Bases-Loaded Walk Lifts Navy Over UMBC, 4-3
Junior Alex Azor brought in the winning run with a walk in the ninth inning on Friday.
March 4, 2011
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, junior Alex Azor drew a four-pitch walk to bring in Nikolai Simonsen and give Navy a 4-3 win over UMBC on Friday afternoon at Max Bishop Stadium. The win improved Navy's record to 3-6, while UMBC dropped to 0-2.
UMBC pitching limited the Mids to just three hits on Friday, but it was the combination of strong pitching and excellent defense that earned Navy the win.
"As I told the players, there are a lot of ways to win a baseball game, and sometimes it's not all offense and sometimes it's not all pitching," said Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "You just have to find those ways to win."
UMBC got to Navy starter Ben Nelson early, as consecutive hits to start the game eventually led to at 2-0 Retriever lead.
Nelson appeared to be in trouble again in the second inning, but with one out and the bases loaded, he struck out the leadoff hitter Rob McCabe and then got Michael Pesci looking at strike three to end the threat.
"Ben got off to a little bit of a shaky start, but fighting out the second inning and leaving the bases loaded kind of sparked him," said Kostacopoulos.
Nelson's strikeouts spurred the Mids as they responded in the bottom of the second to take the lead.
With one out and Wheeler on first and Hahn standing at third, Navy pulled off a double steal to grab the lead, 3-2.
After Wheeler had taken off to steal second base, UMBC starting pitcher Shane Vlasic made a late pickoff move toward first base, giving Wheeler plenty of time to slide safely into the bag. With Wheeler safe at second, Hahn broke from third base and slid into home plate, unchallenged, to give Navy a one-run advantage.
Pitching with the lead, Nelson settled in and racked up five more strikeouts over the next five innings and finished the game with a career-best eight Ks.
A one-out triple in the top of the seventh inning, followed by an RBI ground out, tied the game for the Retrievers.
Navy stranded runners in both the seventh and eighth innings, but a leadoff double by Taylor Cato put the Midshipmen in position to win the game in the ninth. UMBC reliever Matt Siggins then hit Wheeler with a pitch and Jonathan Wright followed with a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt toward third base to move both runners over.
UMBC then elected to intentionally walk Nick Driscoll, setting up Azor's game-winning walk that brought in the pinch runner Simonsen.
Navy reliever Wes Olson was solid out of the bullpen as he entered the game in the eighth and allowed just one hit to earn his first win of the season.
The Midshipmen will begin a three-game series with Central Connecticut State tomorrow at 11 a.m. at Max Bishop Stadium.
With his leadoff single in the second inning, Greg Dupell extended his team-high hitting streak to seven games.
Navy played error-free baseball for the third time this season.