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Army Baseball Preview: Can The Black Knights Repeat in 2019?

Coming off a 2018 appearance in an NCAA regional and Patriot League tournament title, a deep Army squad is poised for another run

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Army Baseball Preview

The Black Knights were named the preseason favorite in the Patriot League heading into the 2019 season following their terrific run to the Raleigh regional last year. Though Navy has both the preseason Player and Pitcher of the Year, the Black Knights have some serious depth as they placed the most players on the preseason all-league team with six. Let’s look back at the 2018 season and get you geared up for what to expect this year!

2018 Recap

Army is coming off a terrific 2018 campaign that saw them go 37-24 overall, with a 18-7 record in the Patriot League. After defeating Navy twice early in the year at Camden Yards, they dropped the next three against the Mids and ended up with the second seed in the Patriot League tournament. They would exact their revenge in Annapolis, however, as they beat Navy in two straight to win the Patriot League tournament and get a berth in an NCAA regional out of Raleigh. No stranger to a higher level of competition with a strong non-conference schedule that included wins against Michigan, Boston College, and a series victory over Maryland, the Black Knights headed to Raleigh and stole one from the host Wolfpack of NC State in the first game before falling to Auburn and State and ending their season. It was a great season and one that Army will look to build off of as they have significant depth in both their rotation and bullpen and several key contributors returning as position players as well. Let’s break down the 2019 schedule!

2019 Schedule

The 2019 schedule features the usual Patriot League contests which includes five games against preseason runner-up Navy with the last game being broadcast on CBS Sports Network. In non-conference play, Army will open the season February 15th down in Baton Rouge, LA against service academy rival Air Force. Following that game, they will get a chance to take on perennial college baseball power LSU as well as Louisiana Monroe. Army will stay on the road for the next 14 games before their home opener. That’s 17 road games in total before their first game at home which means they will have been tested in the early going for sure. Those road games include some good matchups against Tulane, Houston, and Stephen F. Austin. After a mid-week tilt against Hofstra for their home opener, Army will play host to Bucknell and Navy in their first weekend of Patriot League play. In all, you will have 19 chances to watch your Black Knights at home this year!

Players to Watch

Tyler Giovinco, SP

A second team all-league player a year ago, the senior captain will have his sights set on first-team honors this year as he is coming off a season in which he led the Patriot League with nine wins. Following a 9-5 record with a 3.26 ERA, the southpaw out of Las Vegas will combine with fellow senior Daniel Burggraaf for a lethal one-two combo this year. Perhaps his best performance of 2018 was against NC State in which he limited the Wolfpack to just one run on seven hits in the 5-1 Army victory.

Daniel Burggraaf, SP

The other half of the starting pitching duo is fellow senior and captain Daniel Burggraaf, a righty out of Washington state who was moved to the weekend rotation after earning three saves out of the bullpen and showed the coaches that they had clearly made the right choice. He ended his year 7-3 with a 2.90 ERA and if he continues to provide the same results from when he joined the starting ranks last year, he will most certainly be an All-League performer this year. In Patriot League play, his ERA was even better at 1.98 and for the season he held opponents to just a .213 batting average.

Cam Opp, RP

Rounding out the preseason All-League pitchers is Cam Opp out of the bullpen for the Black Knights. The senior southpaw is also a team captain like Giovinco and Burggraaf. He is coming off a second team all-league year in which he posted the best ERA for Army at 2.66 even though he appeared in the most games at 25. He ended up 5-2 on the year including a big win against Michigan and closing out the Patriot League tournament against Navy. Look for Opp to have a tremendous year as he gets the ball handed to him from Giovinco and Burggraaf frequently and shuts the door on his opponents.

John McKenna, 1B

It isn’t just the pitching staff that will lead the way this year. Army has three position players on the preseason All-League team as well, and junior John McKenna is one of them. Out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, FL, McKenna is coming off a 2018 season in which he batted .245 with 31 RBIs and a team leading 14 HBP. While those numbers aren’t staggering, McKenna will be anchoring the infield for the Black Knights and hopes to not only continue to grow at the plate, but build off a season in which he turned a team-high 33 double plays for the Black Knights.

Anthony Giachin, 3B

On the other side of the diamond manning the hot corner is Giachin, a sophomore out of New Jersey who was the Patriot League Rookie of the Year in 2018 and a member of the Collegiate Baseball Freshmen All-America Team. The first team All Patriot League selection and Patriot League Tournament MVP started all 61 games last season, compiling a .286 batting average, 61 hits (easy math says that’s 1 a game), 34 runs, nine doubles, three triples, and two home runs. He also drove in 33 runs and saved his best play for conference time as he posted a .318 batting average in Patriot League action. He will be the center piece of the Army offense this season, and Black Knights fans can only hope he will continue to build off his tremendous freshman campaign!

Jacob Hurtubise, OF

The final man in the league leading six selections to the preseason all-league team is Hurtubise, a junior outfielder from Indiana who set program records for steals (42) and walks (50) last season. The speedy center fielder had 59 hits, a team leading 56 runs, and a terrific .428 OBP last year. His 42 steals were not only an Army record, they were the most in all of the NCAA last year. Look for Hurtubise to swipe bases early and often in games and use his speed to get in scoring position frequently in an attempt to manufacture runs for Army all year.