Baseball Completes Weekend Sweep with 10-2 Win over NYIT
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Navy baseball team concluded its four-game series sweep of New York Tech on Sunday afternoon with a 10-2 victory at home at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium. A career-best relief appearance by Andrew Sauer (So., Johns Creek, Ga.) helped an early 3-2 lead hold up before the Mids (12-7) pulled away versus the Bears (2-13) over the final three innings. Sunday’s win helped Navy go 4-0 on the weekend and up its season-long win streak to nine.
“It was one of those games where we were fortunate enough to catch some breaks from an offensive perspective, though the key was Andrew Sauer,” remarked head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. “He came in, settled the game down and really pitched well for us. He allowed us to tack on a few late runs and pull away.
“I also thought we played really good defense. We were clean on the field and didn’t open up any doors for New York Tech. Our pitchers only walked two guys. We made our opponent earn their runs. We did a good job in that facet. We didn’t quite have the focus we would have liked offensively, but at the same time we did a good job with the other two parts of our game.”
Navy opened play on Sunday with three runs in the bottom of the first inning. The Mids took advantage of wildness by the Bears’ starting pitcher Ben Wright as he hit two of the first three batters that he faced in the form of Logan Knowles (Jr., Port Orchard, Wash.) and Stephen Born (Jr., Strafford, Pa.). With a single by Travis Blue (Sr., Orange, Calif.) sprinkled into the mix, Adrian Chinnery (Sr., Wilmington, Del.) made NYIT and Wright pay with an RBI single to make it 1-0. Freshman 3B Jacob Williamson (Sims, N.C.) came through with the only multi-RBI hit of the day as he slotted a double past NYIT’s third baseman and down the left field line to plate two.
Up 3-0, the Bears slowly scraped their way back into the game with single runs in the second and third innings.
The landscape of the game changed in the top of the third when Sauer entered the game in relief for Navy. The sophomore right-hander came into the game in a tense situation with runners on second and third after the Bears had pulled to within one run versus starter Rece Goodman (So., Irvine, Calif.). After hitting the first batter that he faced to load the bases, Sauer struck out Brandon Dowd swinging to end the third. From that point on Sauer struck out seven of the next 11 batters that he faced. NYIT didn’t record a hit off of Sauer until the top of the seventh inning.
With New York Tech neutralized, Navy was able to slowly extend its lead. In the bottom of the fourth, the hosts plated one run without recording a hit. Blue earned the RBI that stanza as he drew a bases loaded walk.
Up 4-2, the Mids made it 6-2 in the sixth with a Zach Biggers (Fr., Walhalla, S.C.) RBI single. Two batters later, the freshman came into score on a throwing error by the Bears’ shortstop.
Navy’s defense did the heavy lifting for Sauer in the top of the seventh as Blue flashed wide-reaching range on a ball up the middle as he slid and popped up in one motion to fire a strike over to Christian Hodge (So., Winder, Ga.) at first base. The frame ended with a sliding catch by Born in left field on a ball off the bat of Anthony Caradonna.
Over the seventh and eighth innings, the Mids added four more runs off Bear relievers with two runs in each frame. An RBI single by Evan Lowery (Fr., Williamsburg, Va.) started off the scoring in the seventh before Knowles drew a bases loaded walk to increase the score to 8-2. In the eighth, a throwing error plated Leland Saile (Sr., Land O’Lakes, Fla.) before Liam Lowery (So., Williamsburg, Va.) came up with a two-out RBI single to score Williamson.
Colin Brady (Jr., Seneca, S.C.) closed out the game for Navy in the top of the ninth with a quick three-up, three-down appearance.
For the game, Navy outhit NYIT, 8-7. Biggers and Evan Lowery were the only two Mids with multiple hits as the freshmen each recorded two, respectively.
Navy’s offense took advantage of seven walks, four hit by pitches and two wild pitches by NYIT pitchers on Sunday.
“We’re starting to develop a little better discipline at the plate, we don’t have wild swings and we don’t give up a lot of outs,” remarked Kostacopoulos. “Their starting pitcher today was effective wild because he never threw the ball in the same spot twice and he’d tie you up occasionally. At the same time, I don’t think we expanded so much that we got ourselves out. We got some baserunners on due to his wildness and kept the pressure on them that way.”
In tossing a career-high 5.1 innings with just one hit against, one walk and eight strikeouts, Sauer earned the victory on Sunday to improve to 1-1 in 2017. His previous career-high for innings pitched was 4.0 versus Georgetown on Feb. 28, 2017, while his personal-best for strikeouts in an appearance was four against CCSU last Friday, March 10 and four versus Saint Mary’s in the NCAA Tournament on June 4, 2016.
For the weekend, Navy posted a .382 batting average (55-144) with 47 runs scored, eight doubles, seven triples, one home run and five stolen bases. The Mids’ batters displayed keen plate discipline and recorded a 17:20 strikeout-to-walk ratio. As a team, Navy’s on-base percentage was .483 for the weekend.
The Mids’ pitching staff kept a tight grip on the Bears’ bats to the tune of a .190 batting average and 10 runs allowed for a 2.38 ERA. Eight pitchers turned in scoreless outings. As a group, 11 Navy pitchers combined for a 33:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The Mids walked two batters over the final 23 innings of play this weekend.
Defensively, the Mids registered a .986 fielding percentage with only two errors against in 34 innings on the diamond.
As a team, 29 Navy players appeared in games versus NYIT.
“It was a good weekend for us,” said Kostacopoulos. “We executed our offense really well over the first three games. We got to see a lot of different players play. We had almost our entire roster see game action so that’s always good. These guys come out here, practice every day and work hard for the team so you want to give them opportunities.
“Two players who really used those opportunities were Zach Biggers and Evan Lowery. Over the last 10 days, Zach has really made a big difference for us. In Evan’s case we saw a lot of his potential over the past four games. That’s how you want to grow as a team.”
Navy will be back in action on Wednesday with a non-conference game on the road at Delaware State. The game between the Mids and Hornets is set for a 3:00 p.m. first pitch in Dover, Del.