Navy Sweeps Home Patriot League Doubleheader over Lafayette
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Navy baseball team improved to 4-2 in Patriot League play on Saturday with a home doubleheader sweep of Lafayette. The Mids (21-12, 4-2 PL) opened the twinbill with a 4-1 victory on the strength of 6.2 innings of strong pitching by Noah Song (So., Claremont, Calif.) before coming from behind in game two to win 10-6 with seven runs over their final two at bats. Travis Blue (Sr., Orange, Calif.) led the comeback rally for Navy with a double, triple and four RBIs over his two plate appearances in the seventh and eighth innings at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium.
“In the first game we got a really good performance by Noah,” remarked head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. “We left some really good scoring opportunities out there to possibly stretch out the lead, but Noah overcame a tough first inning and did a really good job the rest of the way. We really leaned on him in the first game.
“In the second game we got great relief pitching. Brian Wikoff dealt with a tough seventh inning when the game’s outcome was still up for grabs and only gave up one unearned run. He did a great job. Travis Blue was the guy today for us in the comeback. He had a big hit in the seventh and big hit in the eighth; that was the majority of our offense. We struggled to string a lot of things together at the plate, but at the same time we came away with two wins against a league opponent. We’ll move on and look to play better tomorrow.”
Offensively, Blue led Navy’s attack on the day with three hits (two for extra bases), three runs scored and a team-high five RBIs over the two games. The Mids banged out 20 hits and 14 runs in the doubleheader and seven players ended with multiple hits. Stephen Born (Jr., Strafford, Pa.) and Adrian Chinnery (Sr., Wilmington, Del.) augmented Blue’s output as each player recorded two RBIs. As part of Chinnery’s 2-for-6 showing at the plate, both of his hits were doubles.
On the mound, Song’s game one performance highlighted Navy’s 16.0 innings of pitching. The sophomore right-hander came one out short of notching the complete game as he threw 6.2 innings with six hits, two walks and one run allowed, while striking out seven. The Mids’ bullpen starred in game two as Brian Wikoff (Sr., Shrewsbury, N.J.), Trey Seabrooke (Fr., Jacksonville, Fla.) and Jett Meenach (Sr., Flower Mound, Texas) went a combined 5.0 innings and held the Leopards to two hits, one walk and two unearned runs. Wikoff struck out two in his 2.1 innings.
Navy 4 – Lafayette 1
Game one on Saturday opened with a significant Lafayette feel to it as the visiting Leopards jumped on Song and sent seven players to bat in the top of the first inning. After a leadoff hit-by-pitch to Steven Cohen and a single by Quentin Bubb made it first and third with no outs, Song retired his first Leopard as John Selsor hit a sacrifice fly to right field. A double to left field by Dan Leckie gave Lafayette runners on the corners again before a second hit-by-pitch loaded the bases. Song navigated the thin line between a manageable one-run inning and a big multi-run inning with success as he struck out Spencer Rouse and got Alex Woinski to ground into a fielder’s choice.
With the score 1-0 in favor of Lafayette, Song settled down almost immediately in the second inning as he forced a weak pop up to shortstop before notching back-to-back strikeouts looking to close the frame.
In the bottom half of the second, Navy knotted the score at 1-1 as Leland Saile (Sr., Land O’Lakes, Fla.) led off with a ground-rule double over the right field fence. Two batters later, a misplayed fly ball to center field off the bat of Jacob Williamson (Fr., Sims, N.C.) allowed Saile to score.
The Mids would keep the proverbial pedal to the medal in their next at bat in the bottom of the third as the first three hitters all reached with Logan Knowles (Jr. Port Orchard, Wash.) drawing a walk and Blue and Born reaching via infield bunt singles. Knowles scored during the ensuing at bat as Saile grounded into a double play to make it 2-1 Navy. Blue scored to extend the Mids’ newfound lead out to 3-1 when Evan Lowery (Fr., Williamsburg, Va.) singled to left field.
A two-run cushion is all that Song would need to lock down the victory as the California native hung zeroes in each of the final four innings. Lafayette tried to trip him up in the top of the fourth with back-to-back singles to open to frame, but slick middle infield work eventually eliminated both of those runners.
Navy tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth as Chinnery led off with a ground-rule double to right-center field. After a Lafayette error moved the senior catcher over to third, Blue sacrificed himself in a squeeze bunt up the first base line to drive in Chinnery.
Up 4-1, Song nearly closed out the contest, but a two-out triple by Bubb forced Navy’s hand to go to the bullpen and dial up Meenach for the one-out save. The senior sidearmer did just that as he forced Selsor into a one-pitch ground out to end the contest.
For the game, Navy outhit Lafayette, 8-6. Lowery led the list of seven Mids with hits as the freshman registered two. Four of Navy’s hits were doubles, including three of the extra-base variety.
Song earned the victory to improve to 5-2 on the season and Meenach notched his fourth save of 2017.
Navy 10 – Lafayette 6
The second game on Saturday had a much more wide-open feel to it as the two teams’ offenses combined for 16 runs and 19 hits, while the both defenses struggled a bit with five total errors.
After George Coughlin (Sr., Arvada, Colo.) shut down Lafayette in order in the top of the first inning, Navy took an early 1-0 lead as Knowles led off with a double down the right field line. Following a sacrifice bunt advanced him to third base, the junior centerfielder came into score on an RBI single by Saile.
Coughlin quickly disposed of the Leopards again in the second as he struck out two batters to run his in-game total to three.
Lafayette got on the scoreboard in the top of the third and tied the game with a single run. The team would then increase its lead out to 3-1 with two more runs in the ensuing fourth inning.
The Leopards’ two-run advantage was short lived as the Mids responded right back in the bottom of the fourth with two runs of their own. A two-out two-RBI double to right-center field by Chinnery did the damage as both Saile and Zach Biggers (Fr., Walhalla, S.C.) came into score.
Lafayette scored for its third straight inning in the fifth and chased Coughlin from the game as a triple and squeeze bunt made it 4-3. Seabrooke was ushered out of the bullpen for Navy and the freshman quickly put a halt to the Leopards’ rally as he forced a double play line out to Williamson at third base.
The game continued at a 4-3 pace into the seventh as both Seabrooke and Lafayette’s starting pitcher Brett Kreyer held the line.
Things opened up in the top of the seventh as both teams scored. The visitors briefly extended their lead to two at 5-3 before Navy got into Lafayette’s bullpen and had its way. In the bottom of the seventh, seven Mids came to the plate and three scored as Chinnery and Christian Hodge (So., Winder, Ga.) were both plated by Blue on a triple to centerfield. It should be noted that in Blue’s at bat the senior shortstop connected for his triple on pitch number 12 versus Mark Anderson as he had fouled off seven pitches prior. Blue came into score in Navy’s next at bat as Born ripped a double to centerfield.
Now up 6-5, Navy salted the game away with four more runs in the eighth as the team recorded four hits. Once again it was clutch two-out hitting that did the trick for the Mids as Hodge came through with a single to right to score Biggers before Blue added two RBIs to his total on a double down the left field line. Born drove in the final run of the frame on a single through the right side.
With the score 10-5, Lafayette scored an inconsequential unearned run in the top of the ninth to close the game at a 10-6 final result.
For the contest, Navy outhit Lafayette, 12-7. Knowles, Blue and Born all had two hits to pace the Mids’ offense as all nine starters recorded at least one hit in the game.
For his 2.1 innings of two-hit relief during Navy’s comeback, Wikoff was credited with the victory to move to 1-0 on the year. The win was Wikoff’s first since April 29, 2015 as the senior has battled back from missing his entire junior season do to arm surgery.
Navy and Lafayette will close out their four-game series on Sunday as the two teams will face off in another doubleheader with the first pitch of game one set for 12 p.m. at Max Bishop Stadium.
With his start in game one, Travis Blue has now played in and started 200 straight games for Navy beginning with the first game of his freshman season in 2014 ... Game two on Saturday, marked game number 201 ... He is the only player in the NCAA DI with such as streak.