Nelson Pitches Navy to Twinbill Split with Army
April 11, 2010
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Navy rookie right-hander Ben Nelson (Fr./Winter Springs, Fla.) fired a complete game in the opener to propel the Midshipmen to a baseball doubleheader split with Army on Sunday afternoon in front of 1,717 fans at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium. The Mids (21-13, 3-5 Patriot League) won the opener, 4-2, before the Black Knights (15-11, 6-2) took game two, 5-2.
"I thought there was some hard-nosed, good college baseball played today," stated Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "All 16 innings were contested and no team led by more than four runs during the entire day."
Nelson, the reigning Patriot League Rookie of the Week, was once again stellar in the opener for the Mids. He scattered six hits and two runs over his seven-inning outing with only one walk and two strikeouts. He threw 107 pitches, 68 of which went for strikes, while inducing 12 groundouts to improve his record to 4-2 on the year.
"Ben gave us a really good pitching performance in a tough situation for us following what we did a day before," said Kostacopoulos. "He pitched a whale of a game. He had command of all-three pitches and located against a very good hitting team in Army. This is the second-straight week that he's given us a great start."
Navy took advantage of three Army errors in the second to score three runs and give Nelson all the support that he would need. Jonathan Berkowitz (Sr./Parkland, Fla.) led off the frame with a double before Steven Soares (Sr./Coral Springs, Fla.) drew a walk. Mike Guadagnini (Jr./Virginia Beach, Va.) laid down a sacrifice bunt that Army pitcher Kirk Porter threw into left field that allowed Berkowitz to score. Following another Porter error on a bunt that loaded the bases, Army third baseman Steve May was unable to field a grounder cleanly that allowed Soares to touch home. Guadagnini would plate the third run of the frame on a groundball double play.
Army chipped into the lead with a run in the fifth and had the tying run on base with one out, but Nelson got the final-two batters of the inning to popout to end the threat.
The Midshipmen tacked on an insurance run in the sixth with two outs, as Craig Veech (Fr./Longwood, Fla.) launched a solo home run down the left-field line to make the score 4-1.
The Black Knights would not go quietly in the ninth, as three-straight singles with two outs pulled them within two and again had the tying run on base. However, Guadagnini would make a diving stab on a hard grounder off the bat of Zach Price and was able to flip over to Nelson covering first to beat Price to the bag and end the game.
Navy's two-through-five hitters combined to go 6-for-11 in the opener, as Curley and Azor each picked up a pair of base knocks.
In the nightcap, Navy pounded out 10 hits and drew four walks but only had two runs to show for its effort in leaving 13 runners on base - nine of which were in scoring position.
"Sometimes it's not as much how many guys you leave on base, but where on base that you leave them," said Kostacopoulos. "We left a ton of guys in scoring position today."
Army plated three runs in the second and one in the third to take a 4-0 lead before Navy answered in the bottom of the third. Andrew Hahn (So./Ellicott City, Md.) led off with a single and moved to second on a one-out Azor single to left. During the next at bat, Army starter Logan Lee threw a wild pitch and catcher J.T. Watkins tried to throw out Hahn at third but sailed the ball into left field to bring home Hahn. Soares would knock home Azor with a two-out single to left.
However, that would be as close as the Mids would get, as they stranded at least one run in all but one of the remaining six frames.
Meanwhile, Navy starter Wes Olson (Jr./Indianapolis, Ind.) settled in after a tough first-three innings to grind out six innings of nine-hit, four-run baseball with two walks and three strikeouts. Olson was able to maneuver his way out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the sixth without allowing a run to score and keep the Mids within two. Olson got the first out with a strikeout, then was able to apply the tag at home on an attempt to score on a wild pitch before a groundout ended the stanza.
Despite his efforts, Olson was tagged for the loss and saw his record dip to 2-3 on the year.
Soares went 3-for-5 with a double and a RBI in game two, while Azor and Mike Hoosier (Sr./Pomona, N.Y.) both recorded multi-hit efforts. Hahn finished 1-for-2 with a run scored and two walks out of the leadoff spot.
The Midshipmen will head on the road to Princess Anne, Md., this Wednesday when take on Maryland Eastern Shore at 3 p.m. Live stats will be available via GameTracker on www.NavySports.com(.)
- Sunday's attendance of 1,717 fans was the second-largest in Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium history ... 2,023 fans came out to watch yesterday's Army-Navy twinbill ... the weekend total attendance of 3,740 fans is the largest for any series in stadium history.
- Navy is now 102-94 all-time against Army and own a 51-41 all-time record against the Black Knights in games played in Annapolis ... over the last-five meetings, the Midshipmen are 2-1 against the Black Knights in games decided by two runs or less.
- Ben Nelson's quality start on Sunday was his third in as many career collegiate starts for the Mids ... in Patriot League play, Nelson is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA in 15.0 innings with only 10 hits and two walks allowed, to go along with seven strikeouts ... he had a streak of 15.1 consecutive scoreless innings snapped with an Army run in the fifth.
- After committing seven errors in Saturday's doubleheader, Navy's defense made only two errors in Sunday's action ... Navy recorded its eighth error-free game of the year in game two on Sunday.
- Alex Azor recorded a multi-hit effort in both ends of Sunday doubleheader and in three of four games against Army this weekend ... for the year, Azor has 13 multi-hit games to his credit.
- Navy's 13 runners left on base in game two tied a season high with its performance in the season-opener against Delaware State on Feb. 19 in Durham, N.C.
- The first game of Sunday's twinbill was aired live on CBS College Sports, as Dave Ryan and Kevin Stocker called the action from Annapolis ... the game will be able to be viewed on-demand, as well as Sunday's game, in the near future through Navy All-Access on www.NavySports.com(.)
- In other action around the Patriot League on Sunday, Holy Cross (4-4 PL) swept Bucknell (3-5 PL) in Lewisburg, Pa., while Lehigh (6-2 PL) completed a four-game sweep of its rival, Lafayette (2-6 PL), in Bethlehem, Pa.