March 31, 2012
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -
The Navy baseball team dropped both games of a doubleheader to Army on a windy, overcast Saturday afternoon at Max Bishop Stadium. Army starting pitcher Chris Rowley held the Midshipmen to just one hit in game one in a 2-0 Black Knight victory. In game two, Army scored a pair of runs in the fifth and sixth innings that turned out to be the difference in a 6-2 win.
"Game one was really a pitchers' duel. Chris Rowley really threw very well and you have to tip your hat to him," said Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "We just did not play good baseball in game two."
After Alex Azor reached base on an error in Navy's first at-bat of game one, Rowley went on to retire 15 consecutive Mids. An error by Army third baseman Harold Earls in the bottom of the sixth gave Navy just its second base runner of the game. Azor broke up Rowley's no-hitter bid later in the inning with a two-out infield single.
Trailing, 2-0, Azor's hit gave Navy runners at first and third base with two outs and its best scoring opportunity of the game. But Rowley was able to induce another ground ball for the final out and keep Navy off the scoreboard.
Rowley retired the side in the bottom of the seventh to improve to 6-0 on the year.
Army scored the only run it would need in the top of the first inning on a two-out RBI single by Mark McCants.
The Black Knights got their second run of the game in the top of the fourth inning with the help of two sacrifice bunts. A sacrifice bunt by Cody Murtle and wild pitch helped move McCants to third base. Alex Jensen then brought Murtle home with another sacrifice bunt to make the score 2-0.
Like his counterpart on the mound, Navy starter Ben Nelson did his part to limit the opposition's offense. He scattered just four hits after the first inning and finished the game with three strikeouts.
"Ben hung in there after that first inning," said Kostacopoulos. "He wasn't as sharp early, but certainly got better as the game moved along and kept us in there."
With game two scoreless in the bottom of the fourth inning, Army starting pitcher Nick Dignacco issued a walk and hit Chance Jones on a full count to give the Mids runners on first and second with no outs. Later, with two outs, Grant LaTerza singled to load the bases for Dylan Wheeler.
Wheeler battled Dignacco and sliced a pair of foul balls down the left field line and then the right field line that would have brought in runs, but both were just outside fair territory by inches. Dignacco then got Wheeler to strikeout to end the Navy's threat.
Army followed in the top of the fifth by pushing across two runs off RBI singles by Zach Price and Kevin McKague to take a 2-0 lead.
Andrew Johnson made it 3-0 in the top of the sixth inning when his single to center field brought in Jensen. A two-out error later in the inning allowed the Black Knights to extend their lead to 4-0.
Facing Army reliever Gunnar Carroll in the bottom of the sixth, Jones belted a double to the wall in left-center field. Three batters later, Wheeler brought in Navy's first run of the day with an RBI single to make it a 4-1 game.
The Black Knights got the run back in the top of the eighth, but Wheeler kept Navy within three with another RBI single in the bottom of the frame.
Earls gave Army a 6-2 lead with an RBI double in the top of the ninth.
Azor drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the ninth and an error by Jensen allowed Simonsen to reach first to give Navy two base runners. But McKague, who earlier moved from first base to the mound, then retired three of four Navy hitters to end the game.
Dignacco improved to 2-2 with the win as he yielded just two hits in five and one-third innings, while McKague picked up his fifth save.
Navy starting pitcher Johnny Schoberl went five and two-thirds innings, allowing four runs (two earned) off eight hits before giving way to Jordan Heller in the sixth. In taking the loss, Schoberl is now 3-2 on the year.
Army's win in game two ensured the Star for the Black Knights. Should the two teams split the series, the Star goes to the winner of game one.
The two teams will conclude the four-game set on Sunday with a doubleheader beginning at noon. Sunday's first game will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.