Navy Defeats Coppin State, 3-1 in Mid-Week Tilt
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Navy baseball team continued playing a crisp brand of early-season baseball on Wednesday with 3-1 victory over Coppin State. Playing their second game in as many days as part of a six-game week, the Mids (6-2) got solid pitching from a trio of pitchers and timely hitting in the fourth inning in the win over the Eagles (1-4-1) at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium.
The trio of Jared Leins (Fr., Raleigh, N.C.), Jack Ferguson (Fr., Atlanta, Ga.) and Colin Brady (Sr., Seneca, S.C.) did the job on the mound for the Mids on Wednesday as each pitcher threw three innings against the Eagles. In his first collegiate start, Leins one-hit Coppin State and struck out four before Ferguson took over in the fourth inning and scattered four hits and one run over his outing. With the score 3-1, Brady closed out the game over the final three innings for his first collegiate save.
Offensively, Zach Biggers (So., Walhalla, S.C.) and Christian Hodge (Jr., Winder, Ga.) led the Mids’ charge as each notched two hits on the day. Biggers’ highlight was an RBI triple in the fourth, while Hodge connected for a pair of doubles.
“What a great performance by our three pitchers,” exclaimed head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. “We’ve played in essence six full games over the past five days. All three players were on short rest and all three gave us great effort. They were the reason we were able to win a ball game today. My hat’s off to all three of those guys.”
Both Leins and his counterpart on Coppin State, Devin Rivera Ozuna opened the game with three straight scoreless innings. Coppin State threatened Leins and Navy slightly in the first inning with runners on first and third with two outs, but the lanky right-handed pitcher forced a fly out to Stephen Born (Sr., Strafford, Pa.) to end the inning. In his final inning of work in the third, Leins tallied his third and fourth strikeouts of the game. Leins’ final line on Wednesday was 3.0 innings, one hit, one walk and four strikeouts.
The offenses for Coppin State and Navy finally gained some traction in the fourth inning as the visiting Eagles touched up the newly-inserted Ferguson for the game’s first run via a double and single in back-to-back at bats.
Down 1-0, the Mids came right back in the bottom of the fourth when they sent eight men to the plate. Born and Biggers led off the inning with a single and triple in consecutive plate appearances, respectively. With the game tied at 1-1, Biggers came in to score on a Jacob Williamson (So., Sims, N.C.) RBI ground out. The third run came about when Hodge smashed a two-out double into left field. A single by Stephen Thompson (Fr., Rock Hill, S.C.) promptly scored Hodge to make it 3-1.
From that point on both teams tried to mount rallies to tack additional runs on the scoreboard, but both were subdued by solid pitching. After giving up one run in his first inning of work, Ferguson settled in and shut out Coppin State over the fifth and sixth innings on his way to earning the eventual victory. The freshman left-hander completed his outing with a line of 3.0 innings, four hits, one run and one strikeout over 27 pitches.
Navy had runners on in each of the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings, but couldn’t tie together a second or possible third hit to manufacture an insurance run.
Brady made sure that the 3-1 margin would stand up as the righty submariner posted zeros in each of the final three innings. He recorded one strikeout and one ground ball put out on comebackers to the mound in each of the last three stanzas. In his longest outing on the mound since April 19, 2016, Brady finished with a line of 3.0 innings pitched, two hits, one walk and three strikeouts.
For the game, both Navy and Coppin State recorded seven hits. Biggers and Hodge tied for the team lead with two hits each. This marked Biggers’ third straight game with multiple hits as he had five on Sunday versus Air Force, three yesterday against UMBC and two this afternoon. This was Hodge’s first multi-hit game of the young season, though it extends his streak of reaching base safely to seven straight games.
“Zach and Christian had some good, competitive at bats for us today,” said Kostacopoulos. “As a whole though, it wasn’t a good offensive day. We hit a lot of lazy fly balls. There was a lack of intensity in our swings and at bats that turned into easy outs. We didn’t put a whole lot of pressure on them [Coppin State]. The offense really didn’t really do its job today, but like I said before, we had three guys [Leins, Ferguson and Brady] that came out and did their job. Sometimes in baseball that’s enough; it won’t be in the future this season, but it was for us today.”
Navy will continue early season non-conference action with a four-game series at home versus NJIT this weekend. The Mids and Highlanders are set for doubleheader action on both Saturday and Sunday. The first pitches on both days is set for 11 a.m.