Baseball: Wake Forest/ Dayton Recap

There's a saying in baseball, that if you can do it once, it's in there…then it's just a matter of doing it all the time. As a team over the three games, we hit .333, pitched to a 2.08 ERA, hit 6 dingers, scored 21 runs and held the opponents to a .240 BAA (Batting Average Against). There aren't going to be many weekends where you put up those kinds of numbers and don't dominate opponents.

As much as Army wanted to come away 3-0, and probably should have, realistically, we split vs. a decent ACC squad and beat the projected A10 champion like a rented mule. We played great, then poor, then ok.

Versus Dayton, we hit on all cylinders offensively. We didn't look this good at the dish until sometime in the Florida trip last year, the fourth week of the season. At times you could tell the adrenaline got the better of the patience, with players out in front, but 14 runs on 16 hits with 4 bombs speaks for itself. Henshaw and Fouch were both very good. Henshaw was in such a groove, he was bouncing on his toes while standing on the rubber, chomping at the bit, waiting for the batter to enter the box between pitches.

There wasn't much from the second end of the split doubleheader versus Wake that you could take away as positive with the exception of pitching. Porter didn't have his location early but then settled in nicely only allowing 4 hits over 5 innings with the longest a double. Logan Lee, the sophomore lefty looked very good in relief. In talking with players afterwards, Army was emotionally and physically spent from the first game, and it showed. Wake threw a junkball pitcher that was 82-84 mph and we never adjusted at the plate. Those are the kinds of things that will be overcome with more reps and playing time.

Game three vs. Wake turned into a much closer game. We relied on timely hitting, overcoming some adversity, rising to the occasion in the field and making a pitch when we had to. Although the obvious star to the game was Kevin McKague, he wasn't alone. McKague moved over to third base to fill in for Steve May, who injured his shoulder after his first at bat of the season, when sliding into second base. All "Kags" did was play flawlessly in the field, hit 2 homeruns with 3 RBI's and then come in and close the game in the ninth on 7 pitches throwing absolute smoke.

The other standout of that game was senior pitcher Steve Cummings. Coming in with 1 down in the sixth, Cummings absolutely shut the door on a Wake team that was beginning to think it could climb back into the contest. He threw 2.2 innings and struck out 4 while only allowing 2 harmless singles.

Army had some uncharacteristic gaffs over the weekend also. Although we stole 6 of 8 bases on the weekend, we ran ourselves out of innings on several occasions and were picked off several times. These are real rally killers that a little seasoning will quickly sharpen. In the fielding department, the outfield was stellar while the infield, with the exception of Zach Price, had its issues at times. All American Clint Moore made 5 errors on the weekend after making only 7 all last season. Last season Moore started out in a hitting slump and came on to finish the season a whisker short of .400. I would expect the fielding to follow that suit, where he will be back into All American form in short order. The ground was hard and grass was short, meaning ground balls were like bouncing missiles. Price took a number of hard shots off his chest and came up firing. Price looks to have improved his defensive game measurably.

Overall, our pitching was very encouraging. One sign of it being early season, was our pitchers inability to shake off a little adversity. Errors, bad hops and seeing eye singles caused three of our studs to lose focus and immediately afterwards get tagged for some runs. After a couple of series, this should be as much a non-issue as it always has been, especially considering how veteran these players are. As reported here last week, JT Watkins was given the opportunity to call pitches without coach interaction. All went well in game one, but coaches took back control of calling pitches in game 2 when it was obvious that he and Porter were having trouble getting on the same page. I would expect the young sophomore to get a chance at calling the games again sometime in Florida during the Spring Break Trip.

Senior reliever Chris Simpkins also pulled relief duty over the weekend and shined. Having thrown only 5.2 innings over the past three seasons, there was no expectation of Simpkins being a factor in this season either. That quickly changed as the side slinging senior came out with new found velocity and threw strikes. Army teammates report that Simpkins is much stronger this year and worked tremendously hard in the offseason. If what we saw Friday night, is a sign of things to come, Simpkins will write his own swan song in his final season, because he's going to be a factor in any Black Knights run.

As of right now, I don't see any way we get the UMBC series in this coming weekend, with snow still on the ground there. The Army coaches have been busy trying to contact southern schools looking for an opportunity to travel there next weekend in hopes of playing a three team round robin. Although things are looking grim for that possibility, lets cross our fingers. Our guys getting another full weekend of reps would certainly help us.

GO ARMY!

BC

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