Home Runs Power Mids to 9-5 Victory over Princeton
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Navy baseball team used clutching two-out hitting and a dominant first six innings on the mound to grab a 6-0 lead before eventually holding onto a 9-5 victory on Friday afternoon action at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium. The Mids (14-7) received a three-run home run by Liam Lowery (So., Williamsburg, Va.) in the bottom of the second to open up a lead that starting pitcher Noah Song (So., Claremont, Calif.) would help control throughout the majority of his outing as the right-hander struck out 10 Tigers (2-12) over his 6.1 innings in the game. An eighth-inning two-run home run by Leland Saile (Sr., Land O’Lakes, Fla.) plated late insurance runs for Navy in the team’s 11th straight win in a row.
“Noah pitched outstanding today,” remarked head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. “That was his best outing of the year, though unfortunately we didn’t play great defense and that ran his pitch count up a bit. We had to go get him a little earlier than we would have like to, but he had everything working this afternoon.”
“On the other side, we continued to play good offense. We got 13 hits, stole some bases, moved runners and then got big hits in home runs by Liam Lowery and Leland Saile. That was great. We have to keep doing that on offense. Coming back tomorrow we definitely need to play better defense.”
The action on Friday began with host Midshipmen posting three runs with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the second inning. After Jacob Williamson (Fr., Sims, N.C.) and Evan Lowery (Fr., Williamsburg, Va.) recorded back-to-back two-out singles up the middle, the older of the two Lowery brothers, Liam made Princeton pay for not getting that third out as the left-handed batter powered an opposite field drive over the left field wall for his first collegiate home run.
Up 3-0, Song quickly got his offense back on the field in the third with two more strikeouts in the top of the frame. The punch outs were the fifth and sixth of the game for Song at the point, as he retired one Tiger in the first and three in the second inning. In the bottom of the stanza, Navy immediately loaded the bases as its first three first hitters, Logan Knowles (Jr., Port Orchard, Wash.), Travis Blue (Sr., Orange, Calif.) and Stephen Born (Jr., Strafford, Pa.) reached via a walk, single to center field and an infield bunt single, respectively. Back-to-back sacrifice flies by Saile and Adrian Chinnery (Sr., Wilmington, Del.) helped alleviate the congestion on the base paths and increase Navy’s lead to 5-0.
Song’s dominance on the mound continue over the fourth, fifth and sixth innings as Princeton was able to muster up just one base hit. The California native retired three Tiger hitters with strikeouts to run his tally up to nine in the game.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Mids made it a six-run game with another two-out rally. Knowles got the offensive wheels in motion as he lined a two-out double down the right field line. He would come into score in the next at bat as Blue hit a looping single to center field.
Princeton finally got to Song in the top of the seventh inning as the sophomore’s pitch count crept over the century mark. After a leadoff strikeout of Paul Tupper, the Tigers recorded four straight singles to break into the scoring column at 6-2. With Princeton’s first runs on the scoreboard, Song was removed from the game. Two inherited runners would later score to close the statline on Song at 6.1 innings, six hits, four runs, two walks and 10 strikeouts. His strikeout total is the second-most in his career over 19 starts.
With the score 6-4, reliever Sean Kamhoot (Jr., Gainesville, Fla.) held serve over the eighth inning. A leadoff double by Tupper threatened Navy in the top of the inning, but Kamhoot retired the next three batters in order without a ball leaving the infield.
The Mids added three insurance runs in the bottom of the frame as a fielder’s choice ground ball off the bat of Blue plated Michael Coritz (Fr., Clifton, Va.) before Saile came through with Navy’s sixth two-out RBI on the day with a two-run blast over the right-center field wall. The home run was Saile’s second of the season and gave him 30 RBIs through 21 games. His career-high for a single season was 31 as a junior in 2016.
Down 9-4, Princeton scored one run off Kamhoot in the top of the ninth before a pair of senior hurlers closed out that game as Brian Wikoff (Sr., Shrewsbury, N.J.) and Jett Meenach (Sr., Flower Mound, Texas) got the final three outs.
In the 9-5 victory, Navy outhit Princeton, 13-11. The top-four hitters in the Mids’ lineup all had multiple hits with Knowles notching a team-high three. Blue, Born and Saile all had two hits, as well as the Mids’ six-hole hitter, Williamson.
Of Navy’s 13 hits, eight came with two-outs and consequently six of the team’s nine runs came with two outs as well.
“We had really good approaches at the plate by all the guys in our lineup today,” said Kostacopoulos of the Mids’ two-out success. “We didn’t try to do too much. In the last few games, we’ve tried to stay in the middle of the field and we’ve found a lot of holes. That’s a good job of the team executing.”
On the mound, Song improved to 4-1 on the season and Meenach was credited with his second save of 2017.
Navy and Princeton will pick up the second of three days of action on Saturday beginning at 12 p.m. The Mids and Tigers will play a doubleheader with game one slated for seven innings and game two for nine.
-Navy currently holds the second longest current win streak in NCAA D1 baseball as Missouri’s 20-game streak came to an end this afternoon versus Arkansas. Oregon State plays tonight and has won 12 straight.
-The last time Navy won 10 or more games in a row was in 1986 when the Mids won 14 straight from April 12 to May 10.