West Point Tops Lafayette in Series Finale

WEST POINT – A season-best 18-hit effort powered the Army West Point baseball team past Lafayette, 9-3, in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader to close out its first Patriot League series of the 2016 season from Doubleday Field.

The Black Knights (10-17, 1-3 PL) responded after dropping game one of the twin bill, 11-2 after committing six errors.

“The basic message between games was that we wanted to come out and rise to the challenge and respond,” said head coach Matt Reid. “It was a lot like after the second Seton Hall game when the guys came out and played one of their best games of the year in that third game.”

Daniel Burggraaf settled into the game early, retiring the Leopards in order after allowing a leadoff walk. The Belfair, Wash., native retired the Leopards (9-15, 3-1 PL) in order the following inning with a trio of strikeouts. On the day, the freshman tossed a solid six innings, allowing two unearned runs on seven scattered hits while striking out eight without issuing a free pass.

“Something that we really focus on in practice is keeping the ball down and hitting our spots, and I think that’s something I was able to do really well today,” said Burggraaf. “One thing we keep track of on our charts is first strike pitches. That’s one of the things I focus on most, along with getting the first two out of three strikes in an at-bat. I did pretty well with those today, and that helped me get ahead which allowed me to work my pitches and throw whatever I wanted.”

The bats were awake to start game two as the Black Knights acquired three hits in the home half of the opening frame. Second baseman Josh White led off with a single, and was brought in by Jon Rosoff three batters later. Sophomore Keegan Vega followed Rosoff by contributing a single to the offensive effort.

A couple more hits would await Army as three consecutive Cadets would reach safely in the second inning. Trey Martin started the rally with a one-out single to left field. Right fielder David Monge followed with a walk before White earned his second knock of the game. A sacrifice fly by Justin Reece plated Martin to increase the lead to 2-0.

Burggraaf found himself in a bit of trouble in the fourth inning after seeing his consecutive batters retired streak end at 10. A one-out rally started after Steven Cohen reached base on an error. A couple of bloop singles followed to load the bases for the Leopards. A key strikeout brought the second out of the inning, but a two-run single by Drew Aherne found its way past a diving Martin to bring the game even at two apiece.

Army’s response would come quickly as White blasted a 3-1 fastball over the left field fence for his second home run of the season.

“Especially in game two, my approach was to be more aggressive at the plate and making sure I was swinging at good pitches,” remarked White.

Lafayette was in position to get back on the board the following inning. Michael Coniglio stole second after a one-out single, and was looking to score when the following hitter slapped another single. Reid inserted Greg Carter into the game in right field to start the fifth inning, and the move paid off as the Towson, Md., native gunned down Coniglio at the plate by a couple steps to preserve the lead.

“Greg making that throw home from right was a big out,” Burggraaf commented. “If that run scores, the game is tied and it’s a whole new ballgame.”

Army’s hit parade continued in the home half of the inning as Vega and Stu Schley strung together consecutive hits. Schley’s double moved the two Cadets into scoring position, but Ari Kaufman was able to get out of trouble with a pair of strikeouts.

Jacob Carte entered the game for the Black Knights in the top of the seventh, relieving Burggraaf after he eclipsed the 100-pitch plateau. The Charlotte, N.C., native picked up where Burggraaf left off by setting down the Leopards in order.

A much-needed insurance run was on tap the following inning for Army as Rosoff welcomed Connor Jones to the game by reaching on a leadoff single. He would score three batters later as Jacob Page shot the ball through the hot corner to increase the lead to 4-2.

Lafayette looked to strike in the eighth after loading the bases with no outs. Carte was able to recompose, however, inducing a crucial 4-6-3 double play before ending the frame with a strikeout.

An offensive explosion by the Black Knights followed as they scored five runs on six hits, highlighted by a bases-clearing, three-run triple to deep right center by Rosoff. 

“It was huge to get this final win,” added White. “It’s not how we wanted to play the weekend out, but hopefully getting the win here carries us into next week and we’ll have a good week of practice leading up to Bucknell.”

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