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2011 Patriot League Semifinals Preview

FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
Center Valley, Pa. — After the most competitive regular-season race in League history, four teams will open up postseason play with semifinal series of the Patriot League Baseball Tournament this weekend.

The matchups pit No. 4 Bucknell at No. 1 Navy and No. 3 Lafayette at No. 2 Army, with each three-game series featuring a doubleheader on Saturday and decisive final game, if necessary, on Sunday afternoon. The winners move on to the Patriot League Championship series at the site of the higher seed on May 23-24 or 24-25.

The defending champion Bison will play as the No. 4 seed for the third time in the past four years, which could be good news after winning the title from that spot in 2008 and 2010. Bucknell is in its fourth straight tournament, while Navy is back in the field for the first time since 2008 and searching for its first League crown since 2002. The teams split four games in Annapolis on April 17-18, with a pair of one-run decisions.

Army also returns to a familiar spot, as the Black Knights are in the postseason as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed for the fifth year in a row. Army will go for its second title in the last three years when it takes on Lafayette, which won its lone crown in 2007. The Leopards are back in the postseason after a one-year hiatus. Army won three of four games at Lafayette during the season, claiming a suspended contest and then sweeping a doubleheader on April 25.

For the first time, each semifinal series will be available through theĀ Patriot League All-Access for a small monthly fee. In addition, live stats and game wrap-ups will be available at www.patriotleague.org throughout the weekend.

Patriot League Notebook

Patriot League Tournament
The 2011 Patriot League Baseball Tournament is a four-team event played over two weekends The semifinals will be held on Saturday and Sunday, with No. 4 Bucknell at No. 1 Navy and No. 3 Lafayette at No. 2 Army. The Patriot League Championship series will be played at the site of the higher seed on May 23-24 or 24-25. The dates are dependent on the Bucknell/Navy series, with Navy hosting on May 23-24 and Bucknell visiting Lafayette or Army on May 24-25. Each series will be a best-of-three, with every contest going the full nine innings. The winner of the Patriot League Tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals.

Navy Finishes on Top of League Standings for First Time Since 2002
After nearly a decade, Navy is back at top spot in the Patriot League standings to close out the regular season. The Mids finished in first place for the ninth time overall and first since 2002 when they won their season finale against Lafayette. Navy has sole possession of the top spot for the first time since 2000 and fourth overall. The Mids make it back to the Patriot League Tournament for the first time since 2008, where they will be the No. 1 seed for the first time since 2002.

Army, Bucknell in Familiar Territory
Both Army and Bucknell continued an impressive run of making the Patriot League Tournament. The Black Knights are in the postseason for the fifth year in a row, and their season-finale win over the Bison kept up their streak of being the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the field in each of those seasons. Bucknell qualified for its fourth-straight Patriot League Tournament and sixth in the past seven years, and will play as the No. 4 seed after winning the League title out of the spot in two of the past three seasons. Lafayette enters the League Tournament for the second time in the past three years.

Can Top Seed Break Through?
Through the first three seasons of the four-team tournament format, the No. 4 seed has defeated the No. 1 each time. Bucknell was involved in each instance, knocking off No. 1 Army in 2008 and 2010 while falling as the No. 1 seed to No. 4 Lafayette in 2009. The No. 2 has fared better at home with wins in 2008 and 2009, though Holy Cross won as the No. 3 last year as both road teams won semifinal series.

Three Go for No. 6
Three schools are tied for the most titles in Patriot League history, but there’s a 75 percent chance that logjam will be broken in 2011. Bucknell, Navy and Army all have five titles to their name as they enter the postseason looking to become the most-crowned team in Patriot League history. Lafayette will try to keep the trio in a tie and win its second overall title after capturing the crown in 2007.

Major Awards, All-League Honors Announced
The major awards, All-Patriot League and Academic All-Patriot League honors were announced on Tuesday. For more information on the major award winners and All-League honorees, go to page four of the baseball release or visit www.patriotleague.org.

Moore, Shribman, Miller Wrapping Up Stellar Seasons, Careers
Army’s Clint Moore, Bucknell’s Doug Shribman and Lafayette’s A.J. Miller head to the Patriot League Tournament after outstanding seasons and trying to conclude equally stellar careers with a title. Moore boasts 181 career RBIs, 24 more than any player in Patriot League history, while he stands second in League annals in career home runs (34), third in doubles (50) and fifth in hits (229). Shribman long ago set the Patriot League career home run record, and is up to 43 for his career and five off his own single-season record with 16 this year. He is also up to 153 career RBIs, third in Patriot League history and just four off the Bucknell record. Miller, who had the best season of the group with the Patriot League Player of the Year award on Tuesday, leads the League in batting average, on-base and slugging percentage and recently tied the Lafayette record for season (12) and career (22) home runs.

Patriot League Tournament Semifinal Series

No. 4 Bucknell Bison (24-26, 10-10) at No. 1 Navy Midshipmen (29-21-1, 12-8)

Tournament History Navy and Bucknell have a long Patriot League Tournament history, with Bucknell holding an 11-5 edge in head-to-head meetings. They last met in the Patriot League Tournament in 2008, when the Bison swept the Mids in the Patriot League Championship series in Annapolis. The Bison also swept the Mids for the League crown in 2001 and 2003 and won two of three over Navy to take the title in 1996, while Navy won two of three over the Bison to claim the Patriot League title in consecutive seasons in 1998 and 1999. Bucknell won the only semifinal game between the schools in 1997.

Regular Season Bucknell and Navy split a competitive four-game series in Annapolis in April 17-18. Ryan Ebner threw a complete-game for a 2-1 Bison win in the opener, while Navy followed with the next two victories before Bucknell took the finale to gain the split.

Bucknell The Bison completed a late push to earn their fourth-straight berth in the Patriot League Tournament by winning three of four games against Army on April 30-May 1…Bucknell had been 4-8 in the Patriot League before winning three of four on its final two weekends…Bucknell dropped the series finale to fall to the No. 4 seed with a 10-10 League record, which could be a good omen as they have won the League title two of the past three seasons from the No. 4 spot…The Bison had six players earn All-Patriot League honors on Tuesday, with Ryan Ebner named Pitcher of the Year…Doug Shribman and Drew Constable joined Ebner as first-team All-Patriot League selections.

Navy The Mids reached a rare plateau as they finished in first place in the Patriot League for the first time since 2002, and in sole possession for the first time since 2000…With that distinction, Navy earns the top seed in the League Tournament for the first time since 2002…The Mids picked up hardware for their strong season on Tuesday with Taylor Cato named Rookie of the Year and Paul Kostacopoulos as Patriot League Coach of the Year…Six Navy student-athletes earned All-Patriot League honors, with reliever Wes Olson and designated hitter Dave Milanes on the first team.

No. 3 Lafayette Leopards (18-28, 10-10) at No. 2 Army Black Knights (19-24, 11-9)

Tournament History Army holds a 4-2 mark against Lafayette in the Patriot League Tournament, with each prior matchup coming in the Championship series. The Black Knights swept the Leopards for the crown in 2004 and 2009, while Lafayette’s lone title came in a sweep over Army in 2007.

Regular Season Behind four home runs and 11 RBIs from Clint Moore, Army swept a doubleheader from Lafayette on April 25 to claim three of four games in Easton in the teams’ regular-season matchups. The Black Knights actually posted all three of their wins that day, claiming victory in the completion of a suspended game to start the afternoon.

Lafayette The Leopards took care of business to make it back to the Patriot League Tournament for the second time in three years by splitting a four-game series at Navy on April 30-May 1…Lafayette concluded its regular-season against Le Moyne last weekend, with A.J. Miller tying school records with his 12th home run this season and 22nd of his career…Rob Froio set the school mark for hits earlier in the year and stands with 228 for his career…Miller and Froio were each first-team All-Patriot League selections on Tuesday, with Miller earning the Player of the Year award.

Army Army makes the Patriot League Tournament for the fifth straight year, earning either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed each time…The Black Knights did see their streak of three straight regular-season titles come to an end…In the four-team format, Army lost each of its semifinal series as the No. 1 seed but won it all as the No. 2 in 2009…The Black Knights had five players named to the All-Patriot League Team on Tuesday, with four on the first team…Zach Price, Steve May, Clint Moore and Ben Koenigsfeld all made the first-team squad, with Moore and Koenigsfeld joining an elite group with All-Patriot League honors in each of their four seasons and four first-team nods apiece…Koenigsfeld was also named the Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year, becoming just the second student-athlete to win the honor twice.