Army wins 3 of 4 at Navy

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Logan Lee, Joey Henshaw and Kevin McKague combined to limit Navy to two runs over nine innings and J.T. Watkins went 3-for-4 with one run scored and one run batted in as Army registered a 5-2 win Sunday afternoon at Max Bishop Stadium to earn a split of the teams' Patriot League twinbill.

With the win, the Black Knights secured their seventh straight series victory over the Midshipmen. Navy won the first game on Sunday by the score of 4-2, riding a three-run second inning that was fueled by a trio of Army fielding errors.

Army, which secured its seventh consecutive series "star" by virtue of its doubleheader sweep of the Mids on Saturday, has now won 13 of its last 15 games against Navy and 24 of 29 dating back to 2004. The Black Knights have also won 11 of the teams' last 12 meetings in Annapolis.

Lee worked in and out of trouble throughout his effective five-inning stint, allowing at least two base runners during each of his five frames. But Navy scored only twice with both runs coming in the fourth inning. Army had bolted to an early 4-0 lead against Mid starter Wes Olson, scoring three runs on four hits in the second inning and another on two hits in the third.

The Black Knights loaded the bases with no outs against Olson in the second when McKague drew a leadoff walk, Ben Koenigsfeld singled and Watkins beat out a sacrifice bunt for a single. Cody Murtle followed with a sacrifice fly, delivering McKague with Army's first run, and David Darnell and Steve May registered run-scoring singles for a 3-0 Black Knight lead. Koenigsfeld doubled down the right field line with two outs in third and Watkins stroked a clutch, RBI single to center field, stretching Army's lead to 4-0.

Lee, meanwile, stranded two Navy runners on base in the first, used a double-play to work out of a mini-jam in the second, minimized damage by leaving two Midshipmen on base during Navy's two-run third and stranded two more runners on base in the fourth and fifth frames before departing with a 4-2 lead after five innings of play. In all, the Mids placed 12 runners on base across the first five innings, but managed just two runs.

Henshaw relieved Lee starting the sixth and was nearly untouchable as the hard-throwing southpaw permitted just one base hit and two base runners over three innings of shutout work. He struck out one and did not walk a batter.

The Black Knights added an important insurance run against Navy reliever Joel Rinehart in the eighth, once again striking with two outs and no one on base. Murtle began the attack with a single to left, Darnell walked and Zach Price smacked a key single to left, plating Murtle to increase Army's lead to 5-2.

McKague worked out of a mini-jam in the ninth, sandwiching three strikeouts around a pair of Navy singles to earn his sixth save of the season with a shutout inning of relief. McKague struck out Matthew Curley to begin the inning, then yielded a single to Alex Azor. After fanning Michael Speciale, Mike Hoosier single to left, placing the potential tying run at the plate. But McKague struck out Steven Soares on three pitches to end the game.

Lee (2-1) registered his second victory in three decisions for the Black Knights. The junior left-hander allowed two runs on seven hits over five frames. He struck out four and walked four. Olson (2-3) shouldered the loss for Navy, yielding four runs on nine hits over six innings. He struck out three and walked two.

Price, Henshaw and Koenigsfeld joined Watkins in registering multi-hit games, stroking two safeties apiece in the second game as Army outhit Navy 12-10.

Shoddy Army fielding led to Navy's only series win in the seven-inning opener. The Mids managed just one base hit during their decisive three-run second inning as the Black Knights committed fielding errors on three consecutive plays to spur the uprising.

Jonathan Berkowitz doubled to right field off Army starter Kirk Porter to begin the stanza and Soares followed with a walk. When Porter fielded Mike Guadignini's sacrifice bunt and fired wildly to third base in an attempt to nail the lead runner, Berkowitz scored with Navy's first run. With runners at first and second, Navy attempted another sacrifice. Once again Porter fielded the bunt and would have recorded the out at third base, but threw wildly for his second error of the inning, placing runners at second third.

Dylan Wheeler's sharp grounder was mishandled by Army third baseman Steve May for the Black Knights third error of the inning, allowing Soares to score. Guadignini scampered home with Navy's third run when Porter induced Andrew Hahn to rap into a double-play.

Army scored its first run against Navy starter Ben Nelson in the fifth as Watkins slapped an RBI single to right, drawing the Black Knights to within 3-1.

The score remained 3-1 until Craig Veech's solo home run with two outs in the sixth against Army reliever Manny Fernandez provided the Mids with an important insurance run.

After Nelson retired the first two batters he faced in the seventh, Army rallied to place the potential tying runs on base. Watkins, Murtle and Darnell strung together consecutive singles to move the Black Knights to within 4-2. But Nelson closed out the Navy win by retiring Price on a sharp grounout to first base to end the game.

Watkins, who went 5-for-7 with two runs scored and two runs batted in on the day, collected two of Army's six hits in the nightcap.

Nelson (4-2) registered the victory on the mound for Navy (21-13, 3-5 Patriot), yielding two runs on six hits over seven solid innings, while Porter (1-4) suffered the loss for Army. Porter allowed three runs (1 earned) on five hits over 3.1 innings of work.

With Sunday's split, Army (15-11, 6-2 Patriot) fell into a first-place tie with Lehigh atop the Patriot League standings. The Mountain Hawks completed a four game weekend sweep of arch-rival Lafayette with a pair of victories on Sunday.

The Black Knights return to action on Wednesday when they host Iona in a non-league tilt. First pitch at Doubleday Field is slated for 3:30 p.m. Army will host Lehigh in a first-place showdown in the Patriot League next weekend.
Score by Innings                  R  H  E
ARMY................ 000 010 1 -  2  6  4
NAVY................ 030 001 X -  4  7  2

Score by Innings                    R  H  E
ARMY................ 031 000 010 -  5 12  2
NAVY................ 002 000 000 -  2 10  0

Score by Innings                  R  H  E
ARMY................ 001 151 0 -  8 10  1
NAVY................ 000 400 2 -  6  6  5

Score by Innings                    R  H  E
ARMY................ 040 012 112 - 11 15  0
NAVY................ 000 300 000 -  3 11  2
------------------------------------------- Top Stories