Leopard Baseball Closes out First Patriot League Series of Season
April 10, 2005
EASTON, Pa. (www.lafayette.edu) - Reigning Patriot League champ Army continued to swing a hot bat on Sunday, racking up 32 hits while collecting 10-5 and 10-8 decisions over Lafayette in Patriot League action at the Class of 1978 Stadium. Army's Walker Gorham was the man with the hottest aluminum alloy, registering an 8-for-8 effort with five RBI on the afternoon.
In game one, the Black Knights (18-8, 6-2) took an early 5-1 lead that they would never relinquish. Army scored a run in the first on a sac fly and a run in the third on a Kyle Scogin (4-for-5) single. The one-run innings were bookends for a three-run burst in the second inning. Schuyler Williamson doubled home a run and Gorham followed with a two-run two-bagger that put Army up 3-1.
The Leopards (9-17, 0-4) put a run on the board in the bottom of the second on Matt Skellan's sac fly, but Army struck back with its own to lead 5-1. Lafayette cut the lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning. A double by Kevin Leasure left the door open for Mike Raible's run-scoring double just one foot inside the third-base line.
Trailing 6-2 going into the seventh inning, the Leopards remained within striking distance. Army broke the game wide open with four runs in the top half of the inning. Milan Dinga (4-for-5) doubled home two runs and Army added two-more run-scoring singles to lead 10-2.
Army starter Justin Kashner (5-1) pitched in the seventh inning of the game scheduled for seven. The Leopards did not let him go unharmed. With Raible and Matt Skellan aboard, pinch hitter Nick Benvenuto crushed a ball over the wall in centerfield to run the score to 10-5. Monte Jones came out of the Army bullpen to retire the final three batters of the inning and end the game.
Tom Phelan (0-2), who started the game for the Leopards, took the loss with five runs on nine hits over three innings. Freshman Jason Morytko was strong in relief for the Leopards, tossing 2.1 innings while surrendering one run on one hit. Classmate Will Hanlon tossed the ninth and did not allowed a run.
In game two, it was an offensive affair as it often is in the final game of a four-game Patriot League series. The two teams combined for 29 hits over nine innings. Lafayette had the tying runs aboard twice in the bottom of the ninth, but Army held on for the 10-8 victory.
For the first time in the weekend series, Lafayette held Army scoreless in the top of the first, and the Leopards parlayed that into a 1-0 lead by the end of the inning. Singles by Rob Fioretti (3-for-4) and Leasure and a subsequent ground ball put runners on second and third with one out. A groundout from Frank Cortazar gave Cortazar an RBI and the Leopards a 1-0 lead.
Army responded by pounding out five runs in the visitor half of the second. A Chris Simmons' three-run home run handed Army a 3-1 advantage. The Black Knights added to the margin when the next batter, Cole White, ripped the next offering out of the park. Dinga gave Army a 5-1 lead with an RBI-double.
The Leopards were undaunted by the Army explosion, using five hits and four runs of their own to tie the game 5-5. Dave Dreschsel (single), Fioretti (single) and Cortazar (2-run single) all drove in runs in the rally. The Leopards chased Army starter Dan Cappello (6H, 5R, 1.2 IP) from the game during the inning.
Army returned the favor in the fourth inning, knocking Lafayette starter Brian Cope (0-5) from the game. Gorham and Stone each had RBI-singles and Dinga added a sac fly to put Army up 8-5. Army scored again in the sixth with Gorham (5-for-5) again the impetus behind the offense with an RBI-single.
The Leopards made a game of it in the sixth inning, rallying to score three runs. With bases loaded, the Leopards benefited from a wild pitch that scored a run. Tom Hayes used a groundout and Fioretti a single to bring the Leopards within one run, 9-8, as the sixth came to a close.
Army added a crucial insurance run in the eighth inning when Jeremy Stache singled home a score. On the play, Lafayette leftfielder Leasure cut down a runner at the plate. Army continued to help slow its own rally by attempting to steal third base. Drechsel threw out Stone on the play, and John Fugett struck out the final batter to end the inning.
The Leopards had two separate opportunities to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. Facing Army stopper Dinga, the Leopards led off with an Ian Law single. The next batter, Cortazar, hit a double-play ball to second. Law went into second base with a hard slide and delayed a throw to first. The second base umpire called Law out at second, but singled that Cortazar was safe at first. The home plate umpire, who was positioned behind the plate on the play, overruled the call and awarded Army a double play, citing runner's interference on Law. Despite the controversial call, the Leopards put two more runners on with a strikeout and wild third strike to Benvenuto and a walk to Adam Bucci. Junior Clint Losch came to the plate and ripped a ball up the middle to Dinga who corralled it and retired him for the final out of the game.
Dinga collected his fourth save of the season, while Dan Pluff (2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4K) earned the victory.
Sunday's final game was televised live locally by the Lafayette Sports Network and can be seen on CSTV, College Sports Television, on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Lafayette remains at home, hosting Monmouth on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. at Rahn Field at the Class of 1978 Stadium.
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