March 25, 2006
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Princeton starting pitcher Eric Walz struck out seven in seven strong innings as the Tigers shut out Navy, 4-0, in baseball action on Saturday afternoon at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium. The Midshipmen fell to 17-8-1 with the loss, while the Tigers improved their record to 4-10 and snapped a seven-game losing streak.
"We are definitely slumping as a team, offensively," stated Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "We just have to fight and battle our way out of it right now."
Princeton jumped out to a 1-0 lead courtesy of a Zach Wendkos RBI-single. For the next-five and a half innings, Walz and Navy starter Mitch Harris (Mt. Holly, N.C.) battled in a pitcher's duel. Walz did not allow a Navy baserunner to reach third base on the day, while Harris struck out eight Tigers between the second and sixth innings.
In the seventh, Princeton struck for three runs with two outs. After the visitors posted back-to-back-to-back singles with one out to load the bases, Harris recorded a strikeout of Dan DeGeorge. With two outs, Andrew Salini fought off the first pitch and blooped a single to center beyond a diving effort by shortstop Dominic Lopez (Quincy, Mich.) that allowed all of the runners to score on the play and push Princeton's lead to 4-0.
"The infield bouncer to third and the two-out popup to center, those are plays that we need to make in order to win," commented Kostacopoulos. "They were two critical plays in that inning that if we make those plays, it could have stayed 1-0 after that inning."
Navy put runners on first and second with two outs following a Harris single in the eighth inning, but Princeton reliever Gavin Fabian got out of the inning with the flyout.
Harris picked up his first loss after winning his first-seven starts of the 2006 campaign despite striking out 10 Tigers and walking only two on the day. The sophomore yielded nine hits and four runs, all of which were earned, during his 91-pitch effort on Saturday.
"I believe Mitch (Harris) pitched better today than he did last week," Kostacopoulos said. "He really attacked some guys, executed his game plan. We got the same great performance out of him today as we have in the last-seven weeks. However, we are not going to win if we don't score runs."
Navy relievers James Lee (Asheville, N.C.) and Joe Koessler (Knoxville, Tenn.) hurled 2.1 innings of scoreless relief. Lee struck out one in 1.1 innings and stranded two Princeton runners in scoring position in relief of Harris in the seventh. Koessler came in the ninth and struck out the side in order.
Wendkos and Micah Kaplan each posted two hits for Princeton, while Derek Beckman scored twice in his 1-for-4 performance at the plate.
The rubber game of the three-game set will take place tomorrow at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium. Navy won the first game of the series over Princeton, 2-1 in 10 innings, on Friday afternoon. First pitch is slated for 12 noon and live stats will be available via GameTracker on www.navysports.com.