EASTON, PA - Patrick Mescher was 3-for-3 with three runs batted in to lead Army to an 8-4 victory in the opening game, and Jacob Page went 3-for-4 with two RBI in a 9-4 nightcap verdict as the Black Knights finished off a four-game sweep of Lafayette by taking both games of a Patriot League doubleheader Sunday afternoon at Kamine Stadium.
The weekend sweep vaults Army (16-16, 7-5 PL) into a tie with Bucknell for second place in the Patriot League standings with just two conference weekends remaining on the schedule. The Black Knights and Bison will meet in a pivotal four-game series next weekend in Lewisburg, PA.
Lafayette (6-30, 3-9 PL) falls to sixth place following this weekend's action. The Leopards trail Lehigh by two games for fifth place and are three games behind Navy for the fourth and final playoff spot. Lafayette will travel to Annapolis, Md., to meet the Midshipmen next weekend, while the other conference series sees Lehigh take on Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.
Mark McCants and Jon Crucitti both added two hits apiece for Army in the first game, and Alex Robinett (5-2) struck out seven in six innings as the Black Knights rallied from a 4-1 deficit. Army took advantage of five Lafayette errors in the opener as five of their eight runs were unearned.
Crucitti was 2-for-3 with three runs scored in the nightcap, and Julian Larimer (1-1) earned the victory on the mound after yielding two runs on five hits over 3.2 innings of work. Army jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the third inning and never looked back en route to the nightcap win.
Army took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first in the opener as the Black Knights pushed across an unearned run. Alex Jensen reached on an error by the shortstop, stole second base and scored when Mescher singled through the left side of the infield.
Lafayette responded in the bottom of the second inning, scoring four runs on four hits and one Army error to assume a 4-1 advantage. Parker Hills' RBI double tied the score, Campbell Lipe's two-run double gave the Leopards a 3-1 lead and Andrew Santomauro's run-scoring double extended the cushion to 4-1.
Army began to chip away at Lafayette's lead in the top of the third with its second unearned run of the contest. Harold Earls walked leading off the inning, advanced to third base on a failed pickoff attempt and scored on Mescher's sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.
Army retook the lead in the fifth, scoring four runs on four hits and two Lafayette errors. McCants, Mescher and Page hit consecutive singles to load the bases, and the shortstop committed two miscues on Grant Van Orden's grounder to allow three runs to score. Van Orden, who motored to third base on the play, scored on Andrew Johnson's RBI single to make it 6-4.
Army padded its lead in the sixth inning with two more unearned runs. McCants and Mescher both drilled RBI doubles to account for the runs, which extended the Black Knights' advantage to 8-4.
Mitch Leeds (1-1) was saddled with the loss for Lafayette after yielding six runs (three earned) on six hits and four walks in 4.1 innings.
The Black Knights grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first in the nightcap when Crucitti singled leading off the game, advanced to second base on Van Orden's sacrifice bunt and scored when Jensen singled to center field.
Army made it 2-0 in the second inning when Page tripled with one out and scored on Johnson's RBI groundout. Army scored four more runs in the top of the third to extend their lead to 6-0. Page's RBI triple was the only hit of the inning, which featured two Lafayette errors and a pair of walks.
Lafayette got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third inning on Andrew Ruck's RBI single. Army got that run back in the top of the fourth when Michael Sands tripled and scored on Earls' sacrifice fly.
Lafayette put two runs on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning on RBI singles by Jackson Kramer and Thomas Dunleavy, trimming Army's lead to 7-3. Scott Kelleher then blasted a solo home run to left field in the seventh inning to make it 7-4.
The Black Knights answered in the top of the eighth as McCants singled with one out and scored on Page's RBI double. Army capped the scoring in the ninth inning on Mescher's RBI single.
Gunnar Carroll fired a pair of scoreless innings to nail down Army's win. Lafayette starter Toby Schwartz (1-6) took the loss for the Leopards. Kelleher went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, and Ruck finished 2-for-5 with an RBI to pace Lafayette offensively.