisions. Seeing the ball well and playing good defense. And making sure we are playing the game the right way and getting better every time we are out there."
Harold Earls knocked in four runs to pace the Army offense while Daniel Cortes registered two hits.
Justin French collected the win for Army, throwing 2.0 innings of scoreless relief. Brian Hapeman threw an inning and Johnny Griffith picked up the save. Erik Washburn fired the first 2.1 inning before yielding to Patrick Gardner for 2.2 innings of work.
Army jumped out to a 1-0 lead in its first at-bat. Kris Linder bunted for a basehit and took second on an overthrow. Cortes singled to send Lindner to third. Mark McCants grounded out to plate Lindner and Army led 1-0.
The Black Knights made it a 2-0 contest in the second inning. With one out, Jacob Page reached on an error and Grant Van Orden was hit by a pitch. Ben Smith lined a single to score Page for a 2-0 advantage.
Lehigh took the lead in the top of the third inning. John Elson delivered a two-run double and Tyler Brong singled in a run for a 3-2 lead.
Earls quickly put Army back on top in the bottom half of the inning. McCants was hit by a pitch and Patrick Mescher walked. One out later, Earls drilled a single to score two runs. Page and Smith walked to load the bases and Lindner was hit by a pitch to force in Earls. Cortes then stroked a single to score Page to extend the Army lead to 6-3 after three innings.
The Mountain Hawks, which won three of four games against Lafayette over the weekend, tied the game in the top of the fourth inning on a run-scoring single from Joe Abeln and an error that allowed two runs to score.
Earls again helped Army re-take the lead, this time singling past a drawn-in infield to score Mescher and Alex Jensen who hit back-to-back singles and advanced on a double steal. Earls stole second and third and trotted home on an error.
The Mountain Hawks trimmed the deficit to two runs in the top of the fifth inning behind a Mike Garzillo run-scoring single.
Lehigh had the tying run on first base in the bottom of the ninth after a walk and hit by pitch. Griffith, who struck out the first batter he faced, then earned two more strikeouts to earn the save.
Army will conclude regular season play this weekend at Johnson Stadium with a three-game series against Cincinnati. The first night game at historic Doubleday Field is set for Friday at 7 p.m. The team teams will also play Saturday (4 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.).
GAME NOTES: Army wore its white home uniforms ... Freshman Kris Lindner hit leadoff for Army ... Senior Jon Crucitti hit leadoff in the first 44 games of the season ... Major Brian Pace, an instructor the Combating Terrorism Center, served as Officer Representative.