Blue's Walk-off Single Leads Navy to 3-2 Win over Marist
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – For the second time in five games, the Navy baseball team got a walk-off victory as Travis Blue (Sr., Orange, Calif.) came through in the bottom of the ninth with a single to earn the Mids (6-7) a 3-2 win over the Marist Red Foxes (6-6). Playing in near freezing conditions with blustery wind gusts on Saturday afternoon at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium, strong starting pitching performances by Navy’s Kyle Condry (Sr., Highland Village, Texas) and Marist’s Scott Boches saw the game go into the ninth inning at a 2-2 score before Blue’s dramatic hit plated Jacob Williamson (Fr., Sims, N.C.).
“That was a really good college baseball game,” remarked head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. “I thought we executed very well on defense and we got some really clutch pitching. Kyle gave us a really good start and Jett did a nice job in relief. To Marist’s credit they threw the ball well. They kept everything down and forced us to scrap the entire game. We needed to play a clean game and take advantages of the few opportunities that we got. That was a scrappy win.”
On the mound, Condry and Jett Meenach (Sr., Flower Mound, Texas) did all the work for the Mids on Saturday as Condry threw 6.0+ innings with six hits and two runs allowed while striking out eight. His eight punch outs were the most in a single game since March 13, 2015 when the senior sat down 11 New York Tech batters. Coming into a tied game, Meenach hurled the final three innings with one hit allowed and three strikeouts. This was the second straight appearance for the senior sidearmer as Meenach threw 1.0 inning and 19 pitches on Friday.
Offensively, Navy had runners on in six innings, but struggled outside of the fifth inning to tie multiple hits together and net the Mids quality scoring chances. Individually, Blue, Logan Knowles (Jr., Port Orchard, Wash.) and Leland Saile (Sr., Land O’Lakes, Fla.) led the Mids’ offensive effort on Sunday. Blue came through with the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the ninth, while Knowles recorded a team-high two hits. Saile registered his team-best 18th RBI of the season in the fifth.
“Their pitcher [Scott Boches] did a good job with our lineup,” said Kostacopoulos. “He kept the ball down and had a good breaker. The positive thing about our offense today was that we stayed with it. We didn’t fall off for three or four innings and disappear. We kept pecking away until we finally broke through.”
Condry set the tone early for Navy as the senior retired the first eight Marist batters of the game and nine of the first 10. Over that opening three-inning stretch, the right-hander struck out four, forced four ground ball outs and got the ninth out via a foul pop out to Adrian Chinnery (Sr., Wilmington, Del.) near the backstop.
The Mids were nearly able to break through in their first at bats as they got singles by Knowles and Saile, but Boches used his infield to turn in three ground ball outs.
The Red Foxes finally got onto the scoreboard in the top of the fourth with a Greg Kocinski RBI single as the first three batters reached versus Condry. That would be the last Marist would be heard from on the offensive side of the ball over the next two innings as Condry and his teammates posted zeroes in both the fifth and sixth frames. In the fifth, a potential advancement on a wild pitch was short-circuited by Chinnery, who fired a dart down to Williamson at third base to cut down Tyler Kirkpatrick.
With the Red Foxes held at bay, the Mids got their chance to jump into the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Zach Biggers (Fr., Walhalla, S.C.) started the rally as he led off with an infield single to the left side. Another infield single by the Mids from Knowles gave Navy first and second with one out. Back-to-back walks to Blue and Stephen Born (Jr., Strafford, Pa.) forced in the Mids’ first run of the game. The following batter, Saile made it 2-1 on a ground ball fielder’s choice.
After notching two more strikeouts in the sixth, Condry was given the opportunity to go even deeper in the game in the seventh, but Marist’s catcher Chris Tracz had a different idea and led off the stanza with a solo home run over the right field wall. The long ball ended Condry’s day with a season-high 6.0+ innings and 106 pitches thrown. After two tough starts to begin the 2017 season, Condry has pitched five or more innings and hurled 99 or more pitches in both of his last two starts.
Coming in relief in a newly-tied 2-2 ball game, Meenach overpowered the Red Foxes over his first two innings as he struck out two batters in the seventh and another in the eighth. His other three outs during that initial two-inning span came via ground balls to Michael Coritz (Fr., Clifton, Va.) at second base.
Both teams found some success in the nine and final inning as Marist opened the top of the inning with its first two batters reaching base. With two on and no outs, Meenach buckled down and forced three straight ground outs, the first of which was a bunt back to the mound that he spun around and fired to third to pick off the lead runner.
Invigorated after a gutsy performance by their pitcher and defense in the top of the ninth, the offense responded with a series of plays in the bottom of the ninth that would spell victory. Williamson led off the rally with a single to left field. After Biggers sacrificed Williamson over to second base, Knowles hit a ground ball fielder’s choice that advanced the freshman third baseman over to third with two outs. With extra innings lurking and the threat of more uncomfortable frigid action, Blue barreled up a John Parisi offering and shot a ground ball through the left side of the infield to score Williamson and earn the dramatic walk-off.
“Getting another walk-off win is big,” exclaimed Kostacopoulos. “We got off to a little bit of a rough start with three of our first four losses coming from walk-offs, but now we’ve gotten a couple. Like anything, we have a long season, but its good to see that belief and when we’re in this situation again hopefully this experience comes through.”
For the game, Navy outhit Marist, 8-7. Knowles was the only Midshipmen with multiple hits as the centerfielder had two. Six other batters had single hits.
Meenach earned the victory to improve to 1-1 in 2017.
Navy will close out its weekend on Sunday with a home matchup versus Central Connecticut State at 1 p.m. The Blue Devils and Red Foxes met earlier on Saturday and CCSU won an extra-inning pitchers’ duel, 3-2