April 6, 2014
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Navy baseball team (16-17, 2-6 PL) used a standout performance by Luke Gillingham in Game One to earn an important Patriot League series split with the Holy Cross Crusaders (10-17, 3-3 PL) on Sunday. Behind a career-best tying 12 strikeouts from Gillingham, the Mids won the first game 3-1 before falling to the Crusaders by a 6-3 score in the second contest.
Offensively in the doubleheader for the Mids, seniors Kash Manzelli (Dunwoody, Ga.) and David Norman (Fayetteville, Ga.) lead the way as Manzelli had four hits and two RBI over the afternoon, while Norman was 3-for-6 with a run scored. Both players had hits in all four games of the series.
On the mound, Gillingham (Coronado, Calif.) produced his best outing of the season and earned his first win of 2014 with a complete game five-hitter. The sophomore set down 12 Crusaders via strikeouts, including four in a row between the fifth and sixth innings. In the second game for Navy, freshman Tyler Ridgeway (Olympia, Wash.) recorded all four of his outs in relief with strikeouts.
"In Game One, Luke Gillingham was outstanding with 12 strikeouts in a seven-inning game. He located really well and had three pitches going; it was a really good ballgame," said Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "Game Two was a tough one where we got a lot of base hits, but just never strung them together to score runs."
Carrying over the momentum for Saturday's Game Two victory, the Mids started Sunday's doubleheader with a strong performance on both sides of the ball in the first inning. Gillingham struck out the first two Crusaders he faced before inducing a weak fly out to end the three-up, three-down inning. In the bottom of the first, Robert Currie (So., Atlanta, Ga.) lead off with a swinging strikeout, but reached first after Holy Cross' first baseman Bill Schlich dropped Connor Perry's attempted 2-3 putout. The speedy sophomore immediately made his presence known as he stole second base before moving to third on a single by Patrick Brady (Fr., Charlotte, N.C.). Currie would score the game's first run as a result of the next at bat when Manzelli grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
The score would stay at 1-0 in favor of the Mids into the fourth inning when Holy Cross finally had an answer for Gillingham. The Crusaders loaded the bases with two singles and a walk before Anthony Critelli drove in Nick Lovullo with a ground out to Travis Blue
(Fr., Orange, Calif.) at shortstop. Gillingham pitched around further damage with back-to-back strikeouts to end the frame.
After Gillingham struck out his eighth batter of the game and Adrian Chinnery (Fr., Wilmington, Del.) caught Bobby Indeglia trying to steal in the top of the fifth, the Mids came out and netted the game-winning runs in the bottom of the inning. Consecutive walks to Currie and Brady set the scene for Manzelli to plate both with a double to right field.
Spotted a two-run lead at 3-1, Gillingham locked in even further and struck out the side in the sixth inning. In the seventh, he got himself into a bit of trouble as Critelli reached with a leadoff infield single. An athletic play by Blue ranging into medium-range left field and making an over-the-shoulder basket catch gave Navy its first out. After Holy Cross connected for another single, Blue came through with his second pop-out catch to make it a two-on, two-out situation. A walk by Gillingham to Indeglia would draw Navy's pitching coach Ryan Mau out of the dugout to give his sophomore hurler a few final words of encouragement with the Patriot League's Preseason Player of the Year Evan Ocello stepping to the plate with the bases loaded in a two-run game. After a first-pitch ball, Gillingham painted the corners with back-to-back called strikes before luring Ocello into chasing strike three swinging to end the tense one hour, 45 minute contest in Navy's favor.
For the game, both teams registered five hits with Manzelli having a team-high two for Navy.
Gillingham earned the complete game victory with a final line of 7.0 innings pitched, 12 strikeouts and one run allowed on five hits and three walks. Donny Murray took the loss for the Crusaders.
In the second game, Holy Cross jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on Navy and its starter George Coughlin (Fr., Arvada, Colo.) with solo runs in both the first and second innings. The freshman hurler settled down after those rough opening frames and put the Crusaders down in order over the next two innings.
Navy's offense tested Holy Cross' starter Nate Walker with runners on base in each of the first four innings, but made little lee-way on scoreboard as the Mids were held scoreless. In the fifth with the score 2-0 in favor of the Crusaders, the Mids strung together three consecutive singles to load the bases, but unfortunately for the team, all three hits came with two outs and the rally was cut short during the next at bat with a ground out.
Holy Cross extended its lead to 4-0 in the top of the sixth courtesy of two hits, a walk and a wild pitch.
Navy put together its most productive inning of Game Two in the bottom of the seventh as singles by Blue and Norman and a hit by pitch of Currie loaded the bases for Brady, who came through with a clutch two-out single that scored Blue and Norman.
Trailing by just two runs at 4-2, the Mids kept the pressure on the Crusaders in the eighth with back-to-back singles by Leland Saile (Fr., Land O'Lakes, Fla.) and Drew Hayes (So., Collegeville, Pa.) to open play. Navy netted its third run of the game during the next at bat as Blue drew a walk, but Holy Cross' reliever Jon Escobar missed the strike zone and his catcher's mitt so badly with ball four that the pitched sailed to the back stop and allowed Saile to scamper in from third base. Escobar prevented further damage with three consecutive putouts to end the inning.
Holy Cross responded in the top of the ninth with two insurance runs that gave the contest a final score of 6-3 in favor of the visitors from Worcester, Mass.
For the game, Navy outhit Holy Cross, 13-10. Currie recorded a game-high three hits from his leadoff position in the lineup. Manzelli (2), Saile (2) and Norman (2) rounded out the quartet of Midshipmen with multiple hits.
Coughlin took the loss for Navy in the contest with a final line of 4.2 innings, zero strikeouts and two runs allowed on four hits and two walks. Walker earned the win for the Crusaders as he tossed seven innings of three-run ball. In a 1.1-inning relief appearance for the Mids, Tyler Ridgeway recorded a career-high four strikeouts in the sixth and seventh innings.
In its weekend split, Navy posted a .295 batting average with five extra-base hits and 20 runs scored. Its pitching staff recorded a 3.66 ERA with 29 strikeouts over 32.0 innings pitched.
"I feel a lot better about where we are as a club after this series," said Kostacopoulos. "We had 13 hits in the second game and put a lot of pressure on our opponent, but just needed a few big ones. Sometimes that happens and sometimes it doesn't. I feel that we're putting together better at bats and we just have to build off of this offensively."
"David [Norman] had a strong weekend with six hits, but someone who was under-the-radar was Adrian Chinnery at catcher," said Kostacopoulos. "He had a few key block and recovery plays and was able to throw two runners out on the base paths. At the plate, he came through with a couple of hits and really put together some good at bats. Those are two guys that haven't played a whole lot this year, but were called upon and really produced good results this weekend."
The Mids will be in action twice during the week with a home-and-home series with Maryland-Eastern Shore. After traveling to Princess Anne on Tuesday, the two teams will face off at Max Bishop Stadium on Wednesday. Both mid-week contests are scheduled for 3 p.m. first pitches. Navy's next Patriot League series will begin on Saturday, April 12 in Easton, Pa. with a four-game set at Lafayette.