Feb. 23, 2007
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Navy starting pitcher Matt White (Yorba Linda, Calif.) struck out five in 6.1 innings of work to guide the Midshipmen to a 7-5 win and split doubleheader sweep of Air Force at Memphis' Nat Buring Stadium on Friday afternoon.
The Mids won their seventh-consecutive game to improve to 8-1 on the year, their best start in 18 years. The Falcons dropped to 4-6 with the loss.
"The big thing this afternoon was we were able to win a game where we started slowly," stated Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "We played very poorly over the first-third of the game, making errors, bad base-running decisions and allowing them to advance bases. However, what I liked most was that we stopped it and didn't let it snowball on us."
White scattered six hits and five runs, four of which were earned to up his record to 3-0 on the year.
Navy jumped out to a 1-0 in the top of the first when junior Renaldo Hollins (Virginia Beach, Va.) scored on a fielding error with two outs. Air Force responded with a run in the bottom of the first and second innings to take their first lead of the day, 2-1.
The Midshipmen took the lead back with two runs in the top half of the fourth. Junior Bill Maugeri (Edgewater, Md.) delivered a two-run single up the middle to put Navy ahead, 3-2.
After Air Force knotted the score at three in the bottom of the inning, Navy took the lead for good in the fifth. Junior Thomas Hamilton (Houston, Texas) reached on a two-out walk before junior Mitch Harris (Mt. Holly, N.C.) belted a two-run shot over the left-center field fence to put the Mids ahead, 5-3. Harris, who went 3-for-4 at the plate and struck out eight in 7.2 innings on the hill earlier in the day, has accounted for all three of Navy's home runs this season.
Navy extended its lead to the largest of the game, 6-3, in the seventh when freshman Jonathan Berkowitz
(Parkland, Fla.) produced a two-out, RBI-double to plate Hamilton. The Falcons trimmed the margin to one at 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh but the Mids tacked on an insurance run in the ninth when freshman Kendall Bolt
(Stockton, Calif.) scored on a wild pitch.
The Falcons made things interesting in the last half of the ninth when they put runners on second and third with two outs. However, Navy freshman closer JD Melton (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) was able to get the game-ending strikeout on a 3-2 pitch to record his second save of the year. Melton used only 37 pitches to record 2.2 innings of one-hit, shutout relief.
"JD did a great job today," said Kostacopoulos. "He gave us everything you want out of a short reliever. He really competed in some tight spots and got the key outs."
Maugeri and Berkowitz each posted two hits as the Midshipmen out-hit the Falcons for the second-straight game, 8-7. Maugeri knocked in a pair of runs and Berkowitz drove in one and scored once.
Navy and Air Force will attempt to play again tomorrow at 2 p.m. EST at USA Stadium in Millington, Tenn. The Midshipmen are slated to close out the weekend classic with Missouri at 12:30 p.m. at Memphis' Nat Buring Stadium. GameTracker will be available for both games on www.navysports.com(.)