Navy Baseball Falls To Air Force In Freedom Classic Finale
Feb. 23, 2014
KINSTON, N.C. - An early lead by the Navy baseball team (2-4) would not hold up on Sunday afternoon at Grainger Stadium as Air Force (3-3) scored nine unanswered runs beginning in the fourth inning to take the game by a 9-1 margin and the overall Freedom Classic series, two games to one.
Senior captain Kash Manzelli (Dunwoody, Ga.) led the Midshipmen on the afternoon with a 2-for-4 showing at the plate with doubles in each of his first two at bats.
"Today, we got away from some of the things that we were doing pretty well," said Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "We walked eight batters, made a couple of defensive miscues and they capitalized. We never got our feet under us offensively as their pitcher shut us down. We are going to have to learn to stay consist with the things that we do well and that's going to be a learning lesson for this young team."
Navy began Sunday's contest with two strong at bats by Brad Borosak (Jr., Jupiter, Fla.) and Robert Currie (So., Atlanta, Ga.), who forced Air Force starter Griffin Jax to throw double-digit pitches in both at bats, 10 to Borosak and 12 to Currie. After Navy's leadoff hitter was retired on a pop-up, its sophomore center fielder hit a hard single to third base and beat the throw to first. Manzelli would give the Mids two runners in scoring position when he took Jax' second offering down the left field line for a double. Two bats later, Currie would come in to score when Russell Williams, Air Force's shortstop, threw wild to first base allowing Connor Deneen (So., Tustin, Calif.) to reach safely.
With a 1-0 lead, Navy starting pitcher Luke Gillingham (So., Coronado, Calif.) settled in and controlled Air Force the first time through the batting order. He carried his team's advantage into the fourth inning with just one hit allowed and two strikeouts.
In the fourth inning, the Falcon bats would awaken and push three runs across with the combination of two hits, two walks and on Navy error to chase Gillingham from the contest.
Air Force would continue posting runs as they scored in the sixth, seventh and ninth innings to the tune of six more runs and an eventual 9-1 lead.
After pressing Jax early on, the Midshipmen bats could not break through as the freshman hurler threw seven total innings on the afternoon to collect the win. Navy's best late game push came in the eighth inning off of reliever Trent Monaghan when Borosak reached on a bunt hit past the mound and Brandon Beans (Sr., Hartsville, S.C.) singled to right field to put two men on base. The Air Force pitcher got out of the jam with a 1-3 putout after recovering from a line drive up the middle and composing himself in time to toss out Deneen at first.
For the game, Air Force outhit Navy 9-7. Six separate Mids collected hits on the afternoon.
Jax (1-1) earned the win for the Falcons with a line of 7.0 innings pitched, five hits, one walk, one run (unearned) and seven strikeouts. In a losing effort, Gillingham (0-2) went 3.2 innings with three hits, two walks, three strikeouts and three runs (one earned) allowed.
"Our pitching was pretty solid on the first two days," said Kostacopoulos about the team's overall performance during the series. "We picked up the ball pretty well, held runners on and did the little things that we have made a point of working on. We just have to be consistent with it. Going forward, we have to find ways to enhance our offense."
Navy will next be in action on Wednesday, Feb. 26 versus Coppin State in its 2014 home opener. The action at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium is slated to begin at 2 p.m.