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Army Baseball Takes Star in Series with Navy

WEST POINT, N.Y. – For the first time since 2019, the Army West Point baseball team secured the Star Series, presented by USAA, by sweeping Navy in a Saturday afternoon doubleheader at Johnson Stadium.
The Black Knights defeated the Midshipmen 9-3 behind Connelly Early's complete game in the first contest before Sam Ruta's two home runs helped the team close out the day with a 9-1 victory.
Army 9, Navy 3 (7 inn.)
The Black Knights scored in all seven innings to defeat the Midshipmen in the first game of the doubleheader. Each Cadet in the lineup contributed a hit, with Ruta, Kevin Dubrule and Ross Friedrick tallying a game-high three knocks apiece.
On the bump, Early tied his career high with seven punchouts in his first complete game of the season. The southpaw scattered five hits and issued just one walk, using 93 pitches to go the distance.
The bats got going early for the home team, as Army raced out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning behind RBI singles off the bats of Nick Manesis, Cam Cerruto and Derek Berg.
Over the next three frames, the Black Knights stretched their lead to 6-0. Cerruto highlighted the scoring spree with his fourth home run of the year, which he sent over the left field wall in the bottom of the third.
Early held the Midshipmen at bay through the majority of the game, and at one point retired 11-straight batters. After striking out the side in the fourth, he gave up a solo shot in the top of the fifth that trimmed the Cadets' edge down to 6-1.
Navy's home run was inconsequential, as the Black Knights responded by adding three more runs to their total in the following two innings. Braden Golinski, Ruta and Friedrick were all credited with RBI during the stretch, which saw Army re-extend its lead to 9-1.
The Midshipmen made one final push to get their offense going in the top of the seventh, driving in a pair of runs on a groundout and a single, but Early was able to hold them off. The sophomore, who was tagged with all three runs, picked up the win to improve to 4-3 on the year.
Army 9, Navy 1
A five-spot in the eighth helped the Cadets complete the doubleheader sweep of the Mids. Though Army led for the entirety of the second game, the big push towards the end helped the team officially secure the Star.
Ruta's two home runs and three RBI highlighted the contest, as one of his shots helped put the team over the edge in the dominant eighth inning.
Ruta also got the scoring started for the Black Knights, leaving the park on a full count in the bottom of the first to put Army ahead 1-0. Two frames later, Berg launched a ball of his own over the wall in left field and his two-run shot bumped the score up before Dubrule's RBI single made it a 4-0 game.
Starting arm Robbie Buecker cruised through the beginning of his outing as the Cadets built their early lead. Navy's best chance to score in the opening frames was in the top of the fifth when a pair of Mids reached, but Buecker took one down swinging for the final out.
While Army's bats cooled off a bit in the middle of the game, the bullpen kept the team in it. Steven Graver tossed two scoreless frames in the sixth and seventh before handing the ball over to Sean Dennehy at the start of the eighth. Though a two-out bloop single cut the Cadet advantage down to 4-1 while he was on the bump, Dennehy did not let the tying run advance further than the on-deck circle.
After putting up three zeros, the offense got going once again in the bottom of the eighth when pinch-runner Kevin Luke scored on a perfectly-executed hit-and-run by Macias. Dubrule and Ruta capped off the scoring with a double and a home run, lifting Army to its nine-run total.
Tanner Gresham recorded the final three outs for Army, helping Buecker (1-3) pick up his first win of the season.