March 8, 2014
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – In a hard-fought game, the Navy baseball team (5-6) saw Monmouth score the game-tying run in the top of the ninth inning only to fight back in the bottom of the frame to secure a dramatic 4-3 victory over the visiting Hawks (1-7) at Max Bishop Stadium. Sophomore CF Robert Currie (Atlanta, Ga.) led the Mids with the two-out walk-off double on an afternoon when their bats exploded for a season-high 13 hits.
Navy’s break-out offensive effort backed up another strong start by Stephen Moore (Roswell, Ga.), who pitched 8.0 innings and allowed just two runs (one earned) on four hits with 10 strikeouts. The junior RHP dropped his ERA from 1.89 to 1.54 in the no-decision.
“Today was a really good baseball game, both teams played well” said Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. “We got great starting pitching from Stephen Moore and some big two-out hits. Connor Deneen had one and Robert Currie had a great day with three hits and the clutch game-winner. Again it was another close one, but this was a good college game.”
The Mids got off to a good start early as they looked for their first two-game winning streak of the season. In the bottom of the first inning, Currie led off with a single through the right side before moving into scoring position after Travis Blue (Fr., Orange, Calif.) was hit by a T.J. Hunt offering in the back. With two on and no outs, senior Kash Manzelli (Dunwoody, Ga.) chopped a single over the third baseman to plate the speedy Currie from second base for the early 1-0 lead.
Monmouth looked to even it up in the top of the second with back-to-back singles to begin the frame. After a sacrifice bunt put two Hawks in scoring position, Moore buckled down in this pressure spot and struck out Kyle Perry swinging and forced a ground ball to Manzelli at first base to get out of the jam.
The visitors broke through on the scoreboard in the top of the third when they took advantage of a three-base leadoff Navy error to eventually make it 1-1.
In a bend, but not break mentality that Kostacopoulos would later refer to as a key for the game, the Mids came back to take the lead in the fourth on the strength of a Brandon Beans (Sr., Hartsville, S.C.) ground-rule double and a two-out Leland Saile (Fr., Land O’ Lakes, Fla.) RBI single.
On the mound, Moore continued to toy with the Monmouth batters as he faced just 18 over the first five innings. Of note during this streak, the junior allowed his first base on balls of the season in the fifth after opening the year with a string of 26 strikeouts and no free passes over 23.2 innings.
The Hawks notched their final run of the afternoon off Moore in the sixth when Dan Shea led off with a hit by pitch. Three batters later, pinch hitter Cary Jacobson singled in Shea to once again tie the game, this time at 2-2.
Navy shot right back in the lead in the bottom of the inning when Blue led off with a single before advancing on a Manzelli sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch. The freshman shortstop would come around to score on a Connor Deneen (So., Tustin, Calif.) double to deep center field.
With a 3-2 lead, Moore retired Monmouth in order in the seventh and with just a base hit in the eighth.
Sam Sorenson (So., Etters, Pa.) was summoned from Navy’s bullpen to start the ninth inning in relief of Moore, but was rudely welcomed as the Hawks notched back-to-back singles to start his appearance. Their lead runner Craig Sweeney would come in to tie the game courtesy of a Kyle Perry RBI ground out.
In their third and final response to a Monmouth run, the Mids began the bottom of the ninth with consecutive base hits by Saile and Drew Hayes (Collegeville, Pa.). Pinch hitter Jack Keller (Jr., Ballston Spa, N.Y.) came off the bench and executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to move both Saile and Hayes 90 feet closer to home. After Brad Borosak (Jr., Jupiter, Fla.) flew out to left field for the second out, Currie connected on a 3-1 Stephen Frey offering and launched a deep fly over the head of Monmouth’s centerfielder and over the wall for a walk-off ground-rule double. The final score of game would be 4-3.
“It’s always good when you can get a walk-off win,” said Kostacopoulos. ”We could’ve went in a lull when they tied it in the ninth and I think we went right back at it and were able to execute some good stuff; Leland getting a leadoff hit, Jack dropping down the sacrifice bunt and Rob coming through with runners in scoring position.”
“This was the best we’ve swung our bats all year. The fact that each time they scored we responded, that’s a good sign that you keep coming back. That’s how you stay in games and that’s how you win close games.”
For the game, Navy notched a season-high 13 hits, while Moore and Sorenson limited Monmouth to just six total base hits. Currie (3-5), Hayes (3-4), Beans (2-4) and Saile (2-4) all collected multiple hits for the Mids. Navy’s previous high for team hits in 2014 was nine at Florida A&M on Feb. 16, while no Midshipmen had registered more than two hits in any of the team’s first 10 games prior to today.
Sorenson got the win in relief to improve to 1-1 on the year. Frank Trimarco (0-1) was the losing pitching for Monmouth.
Navy will close out its weekend round-robin play on Sunday afternoon with a 2:30 PM first pitch versus Towson. The Tigers and Mids both come into Sunday’s game with a 2-0 mark on the weekend as they’ve each knocked off Penn and Monmouth.