Nelson Pitches Navy to Twinbill Split Against Lehigh
April 4, 2010
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Navy baseball starting pitcher Ben Nelson (Fr./Winter Springs, Fla.) fired eight shutout innings to lead the Midshipmen to a doubleheader split with Lehigh on Sunday afternoon at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium. The Midshipmen (19-10, 2-2 PL) blanked Lehigh (8-16, 2-2 PL) in game two, 7-0, prior to the Mountain Hawks earning a 5-2 win in the opener.
Nelson, who was making his first-career appearance in Patriot League action and second-career start, faced only five batters over the minimum and needed just 99 pitches to get through eight innings. He scattered four hits and one walk with five strikeouts. The right-hander allowed only one runner to reach second base during the entire afternoon and held Lehigh to just one hit during his final-five innings.
"That's a pretty good line that Ben gave us today," stated Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "He never gave them any opportunities for a big inning. He kept the ball at their kneecaps during the entire game and had command of three pitches. He pitched really well."
Navy's offense pounded out 14 hits to give Nelson plenty of run support in game two. Leadoff hitter Andrew Hahn (So./Ellicott City, Md.) went 4-for-5 with two doubles, two runs scored and two RBIs to lead the attack. Matthew Curley (Sr./Boston, Mass.) went 2-for-2 with a hit by pitch, sacrifice bunt and two RBIs. Alex Azor (So./Miami, Fla.) finished 2-for-4 with a double, a triple and three RBIs, while Dylan Wheeler (Fr./Novato, Calif.) delivered a pair of base knocks.
"Andrew played really well today," said Kostacopoulos. "He was able to drive the pitch away, go up the middle and turn on the inside pitch. Among his four hits today, two went up the middle, one went to left and one went to right. He had a pretty good weekend."
Navy took a 1-0 lead in the first with a RBI-single by Michael Speciale (Sr./Pearland, Texas). Two innings later, Azor pounded a two-run triple to the gap in left-center and scored a Speciale sacrifice fly.
The Midshipmen extended the lead in the fifth and sixth innings. Azor delivered a RBI-double to score Hahn in the fifth, followed one inning later by a Hahn two-run single up the middle that made the score 7-0.
In the opener, Lehigh jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second before Navy tied the score in the third. With two outs and nobody on, Wheeler drew a walk and moved to second on a Curley single up the middle. After a throwing error loaded the bases, Speciale roped a two-run single to left-center.
Lehigh immediately responded with a run in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. The Midshipmen would have chances to tie or take the lead in each of those frames, but they ended up stranding six runners within that span - including the bases loaded in the fifth.
"We had a couple of opportunities in the first game and needed to get some clutch hits," Kostacopoulos stated. "In order to win close games, you need them and we didn't get them. Especially in a seven-inning game, if you don't capitalize on your chances, this is what will happen."
Starter Wes Olson (Jr./Indianapolis, Ind.) was tagged for the loss, as he allowed five runs on nine hits over 5.1 innings with four walks and two strikeouts.
Curley was the lone Navy batter to record a multi-hit effort in the opener, as he went 2-for-4. The Midshipmen were outhit by the Mountain Hawks, 9-5.
Navy's defense did not commit an error in either of the two contests and finished the four-game weekend series with only a pair of defensive miscues.
"The defense played pretty consistently all weekend," said Kostacopoulos. "We were able to turn five double plays and really made no blunders. The defense has been solid for us during the last-three weeks."
Navy will return to action this Tuesday at 3 p.m., as it hosts George Washington at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium. Admission is free for all home Navy baseball games and live stats will be available through GameTracker on www.NavySports.com(.)
- Sunday's game two shutout of Lehigh was Navy's second of the spring ... it was Navy's first shutout in a Patriot League game since a 4-0 victory at Bucknell on April 19, 2008 ... it was Navy's first shutout in a nine-inning league game since a 2-0 triumph against Army in Camden Yards on April 23, 2006.
- Ben Nelson's eight innings of work in game two on Sunday was a career high and tied for the longest by Navy pitcher this season ... Sam Long also went eight innings in his start against Monmouth on March 14 in Annapolis.
- With Ben Nelson's performance, Navy has totaled 15 quality starts this spring in 10 over the last-17 contests.
- Andrew Hahn's four hits, two doubles and two RBIs were all career highs ... he also tied a career high with two runs scored ... against Lehigh this weekend, Hahn batted .889 (8-for-9) with three doubles.
- Navy's defense recorded its sixth and seventh error-free games on Sunday ... over the last-21 games, the Midshipmen have produced a .971 fielding percentage and have turned 24 double plays.
- With Andrew Hahn's pinch-single in the opener, Navy's pinch hitters have combined to bat .458 (22-for-48) this spring.
- Navy's bullpen fired 2.2 innings of hitless, shutout baseball between the two games on Sunday.
- The Midshipmen are now 58-33 (.637) all-time against Lehigh, including a stellar 29-10 (.744) mark in games played between the two teams in Annapolis.