WORCESTER, Mass. – Army game one starting pitcher Chris Rowley threw a complete game, 148-pitch performance to help lead the Black Knights to their second consecutive Patriot League Championship title with a 9-4 and 5-4 at Fitton Field on Sunday afternoon. Rowley was named the Tournament MVP as Holy Cross seniors, John Colella (Herndon, Va.) and Patrick Puentes (East Greenbush, N.Y), and sophomore Donny Murray (Walpole, Mass.) were named to the All-Tournament team.
With the losses, Holy Cross concludes its season at 28-25, while the Black Knights advance to the NCAA regional tournament with a 29-21 record.
The Black Knights took an early 3-0 lead after the top of the first inning. In the bottom of the frame, the Crusaders answered with two scores to cut the deficit to 3-2. Sophomore Evan Ocello (Camarillo, Calif.) and junior Andrew Barry (Puyallup, Wash.) hit back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second. Puentes grounded out to first and advanced the runners. Senior Jordan Enos (Stockton, Calif.) followed with a ground out to the shortstop, which scored Ocello for the first Crusader run. Junior Mike Ahmed (East Longmeadow, Mass.) singled to the shortstop scoring Barry to make the score 3-2 in favor of Army.
After five scoreless innings by both teams, the Black Knights were able to tack on five runs in the top of the seventh to give them an 8-2 lead. In the bottom of the eighth, Barry led with a single through the right side and Puentes singled to advance him to second. Enos grounded into a double play the next at bat, but Barry reached third on the play. Ahmed singled to third base and scored Barry to make the score 8-3. However ,with two outs in the inning, the Crusaders could not score any more runs. The Black Knights struck again in the ninth inning with the final run of the game to make the score 9-3.
Holy Cross senior Tom Marra (Sea Cliff, N.Y.) picked up the loss to end his season at 4-5. Marra pitched six innings allowing three runs (two earned) and five hits. Rowley pitched a complete game for Army in earning his seventh consecutive victory (9-3). He allowed four earned runs and 11 hits while throwing 148 pitches.
Barry and Puentes each went 3-for-5 while Ocello and Ahmed had two hits apiece. Both teams each had 11 hits in the contest however the Holy Cross defense committed five miscues which resulted in five unearned runs.
In the second game Army batted as the home team and scored first in the bottom of the opening frame to make the score 1-0. In the top of the third with two outs, Ahmed reached on an error by the shortstop and stole second base. Cipolla doubled to left center and scored Ahmed unearned to tie the game at one. Army replied with a run in the bottom of the third to again take a one run lead.
In the top of the fifth inning with one out Ahmed reached first on a fielder's choice. Army walked Cipolla to put runners on first and second then hit senior Stephen Wadsworth (Wayland, Mass.) with a pitch to load the bases. During the next at bat, Army walked in freshman Bobby Indeglia (North Kingstown, R.I.) to allow for Ahmed to reach home and make the score 2-2. Army came back with two runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 4-2 lead.
With two outs in the top of the sixth, Puentes singled to left center and advanced to second when Enos was hit by a pitch. Army then walked Ahmed to load the bases. Cipolla singled off the pitcher to score Puentes and bring the Crusaders within one run. Wadsworth was walked during the next at bat to tie the game at four. Army threatened to add to their lead in the bottom of the sixth as they had the bases loaded. The Crusader defense replied with a double play from Ahmed to Wadsworth to Enos to get out the runners at home and first and end the inning.
In the bottom of the ninth inning Army's Harold Earls reached on a bunt single and stole second base during the next at bat. Earls stole third on the second out of the inning to put himself ninety feet away from the win. Mark McCants lined a single down the left field line to walk off with the victory for the Black Knights.
Holy Cross' Colella was charged with the loss (2-4) as he allowed one run on two hits in 3.2 innings pitched. He struck out four batters in the outing. Army's Brian Hapeman earned the victory (2-1) as he did not allow any runs in his 3.1 innings pitched.
Cipolla went 2-for-4 with two RBIs as Army outhit Holy Cross 8-7.
Holy Cross finished this season with a 28-25 record and claimed its first ever Patriot League regular-season title with a 15-5 mark in league play. The Crusaders placed 10 players between the Patriot League's All-Tournament and All-League teams this season. They also claimed four of the five major Patriot League awards. The 12-member senior class won 111 games in their careers as a class, breaking the previous record.