Baseball Sweeps Saturday Doubleheader at Holy Cross
WORCESTER, Mass. – The Navy baseball team opened its three-game series at Holy Cross on Saturday with a sweep of doubleheader action. The Mids (25-8, 9-4 PL) defeated the Crusaders (10-13, 5-4 PL) by a score of 1-0 in game one and 9-5 in game two. The visiting Mids received another stellar pitching outing by Noah Song (Jr., Claremont, Calif.) in the first contest before using a quick 5-0 start and clutch late-game execution to earn the victory in the nightcap at Fitton Field.
Song led Navy’s individual effort in the first game as the junior right-hander threw a complete game shutout with nine strikeouts and just two hits allowed over seven innings. Game two’s starter Sean Kamhoot (Sr., Gainesville, Fla.) also was credited with a quality start as he scattered two runs (one earned) over 7.0 innings. He allowed eight hits and struck out three in the win.
At the plate during the doubleheader, Alex Smith (So., Stafford, Va.), Logan Knowles (Sr., Port Orchard, Wash.) and Zach Biggers (So., Walhalla, S.C.) led the way for the Mids. Smith had a career day as the sophomore catcher had four hits in game two, including two doubles. Knowles drove in a team-high three runs, while hitting .429 (3-7) and getting on base five times during the course of play. Biggers joined Knowles with multiple RBIs as the Mids’ second baseman drove in one run in each game, while reaching base safely in four out of his eight plate appearances.
“We rode the back of Noah in the first game and scratched out enough offensively,” remarked head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. “Our leadoff hitter gets a triple and is driven during the next at bat and then it was all Noah. He was able to shut them down and hold them to two hits. He did a real solid job and had a good breaking ball today. I think that really helped him against Holy Cross.
“In game two, we got out to a fast start, but what was really important was that we did a good job in the late innings extending our lead. We scored a sixth run in the eighth inning and then got three insurance runs in the ninth. That was huge because outs were hard to come by at the end. We responded when we needed to and got good contributions from a lot of different people. I thought Alex Smith played great today! He was very good behind the plate, he threw a couple of runners out and he chipped in on offense. He did a very good job with all aspects of the game today.”
Game One: Navy 1 – Holy Cross 0
The story of game one can succinctly be captured around two at bats and a strong pitching performance. In the first at bat of the game, Knowles led off with a triple to right field off of Holy Cross’ starter Pat McGowan. In the ensuing at bat, Biggers made contact and grounded a ball to third base, which allowed Knowles to come in to make it an early 1-0 game.
Little did the fans at Fitton Field know on Saturday, but that would be the only hit for Navy and only run of the seven-inning ball game.
McGowan quickly gathered himself after that opening inning and shut down the Mids to the tune of four walks and zero hits over the final six innings of action.
Spotted a slim 1-0 lead, Song knew that his margin of error was minuscule and he battled for 111 pitches to make it hold up for his team. Song no-hit Holy Cross for the first 4.1 innings until Riley Livingston broke up the no-no with a single to left field in the bottom of the fifth. Holy Cross’ second and last hit of the game came in the sixth when Austin Masel singled.
Song ran into trouble on a few occasions, including the second inning as the Crusaders had runners on second and third and one out following a walk, fielding error and sacrifice bunt. Song reared back and kept the hosts off the scoreboard with back-to-back strikeouts.
The junior hurler also helped himself negate a two-out walk in the fourth as he immediately picked off the base runner. Smith aided his battery mate with a caught stealing put out in the sixth inning, as well.
For the game, Holy Cross outhit Navy, 2-1.
Song’s outing marked his third straight complete game in league play and second straight shutout as he silenced Lafayette in a 6-0 contest last Saturday. He has now hurled 19.0 straight scoreless innings. The last time he was scored against was on March 24 versus Holy Cross in the fourth inning. His final line on Saturday was 7.0 innings, two hits, no runs, four walks and nine strikeouts.
Game Two: Navy 9 – Holy Cross 5
For the second straight game on Saturday, the Mids opened with a first-inning run. Once again, Biggers was a catalyst as he singled up the middle with one out and subsequently moved to second on a wild pitch. After advancing to third on a single by Stephen Born (Sr., Strafford, Pa.), the second baseman came into score on an RBI ground out by Evan Lowery (So., Williamsburg, Va.).
Up 1-0, Kamhoot put down the Crusaders in order in the bottom half of the first inning. The quick turnaround helped his offense that got back to the plate and did some more damage on the scoreboard versus Holy Cross’ starter Garrett Keough. Navy sent eight men to the plate and came away with four runs on three hits, an error and two fielder’s choices. With the bases loaded and one out, Knowles shot a single through the right side of the infield to score two. Biggers, the next batter, drove in the Mids’ third run of the inning with a single to center field. The final run was driven in by Born on a fielder’s choice ground out.
With the score 5-0, Holy Cross pecked away at the deficit with single runs in the bottom of the second and fourth innings to tighten it to a 5-2 contest.
Solid pitching by Kamhoot and the Crusaders’ long reliever, Liam Dvorak, moved the game along at 5-2 with scoreless fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
With Dvorak out of the game after the seventh, Navy’s offense experienced a revitalization in the eighth off of the newly-inserted Zane Hedaya. Smith sparked the Mids as he led off the frame with a double down the left field line. After getting sacrificed over to third, he scampered into score on an RBI single up the middle by Knowles.
That sixth run would be important as Holy Cross responded in the bottom of the eighth with two runs to make it a 6-4 game.
The back-and-forth action continued into the ninth as Navy came through with a three-spot on the scoreboard. With two on and one out, Smith came to the plate versus Danny Barlok. During his at bat, Smith was initially hit by a pitch, but told by the umpire to stay in the box and continue his at bat. That exchange proved profitable for Smith and the Mids as he responded with an RBI double to left field. A squeeze bunt by Michael Coritz (So., Clifton, Va.) and throwing error netted Navy its eighth and ninth runs of the game.
Up 9-4, Navy saw Holy Cross push across one run in the bottom of the ninth, but that would be all as the game went final at 9-5.
For the contest, Navy outhit Holy Cross, 14-11. Smith (4), Knowles (2), Biggers (2), Jacob Williamson (2) and Christian Hodge (2) all recorded multiple hits for the Mids. Prior to Saturday, Smith had only tallied two hits in a game on three separate occasions for his entire career.
Kamhoot earned the win with a final line of 7.0 innings, eight hits, two runs (one earned), one walk and three strikes. Jared Leins (Fr., Raleigh, N.C.) garnered his fourth save of the season as he went 1.1 innings with one hit, one run, two walks and a strikeout.
“Sean gave us a solid start,” said Kostacopoulos. “He had three pitches going and had good command throughout. When he makes his pitches, he has a lot of success. He does a good job of competing and keeping us in games.”
Navy and Holy Cross will wrap up their three-game series on Sunday with a 1 p.m. contest at Fitton Field.