Navy Knocks Off ACC’s Wake Forest, 5-2
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – One day after a disappointing opening game at the Wake Forest round-robin tournament, the Navy baseball team came roaring back with come-from-behind victory over 2017 NCAA Super Regional participant, Wake Forest by a score of 5-2 on Saturday afternoon at David F. Couch Ballpark. Trailing 2-1 after six innings, the Mids (1-1) knotted the game in the seventh before going ahead with three runs in the top of the ninth off the Demon Deacons’ (1-1) closer.
The senior duo of RHP Sean Kamhoot (Gainesville, Fla.) and right fielder Stephen Born (Strafford, Pa.), as well as sophomore left fielder Evan Lowery (Williamsburg, Va.) led Navy’s individual effort on Saturday. In his first collegiate start, Kamhoot hurled five-plus innings of three-hit, one-run ball, while Born had the game-winning two-RBI double in the ninth. Lowery’s theatrics came in the seventh when he tied the game with a solo home run.
“That was a great ball game in the sense that we got all the components that you want,” remarked head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. “We received really good starting pitching from Sean, we didn’t get many hits, but we got the clutch ones at the end and we played really good defense in some tough conditions out here. It was an all-around good game.”
In a matchup of relievers turned starting pitchers, Kamhoot and his counterpart LHP Carter Bach both did a good job early of controlling the opposing offense over the first three innings as the scoreboard continually showed zeros. The only blemish in the hit column came in the third inning for both as Zach Biggers (So., Walhalla, S.C.) tallied a single for the Mids in the top of the frame before Wake Forest’s DJ Poteet matched him with a single in the bottom half.
In the top of the fourth, Navy scratched out the game’s first run with the combination of a hit by pitch and two straight walks to lead off the inning. Logan Knowles (Sr., Port Orchard, Wash.) came around to score after Lowery grounded out to first base.
With the heart of Wake Forest’s order coming up in the bottom of the fourth and looking for a rebuttal, Kamhoot forced two fly outs and ground out and the game remained at 1-0 in favor of Navy.
Strong defensive play by Navy continued to the hold Wake Forest at bay in the fifth. With runners on first and second with two outs Biggers made a sliding grab to his left and toss over to first to get the third out. This was Biggers’ second such diving play over the first five innings, as he flashed the leather on a dive to the left in the third inning.
The host Demon Deacons finally got to Kamhoot in the bottom of the sixth as the leadoff hitter was hit by a pitch. Colin Brady (Sr., Seneca, S.C.) was summoned out of the bullpen and found some early success, though Wake Forest eventually came through with a two-out, two-RBI single to take the lead.
Navy immediately countered this scoring situation in the top of the seventh. Lowery led off the inning with a massive 390-foot home run over the right field wall into the parking lot. The Mids tried to threaten further with a hit by pitch and walk, but both runners were stranded.
In his first full inning of relief with his new submarine delivery, Brady put down the Demon Deacon’s two- and three-hole hitters with strikeouts in back-to-back plate appearances in the bottom of the seventh. He continued pitching for the Mids into the eighth before leaving with a line of 2.1 innings, one run and three strikeouts.
After feeling out Wake Forest’s closer Morgan McSweeney over the seventh and eighth innings, the Mids started teeing off and broke the 2-2 deadlock in the top of the ninth. Alex Smith (So., Stafford, Va.) and Michael Coritz (So., Clifton, Va.) got the rally going as the duo reached in back-to-back at bats, Smith via single and Coritz, an error. With two on and one out, Born laced a looping double down the left field line to score both. Three batters later, Christian Hodge (Jr., Winder, Ga.) stroked a single into left field to score Born and make it a 5-2 game.
Tommy Goodridge (Fr., San Diego, Calif.) closed out the victory for Navy as he tallied two strikeouts and a pop out in the bottom of the ninth. Since he entered in the eighth in a tied game, Goodridge was credited with the win after going 1.2 scoreless innings.
For the game, Wake Forest outhit Navy, 10-6. The Mids six hits came from six different players.
In his first career start, Kamhoot received a no-decision. The former outfielder turned reliever went 5.0-plus innings with three hits, one walk and one run allowed. Kamhoot struck out three Demon Deacons.
“We got the chance today to play a really quality team and we knew that we had to bring it or it could be a long game,” said Kostacopoulos. “We knew what we were up against coming into today and we also knew we had to bounce back after yesterday and we did just that. Now we move on to play Georgetown tomorrow.”
The Mids’ victory was the program’s first over an ACC school since defeating Duke in 2002. All-time, Navy moves to 2-1 versus Wake Forest as prior to Saturday the teams played in 1930 (Navy: W, 15-8) and 2002 (WF: W, 13-1).
Navy will close out action at the Wake Forest round-robin tournament with a bout versus Georgetown. The game between the Mids and Hoyas is set for 10 a.m.