Ninth-Inning Rally Lifts Navy Past Air Force, 7-4
Feb. 26, 2012
KINSTON, N.C. - A bases-loaded, two-RBI single by Chance Jones with two-outs in the top of the ninth inning gave Navy the lead and the Mids went on to add two more runs as they defeated Air Force, 7-4, in the final game of the Freedom Classic in Kinston, N.C., on Sunday afternoon.
Trailing 4-3 with two outs in the top of the ninth inning, Brandon Beans drew a full-count walk, Andrew Hahn reached on an error by Air Force shortstop Casey Gibson and Greg Dupell got hit by Falcon reliever Alex Baker's 3-2 pitch to load the bases for Navy.
After leading Navy (4-3) with two home runs and six RBIs in yesterday's doubleheader, sophomore catcher Chance Jones stepped in and again delivered for the Mids. Jones' two-RBI single through the left side gave Navy a 5-4 lead and the next batter, Kash Manzelli, brought in two more runs with a single up the middle to make the score 7-4.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Navy reliever Anthony Parenti got Noah Pierce to pop out to end the game as he earned his first-career collegiate win.
"Losing twice yesterday was tough, and then today being down to our last strike and finding a way to get four runs was a good win for us," said Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "Brandon drew the walk and good things started to happen from there.
"A win like this proves you can come back and it shows that this game doesn't have a clock and you're never out of it if you just keep pecking away."
Prior to Navy's late heroics, it looked like a four-run seventh inning by the Falcons (3-4) might be the difference in the game. With Navy leading, 3-0, and one out in the bottom of the seventh, Air Force loaded the bases after a Navy error kept the inning alive. The Falcons took advantage and grabbed the lead by scoring four runs, with the help of a two-RBI single by Pierce.
Navy scored its first runs of the game in the second inning with RBI singles from Dave Milanes and David Wiedeman. Dylan Wheeler also picked up an RBI when an error by Gibson allowed Manzelli to score from third base to give Navy a 3-0 lead.
While keeping the Falcons hitless through four innings, Navy starter Zach Sipe still had to navigate out of trouble to keep Air Force off the scoreboard. In the third inning, he got out of a bases-loaded jam after issuing two walks and hitting a batter, while in the fifth, he stranded Air Force runners at second and third base after allowing a walk and a hit.
Sipe finished with six walks and five strikeouts before giving way to Jordan Heller with one out in the bottom of the seventh.
Baker, who came into the game in the top of the ninth looking to pick up the save, wound up taking the loss in surrendering four unearned runs.
Parenti pitched the final two and two-thirds innings as he allowed three hits, walked one batter and struck out three for the win.
Sunday's game drew an announced crowd of 1,253 at Grainger Stadium as Navy and Air Force completed the second annual Freedom Classic.
"This is a great experience for us and we really enjoy coming here," said Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "Everyone involved is so friendly and does such a terrific job putting the event together."