Lafayette Baseball Now One Win Away From Patriot League Title
May 12, 2007
EASTON, Pa. - Lafayette moved one victory closer to capturing its first Patriot League baseball title with an 8-3 win over Army in game one of the Patriot League Championship Series on Saturday. The best-of-three series will resume on Sunday at 12:05 p.m. at the Class of 1978 Stadium.
The Leopards (31-17) were lucky to have escaped the first inning with a lead, having committed three errors in the top of the first, including two on one play. Senior catcher Dave Drechsel did his part, gunning down a runner trying to steal second base before the normally sure-handed Leopards threw out another runner at home on a ground ball. Army left two runners on base in the inning.
Having had the week off from competition, concerns about slow bats on the Maroon and White side were quickly eased, as Lafayette scored five runs in the first two innings. Chris Luick started the Lafayette rally in the first with a one-out single. Mike Raible tripled him home, his first three-bagger of the season. The Leopards added another run on a throwing error before Drechsel's RBI-single gave Lafayette a 3-0 lead.
Lafayette added two more runs in the second inning. Ryan Roberts, who enjoyed a 3-for-4 day at the plate, led off with a single. A single and a walk loaded the bases for Raible. The senior rightfielder drew a walk to force in Lafayette's fourth run of the game. Kevin Leasure grounded out to the right side to hand Lafayette a 5-0 lead.
In the fourth with two outs in the inning, Army starter Cole White hit Raible with a 1-0 pitch after going up and in with his first offering. The move proved costly, as a walk and a Tom Hayes' double scored Raible for the 6-0 lead.
Army (25-22-1) scored lone runs in the fifth and sixth off Lafayette starter Matt Kamine. Milan Dinga doubled and scored on White's single. In the sixth with the bases loaded and one out, Barnes Connell used a fielder's choice to drive in Army's second run and cut Lafayette's lead to 6-2.
Raible, who finished the day 2-for-3 with four RBI, had his opportunity to exact a measure of revenge in the sixth, while facing reliever Matt Fouch. He lifted a two-strike offering over the leftfield fence just below the scoreboard to give Lafayette an 8-2 lead.
In the seventh inning, White, who remained in the game as the designated hitter, led off the frame with a home run to left field. White's (3-for-5) fourth home of the year prompted Lafayette head coach Joe Kinney to go to the bullpen to relieve Kamine. John Fugett came on and immediately enticed a groundout. He hit the next batter, but struck out another and had Drechsel catch Kyle Stramara straying off first base to end the inning with Lafayette leading 8-3.
Fugett kept the ball on the ground over Army final two at-bats, using six groundouts to retire the Black Knights in order for the victory and the three-inning save. He did not allow a hit in three innings and struck out one in his fourth save of the season. Kamine (7-3) collected the victory, tossing six innings while allowing three runs on nine hits. He struck out four and did not walk a batter. White (7-3) took the loss, surrendering six runs (4 earned) on seven hits. Army used four other pitchers for an inning apiece.
Coming into the day, the top-seeded Leopards did not know who their opponent would be, but watched No. 2 Army beat No. 3 Navy in the elimination game of the Patriot League Tournament. Army scored four runs in the fourth off Navy ace Mitch Harris to secure the 5-3 win.
Lafayette and Army will close out the Patriot League Championship series on Sunday beginning at 12:05 p.m. A Lafayette win in the first game of the doubleheader would award the Leopards the Patriot League title, whereas a loss in that game would force a decisive game three with a Patriot League championship and an NCAA Regional berth on the line.