Feb. 19, 2010
DURHAM, N.C. - The Navy baseball team kicked off its 2010 season with solid offense and pitching to defeat Delaware State, 13-3, in the opening day of the Eagle Baseball Classic at Durham Athletic Park on Friday.
"When you begin the season after some challenging circumstances caused by the weather, you don't really know what to expect," stated Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "You just want to go out and play. It's tough not being able to really go outside for two weeks. That being said, we did some things well today."
Most of the 14-hit, nine-walk offensive attack came from the top-four spots in the order - Mike Guadagnini (Jr./Virginia Beach, Va.), Matthew Curley (Sr./Boston, Mass.), Alex Azor (So./Miami, Fla.) and Michael Speciale (Sr./Pearland, Texas). The quartet of Navy hitters combined to go 9-for-16 with five walks and 10 runs scored.
Guadagnini went 3-for-4 with two walks and three runs scored, while Curley finished 2-for-4 with two walks and three runs scored. Azor registered a 2-for-3 mark at the plate with a walk and two hit by pitches, which set the stage for Speciale's five-RBI performance.
"The top-four guys in our order were very productive," said Kostacopoulos. "They were table setters for our offense and Michael (Speciale) did a good job of picking up those runners."
Navy used some two-out magic to score five runs and strike first in the second inning. With two down and two runners on, Guadagnini smacked a RBI-double off the fence in right before Curley ripped a two-run double down the right-field line. Azor followed with a run-scoring single to center and Speciale the scoring with a RBI-double to the gap in left-center.
One inning later, Kendall Bolt (Sr./Stockton, Calif.) launched a solo shot over the fence down the left-field line. In the fourth, as the Mids drew back-to-back walks prior to a Speciale three-run blast high off the face of the building beyond the right-field fence.
The scoring continued in the fifth with four more runs despite not recording a base hit. After back-to-back walks and a hit batsmen loaded the bases, Speciale was hit by a pitch to force in a run. Jonathan Berkowitz
(Sr./Parkland, Fla.) lifted a sacrifice fly to plate the second run before wild pitches brought in the final-two runs of the frame.
Navy starting pitcher Sam Long (Jr./Newnan, Ga.) went 3.2 innings with eight strikeouts, but also walked four and hit a batter in allowing three runs - only one earned - during a 91-pitch outing. However, reliever Ben Nelson (Fr./Winter Springs, Fla.) was stellar in his collegiate debut to earn the victory.
Nelson did not allow a run over 4.2 innings of two-hit baseball with one walk and four strikeouts. The Navy freshman did not allow a base hit over his final-3.0 innings of work and induced eight groundouts.
"Ben pitched really well and settled the game down," stated Kostacopoulos. "He's a strike-thrower that came in and executed. He had good command of his pitches and gave us exactly what we needed in games like these."
In addition to Navy's top-four batters in the lineup, Bolt and Nick Driscoll (Jr./Riverview, Fla.) delivered two-hit efforts.
The Midshipmen will return to action tomorrow with Iona (1-0) in the second day of the Eagle Baseball Classic at Durham Athletic Park. First pitch is slated for 12 noon and live stats will be available via GameTracker on www.navysports.com(.)
- Navy is now 66-47-2 in season-opening games ... the Midshipmen have won five of their last-six season openers.
- Navy's 13 runs scored were the most in a season opener since its 17-8 victory at Savannah State to start the 2005 campaign.
- Head coach Paul Kostacopoulos has directed the Mids to a 21-8-2 mark in the month of February since taking over the reigns in 2006.
- The Midshipmen were hit by a pitch five times on Friday, tying for the fifth-highest single-game mark in school history ... the Mids were two shy of tying the record set against Holy Cross last season and Lafayette in 1999.
- Alex Azor was hit by a pitch twice on Friday to tie a single-game program record ... the mark had been recorded 45 other times, with the most recent being Jeff Bland at Holy Cross one season ago.
- Michael Speciale's three-run shot in the fourth was his 16th of his career, tying him for fourth in school history with Mitch Harris (2005-08) ... his five RBIs tied his career high set against Belmont Abbey on March 20, 2008, and pushed his career total to 100, which ranks 15th in school history.
- Kendall Bolt's solo shot to left in the third was his ninth home run of his career, tying him for 14th place on the program's all-time list.
- Rookie right-hander Ben Nelson became the first Navy pitcher to win in his collegiate debut since Zach Sipe defeated Pittsburgh in his first-career game on Feb. 22, 2009.
- Sam Long's eight strikeouts in 3.2 innings of work marked the ninth time among his 11 career starts that he struck out at least as many batters as innings pitched.
- This weekend's Eagle Baseball Classic is being held at Durham Athletic Park, the former home of the Durham Bulls and the site from the movie "Bull Durham".