Army Baseball Suffers 4-2 Loss to Rival Air Force

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Despite earning the original lead, the Army West Point baseball team was unable to hold off rival Air Force on Saturday evening at Shipyard Park and ultimately suffered a 4-3 loss in its second game of the Swig & Swine Classic.

Timely hitting proved to be the difference-maker in the result, as the Black Knights (1-1) left 11 runners on base throughout the course of the night. Army had chances to make a comeback in each of the final two innings, advancing runners into scoring position in both frames, but was unable to take advantage of the opportunities.

The first half of the game was quiet offensively for both sides. The lone run of the opening five innings was scored by Army in the bottom of the first when Hunter Meade came in on an Air Force (2-1) error. Defensively, the Black Knights’ early stretch was highlighted by Cam Cerruto, who caught a pair of runners stealing, and Anthony LoRicco, who struck out five batters in his four-inning start.

After being held scoreless for five frames, the Falcons got to work in the top of the sixth by loading up the bases against relief pitcher Mike Ruggieri, who was in his second inning of work. Ruggieri battled back by recording two outs before Chase Spencer stepped up to the plate and belted out a four-RBI home run that put Air Force on top, 4-1.

In response, Army got a run back in the bottom of the frame when Cerruto’s RBI groundout brought in Nick Manesis, who reached with a one-out triple. Cerruto’s fourth RBI of the weekend trimmed the Falcons advantage down to 4-2.

Over the next few innings, Trevor Finan and Patrick Melampy combined to keep Air Force off the boards while the Black Knights’ offense attempted to stage its comeback. The Cadets came very close to pulling it off in the bottom of the seventh when Kevin Dubrule plated Carter Macias with an RBI groundout, making it a 4-3 ballgame, but it was the closest they got as Air Force was able to hold on down the stretch.

Throughout the course of the game, Army out-hit Air Force 6-5 while its pitching staff 14 Falcons. Ruggieri (0-1), who was tagged with the loss, struck out a career-high five batters as part of the pitching staff’s 14-punchout effort.

“Good ballgame tonight. We didn’t do a good job with situational hitting, but in all other phases of the game we did a good job. We ran the bases, we played defense, we pitched. We just didn’t come up with a big knock. Yesterday, we made them all count and today we didn’t. A lot of positive, but it hurt because it’s a rival and we wanted to win the game,” said Head Coach Jim Foster.

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