If you read our Senior Salute for Navy Baseball this part will sound redundant, but it certainly sets the tone for the unique challenges faced over the last week or so:
Just last week the nation caught word of a postponed NBA season. From there, there were talks of a postponed or cancelled March Madness. Schools were shutting down and the future of the NCAA spring sports was unknown. The Patriot League wasted no time and made the decision to conclude the athletic season early in hopes of combating the spread of COVID-19.
“All Spring practices and competitions” - that left no grey area. Patriot League baseball came to a screeching halt and left Army baseball unable to extend their conference tournament win streak to three consecutive years, a feat the Black Knights were favored to repeat.
⚾️#PatriotBaseball 2020 Preseason Poll— Patriot League (@PatriotLeague) January 28, 2020
https://t.co/3QqYRV9CpD#PatriotBaseball | #NCAABaseball | @PatriotLeagueTV pic.twitter.com/1Jul8WJvaT
Army baseball challenged themselves early on with a top 50 strength of schedule as rated by Boyd’s World. Road series’ against Duke and Texas A&M started off the Black Knights’ season and it didn’t get much easier playing the likes of Iowa and other top 100 programs in the country.
It was clear that this Army team was up to the task at hand, especially after putting together a number of close contests against its Power Five opponents. While their series against Rutgers (geez, was this a Big Ten schedule, or what?) was canceled first, they were just weeks away from opening Patriot League play against Holy Cross. Many pundits familiar with Patriot League baseball figured Army would be in the mix for a Patriot League title and who knows what could have happened in every team’s quest to make it to Omaha. One thing is for sure, we know the Black Knights wouldn’t be too intimidated by any Power Five programs that potentially stood in their way of winning a NCAA regional.
Since we won't be dissecting a potential CWS run let’s take a look at the senior class that contributed so much in their four years at West Point.
Drake Titus earned All Patriot-League Second Team honors in 2018 after starting in 54 games as a sophomore. The Bloomfield Hills, Michigan native also found success in the classroom as Titus was named to the 2019 Patriot League Academic Honor Roll. The outfielder finished his career with a .244 batting average which included a .280 average in 2018. Titus also contributed to the Black Knights’ success as a pitcher his freshman year finishing with a 3-2 record in 16 appearances. He also garnished a little bit of social media fame after proposing to his girlfriend on the diamond while a member of the Traverse City Pit Spitters.
Our #5 moment on our countdown was another first for the Pit Spitters! On July 31st, Drake Titus proposed on the pitchers mound, and she said YES! pic.twitter.com/HPtELFju2v— Traverse City Pit Spitters (@TCPitSpitters) December 26, 2019
This Mundelein, Illinois product spent a majority of his career as a relief pitcher for the Black Knights. Santoro earned a 2-0 record in 40 appearances dating back to 2017 and averaged one strikeout per inning pitched. The Carmel High School graduate pitched a hitless inning against Auburn in a 2018 NCAA Regional game played in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Two former Corsair baseball players, Joe Santoro (left) and Matt Collins (right) met up at West Point yesterday, as Army took on Cornell. Joe & Matt were thrilled to see each other. Proud to see our athletes continue their success in college!#CarmelStrong @CCHSCorsairs pic.twitter.com/MpzjetCRll— Carmel Athletics (@CarmelCorsairs) April 4, 2019
Another senior from Illinois, Crompton was putting his best season together in 2020 during his four years as a Black Knight. In 22 plate appearances this year, Anfernee contributed seven hits, good enough for a .318 average while also adding four RBIs for good measure. Crompton’s talents also extend well beyond the outfield and include volleying a baseball using a bat for quite an extended period of time.
Brandon Lee and Anfernee Crompton staying loose before today's game pic.twitter.com/y5zgsrYRsc— Army Baseball (@ArmyWP_Baseball) April 11, 2017
Senior John McKenna started in 131 games as a Black Knight and knocked in 31 RBIs in both his sophomore and junior years. The Parkland, Florida product finished his career with a .982 fielding percentage at first-base while adding 595 career putouts. McKenna was an impressive 4 for 9 in the 2018 NCAA Regional which included a win over host NC State and knocked in a two-run homer as a pinch-hitter at Texas A&M earlier this season.
#PLbaseball Players of the Week Announced (2.19.18)— Patriot League (@PatriotLeague) February 19, 2018
sophomore 1B John McKenna
Pitcher: @HCrossBaseball sophomore RHP Zane Hedaya
Rookie: @LehighBaseball freshman RHP Peter Woltersdorf
Online Link: https://t.co/AbTQlC641w pic.twitter.com/7drJdthaSv
Jeremiah undoubtedly has the most unique path to his senior campaign. He is a senior per NCAA eligibility guidelines but is a sophomore at West Point. A native of Massachusetts, Adams found his way at Oklahoma as a freshman before a transfer to Broward Community College due to a loss of scholarship under a new Sooner coaching staff. The infielder then transferred to West Point with just two years of eligibility remaining. Adams may benefit from NCAA changes that will permit him to play another year due to the shortened Spring season but all of that still remains up in the air. Jeremiah currently holds a .248 career batting average at West Point and boasted a .991 fielding percentage (committing only one error) at first base this season. No matter his future, he will always be remembered for his game three, ninth-inning RBI single that gave Army the eventual 4-3 win over Navy in last year’s Patriot League Championship.
Cam Opp hoists Patriot League championship trophy in the air after closing out Navy for second straight year. Army beats Navy 4-3 in deciding Game 3. Jeremiah Adams breaks tie with RBI single in 9th. pic.twitter.com/AEkH6FHEHh— Sal Interdonato (@salinterdonato) May 19, 2019
We aren’t even sure where to start with Hurtubise as this guy has earned just about every honor possible.
- 2019 ABCA/Rawlings Second Team All-American
- 2019 ABCA/Rawlings First Team All-Region
- 2019 Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year
- 2018, 2019 All-Patriot League First Team
- 2018, 2019 Academic All-Patriot League Team
The senior outfielder finished with a career batting average just over .300 and started every game his sophomore and junior year. Jacob broke the Army single season record in runs (71), walks (69) and stolen bases (45), while setting Patriot League career records in walks (141) and stolen bases (141) in 2019. He was also the first Black Knight to be selected in the MLB draft since 2015 when he was selected in the 39th round by the Seattle Mariners. His current numbers fall just 12 runs short of breaking the Army and Patriot League record for runs scored.
Army West Point center fielder Jacob Hurtubise drafted by the Seattle Mariners. https://t.co/JcOzdoDw7c— Scott J. Komaromy (@scott_komaromy) June 8, 2019
Senior Logan Smith was easily putting together his best season as a Black Knight in 2020 before the year came to a premature end. The Hudson High School (Lufkin, Texas) product started four games and pitched 28 innings putting together an impressive 1.61 ERA on the year. After an impressive one-hit performance against Duke to begin the season, Smith put a complete game together against Air Force to earn the win over the Falcons on February 28th. Smith struck out 24 batters this season and gave up just a .155 batting average against opponents.
The Black Knights were on the verge of putting together another league title run before the season was cut short. Many of these seniors will be missed next year as they were the foundation for Army’s Patriot League titles the last two seasons.
We salute you seniors and wish you well in your future careers as officers in the United States Army!