Patriot League Tournament Begins at Army
May 11, 2012
EASTON, Pa. - The No. 4-seeded Lafayette baseball team opens Patriot League Tournament action this weekend at top-seeded Army. The best-of-three semifinal series begins with a doubleheader on Saturday, May 12 at noon. If the Leopards and Black Knights split the twin bill, the deciding game will be held on Sunday, May 13 at 1 p.m.
Lafayette finished the regular season in fourth place at 7-13 in Patriot League play. The Leopards split series at both Lehigh and Holy Cross and wrapped up the league season by taking three of four games from Bucknell at Kamine Stadium. Army claimed the league's regular season title at 18-2. The Black Knights swept their first four league series of the spring and concluded the regular season with a split at Holy Cross.
Senior co-captain Bobby Fargnoli is Lafayette's leader (among NCAA qualifiers) with a .264 batting average and 25 runs batted in. Andrew Santomauro, the Leopards' sophomore centerfielder, owns the team highs in hits (49), runs (28), slugging percentage (.376), triples (4), total bases (70) and stolen bases (10). Fargnoli and Santomauro share the team best with 10 doubles apiece.
John Gentile, a right-hander senior co-captain, has been solid on the mound as the Leopards' series-opening starter throughout the league slate. Despite a deceptive 1-10 record, Gentile has allowed three earned runs or fewer in his last eight starts. Most notably, he took the hard-luck loss in his start at Army on April 14. Gentile tossed a complete-game two hitter, with an unearned run proving decisive in a 1-0 win for the Black Knights.
A trio of seniors anchors the Lafayette bullpen. Chris Boyce, Sean McGrath and co-captain Jeff Snell have combined for four victories and 10 saves this spring. Boyce, an Academic All-Patriot League selection, boasts a team-best 3.09 earned run average and leads all Patriot League relievers with 26 appearances. The southpaw McGrath leads the team with 41 strikeouts, and Snell's six saves this spring have propelled him into fifth place in Patriot League history with 18 career saves.
The Leopards were represented on the All-Patriot League squad by Second Team honoree junior Kevin Casey. Casey, who appeared in 31 games as Lafayette's second baseman during an injury-hampered season, hit .330 with three home runs and 17 RBI.
Army swept the Patriot League postseason awards. Kevin McKague (.365 batting average, 5 HR, 41 RBI) was named Player of the Year, Chris Rowley (10-0, 1.26 ERA, 0.72 WHIP) took home Pitcher of the Year, Harold Earls (.348 batting average, 19 RBI, 19 SB) claimed Rookie of the Year and skipper Joe Sottolano was selected by his peers as Coach of the Year. Seven Black Knights earned All-Patriot League honors, including four First Team picks.
Last spring was the first time in four seasons of a four-team Patriot League Tournament that the No. 1 seed defeated the fourth seed in the semifinal round. The No. 4 seed (Bucknell in 2008 and 2010) has won the Patriot League Championship twice under the current format.
Including this season, the Leopards have qualified for seven of the 18 Patriot League Tournaments - all during Joe Kinney's 13-year tenure as head coach. Lafayette won the league crown in 2007 and advanced to the Championship Series in 2004 and 2009. Prior to the last two campaigns, the Leopards had only once qualified for consecutive tournament berths (2006 and 2007).
The winner of the Lafayette-Army series will advance to the Patriot League Championship Series to meet the winner of the No. 3 Navy and No. 2 Holy Cross semifinal being held this weekend in Worcester. The Championship Series, which follows the same best-of-three format as the semifinal round, will be held on May 19-20. As the No. 4 seed, the Leopards would be the road team regardless of the matchup.
All Patriot League Tournament action is available live on GoLeopards.com via Patriot League All-Access. Additionally, fans can follow live Twitter updates during every Lafayette postseason game @GoLeopards.