Game Two Walk-off Earns Navy Doubleheader Split with Cornell
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Navy baseball team used some late-game dramatics on Saturday afternoon in its second contest to earn a walk-off win and doubleheader split with Cornell. After the visiting Big Red (1-1) used an explosive opening two innings in game one to spot themselves a 5-0 lead that they would eventually hold onto for a 5-2 decision, game two saw a 2-2 contest break open with multi-run innings by both teams in the seventh and ninth innings. With the score 7-6 in favor of the Big Red going into the bottom of the ninth, the host Mids (3-6) turned a wild throw and collision at first base into a walk-off 8-7 victory much to the delight of their home fans at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium.
"In the first ballgame they did a good job and came out and jumped us," remarked head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "After the first two innings, Noah really settled down and that was good to see. He gave us some quality innings and got back into his groove a little bit better. With seven inning games, it's tough to go down five runs early.
"The second game was just a battle through and through. I give our guys a lot of credit. We were down 5-2 and come back to make it 6-5, then Cornell responds to make it 7-6 and we come back to get two in the bottom of the ninth. As a team that is trying to find its identity, that's a good win for us."
Navy received offensive contributions from throughout its batting order during Saturday's doubleheader as nine players recorded at least one hit and six were credited with one or more RBIs. Individual leaders for the Mids include, Travis Blue (Sr., Orange, Calif.) with a team-high four hits, two doubles and two stolen bases, and Leland Saile (Sr., Land O'Lakes, Fla.), who had a double, triple and two RBIs. Stephen Born (Jr., Strafford, Pa.) also had two RBIs, as well as two stolen bases.
"Our lineup is competing," said Kostacopoulos. "I think sometimes we start pressing at times, but you saw today that our guys are up there battling. We haven't quite found our rhythm at the plate yet, but we'll keep getting after it as time goes these things should fix themselves."
On the mound, Kyle Condry (Sr., Highland Village, Texas), the Mids' game two starter tossed 5.0+ innings of two-run baseball before being removed in the sixth inning. The senior team captain allowed five hits and struck out five Big Red batters over 99 pitches. Game one's starter Noah Song, pitched 6.0 innings and allowed five runs (four earned) with eight strikeouts. Andrew Sauer (So., Johns Creek, Ga.) was Navy's top arm out of the bullpen on Saturday as he hurled 1.2 innings of one-hit relief in game two, while holding Cornell scoreless.
"Kyle did a good job for us today," said Kostacopoulos. "He had his secondary stuff going for him with a good curveball and a good changeup. He got us into the sixth inning which was good to see. I think he tired a bit in his last inning because he was up to 95-plus pitches and his first two starts this year were between 40 and 60 pitches. He gave us a good start, which is definitely what we needed from him."
Cornell 5 - Navy 2
The action on Saturday began with Cornell swinging a hot bat right out the gate. In the top of the first inning in game one, the Big Red sent nine players up to bat and came away with four runs on five hits and an error. The first four batters all squared up pitches from Song and recorded singles. After he struck out the next two batters, though one reached via a wild pitch, Cornell's DH Mitch Blackstone came through with an RBI double down the left field line. Song rounded out his first inning with two more strikeouts for a grand total of four in the frame.
With the score 4-0 in favor of the Big Red, the Ivy League squad pushed across another run in the top of the second on a Dale Wickham double.
After that second inning, Song no-hit Cornell over his final four frames on the mound.
Navy slowly worked its way back into the game over the fourth and fifth innings with single runs in each stanza. In the fourth, a one-out double by Saile turned into a run courtesy of back-to-back singles by Adrian Chinnery (Sr., Wilmington, Del.) and Jacob Williamson (Fr., Sims, N.C.). In the team's next offensive half inning, a one-out single by Logan Knowles (Jr., Port Orchard, Wash.) was quickly followed up by a Blue double down the left field line to make it 5-2.
Song's strong closing stretch during the seven-inning game was capped off by a scoreless inning of relief by Jett Meenach (Sr., Flower Mound, Texas).
The host Mids were unable to push any more runs across off the relief pitching of Jeb Bemiss over the sixth and seventh innings and the game would go final at a 5-2 margin.
For the game, Cornell outhit Navy, 8-7. Seven different Mids recorded hits with three Blue, Saile and Liam Lowery (So., Williamsburg, Va.) all notching doubles.
The Big Red's starter Tim Willittes earned the victory, while Song took the loss to drop to 1-1 on the young 2017 season. Bemiss was credited with the save.
Navy 8 - Cornell 7
In game two, Navy immediately showed flashes of breaking through offensively as the Mids first two batters, Knowles and Blue reached base off of Cornell's starter Justin Lewis before the left-handed pitcher struck out the next three Mids in order.
Two straight scoreless innings by Condry set his team to break through with its first lead of the game in the bottom of the second. After Williamson stroked a one-out double down the right field line, Matthew Wilcox (So., Los Gatos, Calif.) drove in his infield mate with a single through the right side. Back at the top of the order, the next batter, Knowles laced a double down the left field line for to make it 2-0 in favor of Navy.
Strong pitching by Condry continued over the next three innings as the senior held Cornell at bay with just two combined hits. In the fourth inning, Condry struck out the side for his third, fourth and fifth punch outs of the game.
The Big Red finally got to Condry in the top of the sixth and chased the starter after the first three batters reached base. Sean Kamhoot (Jr., Gainesville, Fla.) came out of the bullpen and limited the damage for Navy and got the Mids out of the inning with the score knotted at 2-2.
In the top of the seventh, Cornell got back to swinging its newly-awoken bats to the tune of three runs on two hits and two walks.
Now down 5-2, the Mids immediately responded in the bottom of the seventh as the team sent eight men to the plate and pushed across four runs. Five of the first six batters reached base with Born driving in two on a single to center field and Saile equaling that output with two runs batted in of his own on a triple to right-center field.
The game stayed at a 6-5 score into the ninth as Sauer navigated 1.2 innings of scoreless relief work for the Mids.
On for his second appearance of the day in the top of the ninth in a one-run game, Meenach was rudely greeted by the Big Red with four hits, including two for extra bases. At the end of the half-inning, Cornell was back in front, 7-6.
Down to their last three outs, the Mids were undaunted and immediately started a comeback as Navy's first two hitters, Knowles and Blue reached via a walk and a single. After a fielders' choice, an infield pop-up and a double steal, the stage was set for Chinnery to pull off some two-out theatrics. On the final play of the game, the senior catcher lined a hard hit grounder down the third base line, that Cornell's third baseman Tommy Wagner dove to his right and made a crisp diving snag to come up with the ball. Looking to complete the 5-3 putout, Wagner jumped up to his feet and threw a tailing ball to Trey Baur at first base that led the first baseman up the line and directly into a full-blown collision with Chinnery three feet off the bag. Running in from third base Blue scored easily before Born wisely took notice of the loose ball and rounded for home to score the game-winning run.
In Navy's 8-7 walk-off win, the Mids were outhit by the Big Red, 11-10. Blue (3) and Wilcox (2) led Navy's effort with multiple hits. The Mids connected for extra-base hits at four different occasions in game two.
For working a scoreless 0.1 of an inning in the top of the ninth, Colin Brady (Jr., Seneca, S.C.) was credited with the win, while Cornell's reliever Scott Soltis came away the hard-luck loser.
The Mids and Big Red will be back in action on Sunday with the rubber match of the three-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. at Max Bishop Stadium.