March 27, 2014
BALTIMORE – In its final tune-up before opening Patriot League play, the Navy baseball team (13-11) put forth a complete team-effort on Thursday at UMBC and came away with a 9-7 victory. With production throughout its lineup and eight combined pitchers appearing on the mound, the Mids won their first road after 17 straight contests at Max Bishop Stadium.
Robert Currie (So., Atlanta, Ga.) led Navy’s offense with three hits, two runs scored and a double. Brandon Beans (Sr., Hartsville, S.C.) was the team’s leading run producer as he registered a game-high three RBIs and a double.
On the mound, Michael McCormick (Fr., Speedway, Ind.) started for the Mids and went two innings before giving way to seven of his teammates. George Coughlin (Fr., Arvada, Colo.) was next into the game for Navy and hurled two scoreless innings to earn the win. In total, the staff struck out nine UMBC hitters.
“It was a solid game where everyone contributed in what became a great team win,” said Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. “We used eight pitchers and a few bench players and you can look back throughout the game and everyone did something to help us win.”
The Mids got on the scoreboard early in the top of the first as Drew Hayes (So., Collegeville, Pa.) came around to score after initially reaching on a walk. Kash Manzelli (Sr., Dunwoody, Ga.) advanced Hayes to third on a single to set up a Beans sacrifice fly.
UMBC tied it up in the second inning off of McCormick as the Retrievers took advantage off a one-out hit by pitch to Mark Esposito. Two batters later, Esposito came in to tie the game on a Jake Barnes RBI.
With the scored knotted, Navy would rattle off six unanswered runs between the third and fifth innings to break the game open. In the third, Jack Keller (Jr., Ballston Spa, N.Y.) crushed a pitch into the left-center field gap to net himself a triple. The next batter, Travis Blue (Fr., Orange, Calif.) plated Keller with an RBI ground out.
In the fourth, the Mids manufactured three runs on two hits and a UMBC error. Beans came through with the big hit for Navy as he had a two-RBI double to drive in Currie and Hayes. Keller concluded the Mids’ scoring with a sacrifice fly RBI of Beans.
The final two runs of the visitors’ streak came in the fifth when Currie and Hayes went back-to-back with RBI doubles.
Down 7-1, UMBC scored a pair in the bottom of the sixth to tighten the contest to a four-run margin.
Navy quickly responded in the top of seventh with a solo run, as Ryan Turner (Boone, N.C.) led off with a hit by pitch. Three batters later, the sophomore DH came in to score off of a Hayes single to left field.
The Retrievers made one final push to overtake the Mids with three runs in the bottom of the eighth to turn an 8-3 game into a pressure-filled 8-6 matchup.
The combination of Connor Deneen (So., Tustin, Calif.) and Patrick Brady (Fr., Charlotte, N.C.) netted Navy an important insurance run in the top of the ninth as Deneen walked and advanced to second on wild pitch. Brady got his teammate 90 feet closer with a well-placed sacrifice bunt before Deneen scurried home on a wild pitch to the backstop.
UMBC challenged Navy’s 9-6 lead in the bottom of the ninth by loading the bases with one out, but Andrew Bartek (So., Jefferson, Ga.) came in with two on and no outs and limited the damage. He allowed just one inherited run to score before striking out Rob McCabe swinging to end the game.
In the 9-7 game, UMBC outhit Navy, 12-10. Nine of the Mids’ hits came from the top five hitters, including multiple base knocks by Currie (3), Hayes (2) and Keller (2).
“We’ve gone through a lot of different lineups in the first half of the season, but this combination recently has started clicking,” said Kostacopoulos. “Obviously, Robert has been great in the leadoff spot and Drew has been hitting well in the two-spot; we moved Jack in the five-hole and he came through with some big hits today. The whole top of the order has been strong, but when you get your number one and number two guys on all the time, you’re going to score some runs.”
Coughlin earned the win with two scoreless innings of relief behind McCormick. The freshman righty improves to 2-2 on the year. Coughlin was one of four Navy relievers with clean outings as he was joined by Charlie LaMar (Jr., Clearwater, Fla.), who shut down UMBC three-up, three-down in the fifth and Kevin McKelvey (Fr., West Covina, Calif.), who went five-up, five-down over the sixth and seventh innings. Bartek was the final Midshipmen with a scoreless outing as he was credited with the save for his clutch work in the ninth.
“I thought our pitchers did a good job today,” said Kostacopoulos. “A few times they caught bad breaks with hits that found holes, but they went in there and challenged hitters just like Coach Mau asks them to do. We only walked one batter and struck out nine so they did a good job off attacking the opposition. We may have given up some runs, but they did what they’re coached to do”
Navy will be back in action this weekend with its Patriot League opening series at Bucknell. Beginning on Saturday at 12 p.m., the Mids and Bison will play a pair of doubleheaders in Lewisburg, Pa.