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Checking in on Army baseball

April 12, 2010

West Point cadet Dave Darnell watches his bunt take flight. (Danny Wild/USMA)

They may have lost the biggest fight, but the battle rages on, and some momentum is building.

True, Army blew a promising first-half effort against Navy in their 110th meeting last December in Philadelphia — Army-Navy football, that is. A tough loss, yes, but since that memorable day, the cadets have had some afternoons to brag about.

First there was Army’s crushing victory over Navy in men’s basketball two months ago (to be fair, Navy won the season’s first matchup). Whatever, when Army beats Navy, it’s worth celebrating, whether it’s football, baseball or competitive eating.

The Black Knights have won seven of the last 10 meetings with Army, including three wins this weekend over the Mids in baseball down in Annapolis, Md. Take a look at my photo from Sunday’s split.

Army right-hander Kirk Porter throws a pitch at West Point. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Mission accomplished: Beat Navy.

I was not in attendance for this beatdown, but it does give me an opportunity to post some shots from my first baseball game at West Point — I shot one of Army’s doubleheader matches against Cornell a couple weekends back after watching the football program’s spring scrimmage.

Army, which secured its seventh consecutive series “star” by virtue of its doubleheader sweep of the Mids on Saturday, has now won 13 of its last 15 games against Navy and 24 of 29 dating back to 2004.

The Black Knights have also won 11 of the teams’ last 12 meetings in Annapolis.

USMA has a 2009-10 yearly record going.

The ballpark at West Point is a gem, it’s easy to get to, has a small but cozy seating area (real ballpark seats) and the backdrop is what you might expect: looming grey stoneĀ  buildings on the first base side, and the Hudson River out toward left field. This made for especially sweet backgrounds of the pitcher from the third base position.

Kirk Porter takes on Cornell at Johnson Stadium. (Danny Wild/USMA)

It is pretty damn hard to find a cleaner background at a baseball stadium that that — a wall of distant grey, with the famous monument of General George Washington faded in for good measure.

Here’s another shot of mine Army used this weekend, previewing the Navy matchup.

Army's Kevin McKague watches his hit against Cornell. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Lately I’ve been trying to get this specific angle of the pitcher, sort of from behind his back while behind the plate. I tried it out during this game again:

Army won the Patriot League championship in 2009. (Danny Wild/USMA)

What’s even cooler about taking in a game here is the crowd the games attract, so to speak. As the game went on, truckloads of cadets hiked by first base, returning from a training mission. Guys in full combat gear, trudging along and looking over their shoulder as their fellow cadets toss a ball around.

West Point cadets walk past the baseball game following weapons training. (Danny Wild/USMA)

A scout at the Army-Cornell game highlighted shortstop Clint Moore as a guy to watch, and sure enough, he homered in his first at-bat.

I’d definitely like to get back to some more baseball games up at West Point, but I’ve also got to make some time for getting out in the Minors now that the season has begun.Either way, expect more baseball here going forward.

This one says it all

But back to Navy: the biggest question, obviously, is whether Army football can build upon their 5-7 season under Rich Ellerson and come back prepared to take down their biggest rival next winter. All things considered, the difference between a 5-7 season and a .500 record and a bowl appearance was a last-second missed field goal against Tulane.

I think this will be my next purchase, unless anyone wants to send me a birthday present. That site has everything, including Army black & gold lawn flamingos?

I don’t need a flamingo. I need a nice celebration shot next December following a certain overdue victory.

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