Baseball Begins Playoffs This Weekend

May 8, 2014

Army Baseball Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

The Army baseball team shared the regular season Patriot League championship with Bucknell. Now, the Black Knights take their next step, hosting Lehigh in the Patriot League semifinals, Saturday and Sunday, if necessary at Doubleday Field at Johnson Stadium.

By virtue of tie-breaker procedures, Army will be the second seed and host third-seeded Lehigh in a best-of-three game series. All three games are nine innings. Saturday's doubleheader will begin at noon while Sunday's game, if necessary, will begin at 1 p.m. Lehigh will be designated the home team in the second game, per Patriot League guidelines.

Army concluded regular season play 32-16 with a 15-5 mark in the Patriot League. Lehigh is 23-21 overall and 10-10 in league contests.

Army and Lehigh split the four-game series in 2014.

Army shared the regular season title with Bucknell, its eighth and is in pursuit of its eighth tournament championship.

AROUND THE LEAGUE: Bucknell (25-17-1, 15-5) is the top seed in the Patriot League Tournament and will host fourth-seeded Navy (23-26, 9-11).

The highest remaining seed will host the Patriot League Championship Series beginning May 17.

The winner of the Patriot League Championship Series will earn the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Lafayette (15-26, 5-13) and Holy Cross (13-31, 4-14) did not make the tournament field.

ALL-LEAGUE: Starting pitchers Gunnar Carroll and Nick Dignacco were named to the first team and four other players collected second-team accolades when the Patriot League announced its postseason awards on Tuesday.

Voting is done by the league's head coaches, who cannot vote for their own players.

Carroll and Dignacco, both seniors, were the lone representatives on the 15-player first team. Shortstop Alex Jensen, third baseman Harold Earls, outfielder Jon Crucitti and designated hitter Mark McCants were listed with the second team, giving Army six all-league selections.

Army's six all-league selections are the most since 2012 when seven players gained accolades.

Carroll and Dignacco were among the top pitchers in the league this season and were rewarded with their first all-league selections. Carroll, a right-handed pitcher from Louisa, Va., posted an 8-2 overall record and 4-1 mark in league contests. In five league games, he showed a 1.85 earned run average and allowed just seven earned runs in 34 innings of work with 25 strikeouts and seven walks.

Dignacco, a native of Sharon, Conn., who missed last season due to injury, is 6-2 overall and 3-1 in league games. Against Patriot League foes, he threw 33.1 innings, struck out 33, walked seven and gave up eight earned runs.

While Dignacco, Carroll, Crucitti and Earls were first-time honorees, McCants and Jensen have been selected multiple times.

McCants, a junior from Flower Mound, Texas, was a first-team choice in 2012 and a second-team selection last year. A left-handed hitting designated hitter/outfielder, McCants hit .238 with 40 hits and 28 runs scored. He stroked six doubles, tripled once and hit a home run.

Jensen, a junior shortstop from Charlotte, N.C., was a first-team honoree last year. He is batting .229 this year with 11 doubles, 22 RBI and 29 runs scored.

Crucitti, a senior right fielder from Mooresville, N.C., is a first-time league award winner. Crucitti hit .297 during the regular season with 32 runs scored, 46 hits, five doubles, three triples and 20 RBI.

Earls, a junior third baseman from Cumming, Ga., was also named to the second team. He batted .222, scored 27 runs, collected 37 hits and stole 24 bases.

ARMY-LEHIGH 2014: Army and Lehigh played a four-game series in 2014, it just took a little while to complete.

Army posted a 2-0 win on March 29, then Lehigh won two games 5-4 and 3-0 two days later after some weather-related issues. The series didn't conclude until April 28 when Army posted a 9-7 win to claim a share of the regular season title.

ARMY-LEHIGH PLAYOFFS: Army and Lehigh are meeting in the playoffs for the first time since 2005. Army won a pair of games at Doubleday Field as the top-seed registering 6-2 and 10-1 wins on the way to the championship. Those are the only two playoff meetings between the two schools.

ABOUT THE BLACK KNIGHTS: Army enters the Patriot League playoffs with an overall record of 32-16 after finishing league play 15-5.

Daniel Cortes leads the team with a .323 batting average and has scored 40 runs. Jacob Page is hitting .298 with a team-best 51 hits. Jon Crucitti is batting .297 and has scored a team-high 32 runs. Kris Lindner is batting .284, while Mark McCants has 40 hits and 17 RBI. Patrick Mescher paces the squad with 26 runs batted in, Alex Jensen has doubled 11 times and Harold Earls has 24 stolen bases. Catches Ben Smith and Connor Love have shared duties behind the plate.

Army has had some of the top pitching in the Patriot League this season and is expected to pitch Nick Dignacco, Alex Robinett and Gunnar Carroll this weekend.

Carroll leads the staff with an 8-2 mark that includes a 2.09 earned run average and 49 strikeouts in 77.2 innings of work. Robinett has a team-best 79 strikeouts and a 5-3 mark. Dignacco is 6-2 with a 2.32 ERA.

Johnny Griffith has a team-best five saves, two more than Brian Hapeman.

ABOUT THE MOUNTAIN HAWKS: Lehigh has been idle for final exams since that contest against Army on April 28.

Lehigh is led by Justin Pacchioli who is hitting .376 with 41 hits. Mike Garzillo has scored 24 runs, posted 30 runs batted in and scored 24 times. Joe Abeln is batting .303, with Tim McKay at .301.

Tyler Brong and John Elson have each hit two home runs, accounting for all four Lehigh round trippers.

The Mountain Hawks have a team earned-run average of 4.05. Nick Cassell is 4-3 with a 3.34 and was a second-team all Patriot League choice as a starting pitcher. He has struck out 36 and walked 11 in 32.1 innings of work. Colin Gotzon is also expected to gain a starting assignment. He is 4-1 with a 3.42 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 47.1 innings pitched. Kevin Long (4-3, 3.02), Nick Stephens (2-4, 4.50) and Matt Kozemchak (2-0, 2.33) are other choices.

CLOSE CALLS: Army has played 16 one-run games this season and shows a 9-7 mark in those contests.

FIRST NIGHT GAME: The Army baseball team hosted its first night game, Friday, May 2, against Cincinnati at Doubleday Field at Johnson Stadium.

Lights were added to the historic field in the fall and Friday's game was the first official game. West Point Superintendent Robert L. Caslen threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

The Army baseball team also participated in a ring ceremony, celebrating the success of the 2013 squad which won the Patriot League Championship Series and competed in the NCAA Regionals.  

Baseball was the first organized sport at the U.S. Military Academy and the games originator, Abner Doubleday, is an 1842 West Point graduate.  The Black Knights began formally playing the sport in 1890 and competed against the Riverton Club of Philadelphia.

Doubleday Field hosted its first games in 1909 when contests were first played on its present site. The playing field was named in honor of Major Gen. Abner Doubleday in 1939. The stadium itself was dedicated in 1997 in honor of the family of Robert H. Johnson, a 1921 USMA graduate, whose generosity helped enable the Doubleday Society to give the facility a grand new look.

Since that time, numerous upgrades have been made. A major renovation project that added locker room accommodations and chairback seating was made and a new natural grass playing surface was added in 2006. That multi-million dollar project included the addition of lighted hitting tunnels, sparkling bullpens and a host of dugout improvements.

Prior to the 2012 season, the first-ever press box was assembled at Johnson Stadium as well as a new scoreboard and padded outfield walls.

The latest addition is the massive light towers, allowing for night games to be played. While the lights have been utilized as games have played onto the evening hours, Friday's game was the first that began under the lights.

TV: Once again, the Army baseball team played on national television. CBS Sports Network broadcast the April 26 contest at Navy live to national audience with John Sadak and former major league all-star Danny Graves on the call.

STAR: It wasn't easy, but the Army baseball team won three consecutive one-run games to win the series at Navy and the coveted star that cadets are awarded for the victory.

Navy won the opening game 4-0 and needed to win just one more to clinch the star. If the series is tied, the team that won the first game is considered the star winner. Instead, Army posted 2-1, 1-0 and 5-4 victories in Annapolis.

WINNING AGAINST NAVY: The win by the baseball team allowed Army to win the overall star series with Navy for the first time since 1995-96. Army also won the overall series against Navy, the first time that has happened since 2004-05.

LEADING THE WAY:  Army senior right fielder Jon Crucitti is not only a leader on the baseball team, he also holds a leadership position within the Corps of Cadets.

Cadets at West Point must apply, be nominated, and then interview for leadership positions among their peers before being appointed by senior staff.

Crucitti, an outfielder from Salisbury, N.C., handles responsibilities as the Third Regiment Command Sergeant Major.

He is one of five athletes among the chain of command. Lindsey Danilack, a member of the track and field team, oversees the entire 4,400-member Corps of Cadets as First Captain. Teammates Alexandra Sutherland is the Brigade S4. Linebacker Thomas Holloway leads the Brigade Student Athletic Advisory Council and runner Ian MacPherson is the Fourth Regiment Commander.

FIELDERS CHOICE: Army junior third baseman Harold Earls has been providing an inside look into the Army baseball program with his blog "Fielder's Choice."

Earls has taken fans on roadtrips, shared team traditions and shared exclusive content.

TWEETING AWAY: Fans can stay up-to-date on all things Army baseball by following @Army_Baseball  on Twitter. Interim head coach Matt Reid is also on Twitter @Mattreidva.

For updates on Army Athletics, please follow @ArmyAthletics.

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