Patriot League Tournament Semifinal Preview

FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
Center Valley, Pa. – The 2009 Patriot League Baseball Tournament opens up this weekend, with No. 4 seed Lafayette visiting No. 1 Bucknell and No. 3 Holy Cross going to No. 2 Army. Both series are best-of-three affairs, with a doubleheader set for Saturday and single game, if necessary, on Sunday. Both series will begin at Noon on Saturday, while game three would be set for Noon at Bucknell and 1 p.m. at Army on Sunday. The winners will meet in the Patriot League Championship series on May 16-17.

Bucknell enters the postseason as the top seed after going 13-7 in the Patriot League and sharing the regular-season title with Army. The Bison will attempt to defend last year’s title and win their fifth overall Patriot League crown. Bucknell has three First-Team All-League picks on its roster, including junior outfielder Andrew Brouse, who leads the League in home runs (10) and triples (five), and senior starting pitcher Chris Yamaguchi, who paces the Patriot League in ERA (3.53). The Bison hit .329 in Patriot League games, and led all schools with a 5.51 team ERA.

Lafayette will head to Bucknell after finishing 9-11 in the Patriot League, and 22-26 overall. The 2007 Patriot League champion, the Leopards are in the Tournament for the second time in three years and fourth in the past six seasons. Lafayette shortstop Dan Bierce and starting pitcher Corey Shea were Second-Team All-Patriot League picks. Bierce stands fifth in the Patriot League in batting average, while Shea is second in earned run average. The Leopards won three of four games at Bucknell in the regular season.

Army shared the regular-season crown with Bucknell with a 13-7 League mark, and enters the Tournament on a hot streak. The Black Knights have won 13 of their past 14 games and seven in a row, and won 12 of their last 14 Patriot League contests. Army is led by seven First-Team All-League selections, including sophomore Ben Koenigsfeld who was honored at both starting pitcher and in the outfield. Sophomores Clint Moore, Kevin McKague and Joey Henshaw are all among the top 75 in the country in batting average, and Army’s team batting average of .342 ranks 13th nationally. The Black Knights boast the Patriot League Pitcher of the Year (Koenigsfeld) and Rookie of the Year (Zach Price). Army led all schools with a .359 batting average in Patriot League games. Army is trying for a fifth League title.

Holy Cross makes the Patriot League Tournament in consecutive seasons for the first time in its Patriot League history, and will try to advance to its first Patriot League Championship series. The Crusaders are led by Patriot League Player of the Year Matt Perry, who is eighth in the country with a .439 batting average and hit .486 in Patriot League games. The Crusaders won six of their final eight League contests, and split a four-game series at Army earlier in the season.

Patriot League Tournament Notebook

Patriot League Tournament Matchups

The Patriot League Tournament begins on Saturday with a pair of semifinal series, with No. 4 Lafayette visiting No. 1 Bucknell and No. 3 Holy Cross going to No. 2 Army. The winners will meet in the Patriot League Championship series from May 16-17 at the site of the higher seed. Both semifinal series are best-of-three with a doubleheader on Saturday and single game, if necessary, on Sunday. Each Tournament game will be nine innings long.

Bucknell, Army, Holy Cross and Lafayette Make League Tourney

Bucknell, Army, Holy Cross and Lafayette have qualified for the Patriot League Baseball Tournament, with the Bison earning the top seed in the field. Bucknell and Army each finished their Patriot League campaign with 13-7 records, but the Bison receive the No. 1 seed and the Black Knights are the No. 2 by virtue of Bucknell’s series win against Army on March 28-29. Holy Cross holds an 11-7 record in the League and claims the No. 3 seed. The Crusaders had a make-up doubleheader against Lehigh with a chance to tie the Bison and Black Knights in the standings, but the results of those contests would not have changed the Crusaders’ No. 3 seed and the games were cancelled. Lafayette finished at 9-11 in the Patriot League and held off fifth-place Navy by one game in the standings to claim the No. 4 seed.

Familiar Field for League Tourney

Army, Bucknell and Holy Cross all return to the Patriot League Tournament after playing in the field last year. The Black Knights are in the field for the third straight year and fifth time in the last six seasons, while the Bison made it for the fourth time in the past five years. Lafayette is back in the Tournament for the fourth time in the past six years after missing the field last season.

Going for the Title

The top two seeds in the Patriot League Tournament will each try to join Navy with the most championships in League annals. Army and Bucknell each have four titles to their name, just one behind the five of the Mids. Lafayette goes in search of its second title in three years after winning the crown in 2007, while Holy Cross shoots for its first Patriot League title.

Top Three Rolling Into Tournament

Bucknell, Army and Holy Cross will all enter the Patriot League Tournament after strong play down the stretch in the League season. Bucknell won 10 of its 13 final League games to claim the top seed in the field, while Army claimed 12 of its last 14 contests to tie the Bison in the standings and earn the No. 2 seed. Holy Cross won its last two series to notch six victories in its final eight League games.

All-Time Tournament Records

Bucknell and Army have the best history among teams in the Patriot League Tournament. The Bison are 17-13 all-time while the Black Knights are 11-8, each with four championships. Lafayette has a 3-4 mark and one title, while Holy Cross is 1-4.

Top Hitters Going to West Point

The Patriot League boasts four of the nation’s top 75 hitters, and all will be in action at West Point over the weekend. Holy Cross’ Matt Perry is eighth in the country with a .439 batting average, while Army’s Kevin McKague (36th), Clint Moore (55th) and Joey Henshaw (64th) are among the leaders as well.

All-League and Major Award Winners Announced

The Patriot League announced its Baseball All-League and major award winners this week. Holy Cross junior Matt Perry was named Patriot League Player of the Year, while Bucknell’s Gene Depew was honored as the League’s Coach of the Year. The remaining major awards all went to Army: sophomore Ben Koenigsfeld was selected as Pitcher of the Year, freshman second baseman Zach Price was named Rookie of the Year, and senior relief pitcher Tyler Anderegg was chosen as the League’s Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Koenigsfeld became the first player in Patriot League annals to receive First-Team All-League plaudits at two positions in the same year as he was picked at starting pitcher and in the outfield. Army set a record with seven First-Team All-League picks. The All-League and major awards were voted on by the League’s six head coaches, who could not vote for their own team.

Semifinal Matchups

No. 4 Lafayette (22-26, 9-11 PL) at No. 1 Bucknell (21-23, 13-7 PL)
Sat, May 9 – 12 p.m. (DH) Sun, May 10 – 12 p.m. (If Necessary)
Depew Field – Lewisburg, Pa.

Tournament History Lafayette and Bucknell are in the same Tournament field for just the second time, with the initial instance coming when No. 2 seed Bucknell beat No. 3 Lafayette, 10-6, in the semifinals of the 2006 Tournament. The teams have combined for the last two Patriot League titles, with the Leopards winning it all in 2007 and the Bison taking the crown last year. Lafayette is 3-4 all-time in the Patriot League Tournament with one Championship and a 1-2 mark in semifinal games. The Leopards are playing in a best-of-three semifinal series for the first time. Bucknell has a 17-13 mark with four titles in the Patriot League Tournament, with a 6-4 record in the semifinals. The Bison won the Patriot League Championship as the first No. 4 seed in League annals last season, beating Army in three games in the semifinals and Navy in two games for the Championship.

2009 Season Series Lafayette was the only team to win a Patriot League series against the Bison this season, as the Leopards won three of four games at Depew Field on April 4-5. Lafayette won the first three games of the weekend, sweeping Saturday’s doubleheader with victories of 4-3 and 13-4 and winning the opener on Sunday, 8-4, in eight innings. Bucknell came back to win the series finale, 11-2, to start a stretch of 10 wins in the final 13 Patriot League games. The Bison won three of four games against every other Patriot League opponent.

Lafayette The Leopards are back in the Patriot League Tournament for the second time in the past three years, and fourth in the last six seasons. Lafayette won its only title in its last Championship appearance in 2007. The Leopards had three players named Second-Team All-League selections on Tuesday: starting pitcher Corey Shea, shortstop Daniel Bierce and outfielder Matt Hall. Bierce is fifth in the Patriot League in batting average, while Shea is second with a 4.14 earned run average. Jeremy Atkins and Zach Fritz are fifth and sixth, respectively, in the Patriot League in ERA. Lafayette will try to repeat Bucknell’s performance from last season, when the Bison won the Patriot League Championship as the first No. 4 seed in the field.

Bucknell The Bison earned a share of the Patriot League regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the League Tournament after finishing 13-7 in League action. They shared the regular-season crown for the first time since 2006, and will play as the No. 1 seed in the field for the first time since 2003. Bucknell is also hosting a Patriot League Tournament game for the first time since 2003, as the Bison won each of their series on the road to win the 2008 Patriot League Championship. Bucknell’s four Patriot League titles tie Army for second-most in League annals, behind only the five of Navy. Bucknell Head Coach Gene Depew earned his fourth Patriot League Coach of the Year honor on Wednesday. Depew previously won the award in 1993, 1996 and 2003. He now has the most Coach of the Year honors in League annals. Bucknell tied Army for the overall lead with eight First-Team All-League selections. Senior starting pitcher Chris Yamaguchi, junior outfielder Andrew Brouse and junior catcher B.J. LaRosa were named to the First Team. Dane Grandizio was named to the Second Team for the third straight season, becoming this year’s only three-time All-League honoree. The Bison are trying to become the first repeat champion since Army won the crown in 2004 and 2005.

No. 3 Holy Cross (21-25, 11-7 PL) at No. 2 Army (29-17, 13-7 PL)
Sat, May 9 – 12 p.m. (DH) Sun, May 10 – 1 p.m. (If Necessary)
Johnson Stadium at Doubleday Field – West Point, N.Y.

Tournament History Holy Cross and Army have never faced off in the Patriot League Tournament, and are in the field in the same year for just the second time after each squad lost in the semifinals last season. The Crusaders have never advanced out of the semifinal round, with a 1-4 mark in Tournament appearances in 1999, 2001 and 2008. Holy Cross lost two of three games at Navy in last year’s semifinals. Army has four Patriot League Championships to its name and a 11-8 record in the League Tournament. The Black Knights have a 3-3 record in semifinal games, including losing two of three to Bucknell in last year’s event.

2009 Season Series Holy Cross and Army split their games at West Point during the regular season on April 4-5, with the Crusaders sweeping the Saturday doubleheader and the Black Knights claiming Sunday’s contests. A big day from Patriot League Player of the Year Matt Perry lifted Holy Cross to wins of 11-2 and 10-4 in Saturday’s games, but Patriot League Pitcher of the Year Ben Koenigsfeld had a strong Sunday performance to help the Black Knights to wins of 8-1 and 5-2 to earn the four-game split. The two victories by Army started a stretch of 12 wins in the last 14 Patriot League contests.

Holy Cross The Crusaders are in the Patriot League Tournament field for the second consecutive season, marking the first time they have made it to back-to-back tournaments. Holy Cross previously made the field in 1999 and 2001. The Crusaders will play as the No. 3 seed for the second year in a row after finishing 11-7 in Patriot League action. They had a make-up doubleheader scheduled with Lehigh for an opportunity to move into a first-place tie with Bucknell and Army, but the results of those games would not have effected the Tournament seedings and the contests were postponed. Holy Cross junior third baseman Matt Perry was named Patriot League Player of the Year on Wednesday. Perry leads the Patriot League and is eighth nationally with a .439 batting average, and hit .486 in Patriot League games. He was Holy Cross’ lone First-Team All-League selection, with seniors Dan Seip and Billy Cupelo being named to the Second Team. Holy Cross will face off with Army in a Patriot League Tournament game for the first time as the Crusaders seek their first League title.

Army The Black Knights have won seven consecutive games entering the Patriot League Tournament, as they concluded the regular season with a 4-2 win over NYIT on Wednesday. Army has won 13 of its past 14 contests overall, and claimed victory in 12 of its last 14 Patriot League games after a 1-5 start. Army earns the No. 2 seed in the field after sharing the regular-season crown with Bucknell after a 13-7 Patriot League finish. The Black Knights earned at least a portion of the regular-season title for the fourth time in past six years. Army was honored for its season with a League record seven First-Team All-Patriot League selections, which included: senior relief pitcher Tyler Anderegg, sophomore first baseman Kevin McKague, freshman second baseman Zach Price, sophomore shortstop Clint Moore, sophomore designated hitter Joey Henshaw and sophomore Ben Koenigsfeld, who became the first player in Patriot League history named to the First Team at two different positions in the same season. Koenigsfeld was selected as a First-Team starting pitcher and outfielder, and also won the Patriot League Pitcher of the Year award. Price was named Patriot League Rookie of the Year, while Anderegg was selected as the Patriot League Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Army is 13th in the country in batting average, with McKague, Moore and Henshaw all in the top 75. Army is searching for its fifth Patriot League title, and first since 2005. The Black Knights are 14-4 at home this season.