The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Baseball splits Saturday double header with Army, drops Sunday game

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Sophomore outfielder Justin Grech (pictured) was a key player in baseball’s split double header on Saturday against Army. (Photo courtesy of GoLeopards)

The baseball team (12-27 overall, 7-8 Patriot League) faced off against Army West Point last weekend in a three-game home series. The Leopards split the doubleheader Saturday but were unable to close the weekend with a victory Sunday. 

“This weekend was definitely one of the weekends you mark on the calendar before the season, because Army’s been running away with the conference every year,” junior infielder Seif Ingram said. “We really worked on making adjustments and tried to come into the game and put our game together finally against a good team.”

The Black Knights began game one with a run in the top of the second, but the Leopards responded with an RBI (runs batted in) sacrifice fly by sophomore outfielder Justin Grech to bring junior outfielder Pete Ciuffreda home in the fourth. 

A home run from freshman outfielder Kaleb Willis helped push the score up to 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth.

“I got on base, I had a double to lead off the inning, and then [Willis] came up and hit a two-run home run right after me,” Ingram said. “That was a big moment in that game because it put us up three-one at that point.”

Army sent the game into extra innings with clutch hitting in the seventh, knotting the score at 3-3. The Black Knights scored two runs in the top of the ninth. Lafayette put runners on first and second in their half, yet a fly-out ended the game with Army ahead, 5-3. 

Despite the loss, Lafayette saw standout performances from Ciuffreda as he went 3-for-3 and Ingram went 3-for-4, each securing one run for the Leopards. Kaleb went 1-for-4 and hit his second career home run. Starting sophomore right-hand pitcher Luke Benneche struck out five batters within his six innings of play. 

“Our pitcher, Luke Benneche, just really pitched well the entire game. That’s a really good lineup you’re facing, and he only held them to one run through six innings,” Ingram said. 

The Maroon and White started game two off strong with a two-run home run from senior catcher Dylan Minghini, giving the Leopards an early lead. Army responded with two runs going into the third inning, tying the game. 

Ciuffreda led off the third inning by being hit by a pitch, and Minghini hit a single to center field moving Ciuffreda to third. Grech then also was hit by a pitch, and with bases loaded freshman infielder Carter Dorighi singled to bring Ciuffreda across the plate and take back the lead. 

All runners were able to advance due to a throwing error from the Black Knight’s pitcher, bringing Minghini home. Grech crossed the plate on Ingram’s RBI groundout, putting the Leopards up 5-2. 

“You get into a rhythm with the team. As a defender, or at least on defense, you get used to the hitters,” Ingram said. “For the most part, the lineup stays the same and you know how to position yourself for certain guys throughout the series.”

Junior infielder Kyle Chmielewski scored Dorighi with an RBI single to left field. Freshman outfielder Easton Brenner then walked to load the bases. Ciuffreda hit an RBI single to right field and gave the Leopards an 8-2 lead heading into the fourth inning. 

Army took two runs back, one in the sixth and one in the seventh. 

Game leaders include Minghini who went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run and Ciuffreda who went 1-for-3 with one run and two RBIs. Starting right-hand pitcher junior Jake Bloss struck out seven batters within his six innings of play. 

Lafayette dropped the rubber match Sunday, falling to Army 15-6. The Black Knights took the lead early and scored nine runs within the first four innings. 

“Limiting the small mistakes is a big thing,” Ingram said. “That’s been a recurring thing for us all season, we’ll make a small mistake and we’ll just let it compound on itself and let the game run away.”

Lafayette was able to score a run thanks to an RBI by sophomore catcher Michael Mallas in the bottom of the sixth. With Mallas on second and sophomore infielder Bo Planeta on third, Grech singled to bring them both across the plate and bring the score to 13-3. 

Both Army and the Leopards scored two runs in the seventh inning. The Maroon and White, however, were able to secure another in the bottom of the ninth to bring the final score to 15-6. 

The team looks forward to hosting Holy Cross for another three-game series this weekend, with a doubleheader Saturday starting at noon as well as the final home game of the season on Sunday at 1 p.m.

“We’re definitely going into the game with good confidence,” Ingram said. “It’s our senior day, so that’ll be fun. It’ll be the last home game for them. I hope it’ll be a good morale boost for us and help us in our standing.”

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Issy Bongiovanni, Staff Sports Writer

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