Patriot League Semifinal Preview

FROM PATRIOT LEAGUE RELEASE

Matt Perry Holy Cross Center Valley, Pa. – Top-seeded Army will go for its second consecutive championship with No. 2 Lehigh, No. 3 Holy Cross and No. 4 Bucknell all vying to dethrone the Black Knights in the Patriot League Baseball Tournament starting this weekend. No. 4 Bucknell is at No. 1 Army with No. 3 Holy Cross at No. 2 Lehigh in the semifinal series, with a doubleheader on Saturday and game three, if necessary, on Sunday.

For the third year in a row, the Patriot League Baseball Tournament includes four teams and will be played over two weekends. The top two seeds host the best-of-three semifinals, with the highest remaining seed at home for next week’s Championship series. Every game in the Tournament is nine innings long. The visiting team will have the last at-bat in game two of every series.

Each semifinal series is a rematch of a four-game set that concluded the regular season on May 1-2. Army won three of four at home against Bucknell, though the Bison’s lone win did earn them a berth in the Tournament. Lehigh also took three of four at home against Holy Cross, earning the No. 2 seed and homefield advantage in the semifinals with the series win.

Since the Tournament format moved to four teams in 2008, the No. 4 seed has knocked off the No. 1 each time, including Bucknell winning at Army on its way to the 2008 title. The Bison lost in the first round as the No. 1 seed to Lafayette last year. Similarly, the No. 2 seed has beaten the No. 3 in a semifinal series in each of the past two years, with Holy Cross falling as the No. 3 both times. Every semifinal series in the past two years has gone to a third game.

The Bucknell/Army series will produce a winner that is used to success in the League Tournament. The defending champion Black Knights have won five Patriot League titles, tied with Navy for the most all-time, and have a 15-9 record in the Patriot League Tournament. They are in their 10th Patriot League Tournament, and have played in the championship round seven times. Bucknell is 17-14 in the Patriot League Tournament, winning four titles in eight appearances in the championship round. The Bison are playing in their 12th Patriot League Tournament.

While Holy Cross is playing in its third straight Patriot League Tournament and fifth overall, the Crusaders have never advanced to the Championship series. Lehigh is making its first appearance in the postseason since winning its lone Patriot League title in 2006. The Mountain Hawks are playing in their seventh Patriot League Tournament, also advancing to the Championship in 2002 and 2005.

More information, including links to coverage and postgame recaps of each series, is available at the Patriot League Baseball Championship page. In addition, live coverage will be available through the Patriot League Gameday Blog and Twitter page!

Patriot League Notebook

Patriot League Tournament Field Set
The Patriot League Baseball Tournament semifinal matchups this weekend will present rematches of series on the final weekend as No. 4 Bucknell visits No. 1 Army and No. 3 Holy Cross is at No. 2 Lehigh. The Black Knights had already secured their place as the top overall seed in the field coming into the last weekend, and were joined by Lehigh, Holy Cross and Bucknell. The Mountain Hawks and Crusaders each earned their berth on May 1, while Lehigh clinched the No. 2 seed with a 5-2 win over Holy Cross in the opener of the next day’s doubleheader. Lehigh won three of four in the weekend series. The final spot in the field was up for grabs entering the last day, with Bucknell needing a victory over Army to have a chance to clinch the spot. That win came in the opener, as junior Dylan Seeley threw a two-hit complete-game shutout and Doug Shribman homered in a 1-0 triumph. Army won the nightcap and took three of four games in the series. The semifinals are best-of-three matchups with a doubleheader on Saturday and a single game, if necessary, on Sunday. The winners move on to the Patriot League Championship series at the site of the higher seed on May 22-23.

Outstanding Year in West Point
Army capped an outstanding regular season by winning three of four games from Bucknell in the final Patriot League weekend. The Black Knights earned their sixth regular-season crown since the Patriot League went to a one-division format in 1995, and third consecutive regular-season title. They clinched the outright title for the fifth time, adding to previous instances in 1997, 2004, 2005 and 2008. Army’s 16-4 Patriot League record and four-game advantage in the standings were each the best totals since Lafayette went 17-3 and won by four and a half games in 2007. The Black Knights are in the Patriot League Tournament for the fourth year in a row, and will enjoy home-field advantage at Doubleday Field where they are 14-3 this season. Army won every Patriot League series it played this year, taking three of four games four times and sweeping Lehigh.

Impressive Turnaround in Bethlehem
Picked to finish sixth in the preseason poll, Lehigh finished off its best season since 2006 by winning three of four games against Holy Cross to take the No. 2 seed in the League Tournament. The Mountain Hawks are in the postseason for the first time since winning the League title in 2006. Lehigh had only won a total of 13 League games in the past three years before going 12-8 this season. It has an 11-3 home record, and went 7-1 at home against League foes.

Three in a Row For Crusaders, Bison
Holy Cross and Bucknell have each advanced to the Patriot League Tournament for the third straight season. The Crusaders are the No. 3 seed for the third year in a row, and will look for their first Patriot League title. The Bison are the No. 4 seed for the second time in the past three years, which could be good news after winning the title from the No. 4 spot in 2008.

Chasing Records
Bucknell has upped its total to 55 home runs on the season, just two away from Army’s League record set last year. Andrew Brouse has matched a Patriot League single-season record with 14 home runs, tying the mark set by Bucknell’s Frank Fresconi in 2000. Brouse is just one away from the Patriot League career mark of 28 held by Army’s Cole White (2005-08) and Lehigh’s Jesse Novalis (2001-04). Doug Shribman has 13 home runs, tied for third in a single season. Army’s Kevin McKague has a Patriot League single-season record 12 saves this season. Holy Cross’ Nick Ciardiello and Steve Tkowski are each one off the single-season doubles record.

All-League, Major Awards Announced
The 2010 All-Patriot League Baseball Team and Major Awards were handed out earlier in the week, with the individual honors going to: Bucknell senior outfielder Andrew Brouse (Player of the Year), Army senior pitcher Matt Fouch (Pitcher of the Year), Holy Cross freshman catcher Stephen Wadsworth (Rookie of the Year) and Lehigh’s Sean Leary (Coach of the Year). For the full list of honors, see the sidebar on page two of the baseball release or go here

Semifinal Matchups

No. 4 Bucknell (21-31, 8-12 PL) at No. 1 Army (27-15, 16-4 PL)
Games 1 and 2: Saturday, 12 p.m. (DH)
Game 3 (If Necessary): Sunday, 1 p.m.

2010 Season Series On the last weekend of Patriot League play, Army sealed the regular-season title by winning three of four games over the Bison in West Point. The Black Knights swept Saturday’s doubleheader, 4-0 and 5-3, and won the finale, 3-2. Bucknell’s lone win was a big one, as Dylan Seeley’s complete-game shutout gave the Bison a 1-0 win in Sunday’s opener and a spot in the Patriot League Tournament.

Tournament History The teams are even at 4-4 in Patriot League Tournament games. Army won two out of three in a Championship series at home in 1997, while the Bison did the same in a semifinal at West Point two years ago. Bucknell won a single semifinal game in 1998, while Army did so in 2000. Bucknell is 17-14 in the Patriot League Tournament and 7-5 in the semis, while Army is 15-9 overall and 5-4 in the semis.

Bucknell Needing a victory on the final day of the season to make the Patriot League Tournament, Doug Shribman homered and Dylan Seeley pitched a complete-game shutout to lift Bucknell over Army, 1-0. The Bison clinched the No. 4 seed in the field and will be back to West Point to face the Black Knights in the Tournament semifinals this weekend. Bucknell won the identical matchup in 2008 on its way to the League Championship. Bucknell is in the Patriot League Tournament for the third year in a row.

Army Already having clinched the top seed in the Patriot League Tournament, Army locked up the outright Patriot League regular-season title by winning three of four games from Bucknell on May 1-2. Since the Patriot League went to a one-division format in 1995, the Black Knights have captured outright regular-season titles in 1997, 2004, 2005 and 2008 in addition to this year, and also shared the crown a year ago as they earned a third straight regular-season title. Army is 14-3 for the season and 10-2 against Patriot League foes at home. The Black Knights won all of their Patriot League series, sweeping Lehigh and winning three of four from each of the other teams in the League. Army is into the Patriot League Tournament for the fourth year in a row.

Live Stats

No. 3 Holy Cross (23-23, 10-10 PL) at No. 2 Lehigh (22-25, 12-8 PL)
Games 1 and 2: Saturday, 12 p.m. (DH) Game 3 (If Necessary): Sunday, 12 p.m.

2010 Season Series With the No. 2 seed and home-field advantage in the semifinal round at stake on the final Patriot League weekend in Bethlehem, Lehigh swept Holy Cross by identical 4-3 scores on Saturday and won Sunday’s opener, 5-2, to claim the hosting duties for this weekend’s series. The Crusaders won the series finale, 14-6.

Tournament History Not only are Holy Cross and Lehigh facing off for the first time in the Patriot League Tournament, they are in the field in the same season for the first time. Holy Cross is 2-6 in the League Tournament, getting knocked out in the semifinals in its four previous appearances. Lehigh has a 4-7 overall mark, and 2-3 in the semis.

Holy Cross The Crusaders advanced to the Patriot League Tournament for the third straight season, but were unable to lock up home field in the semifinal round as they dropped three of four games at Lehigh on May 1-2. Holy Cross earns the No. 3 seed in the Patriot League Tournament for the third year in a row. It has lost in the semifinals in a three-game series in each of the past two seasons.

Lehigh The Mountain Hawks made it into the Patriot League Tournament for the first time since 2006, and earned the No. 2 seed and home-field advantage in the semifinals by winning three of four from Holy Cross on May 1-2. Lehigh took the first three games of the series, coming back from deficits for identical 4-3 wins in Saturday’s doubleheader. The Mountain Hawks were predicted to finish sixth in the preseason coaches poll.

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