April 12, 2014
EASTON, Pa. – The Navy baseball team split a hard-fought road doubleheader at Lafayette on Saturday, coming away with a 6-0 shutout victory in Game One and a 5-4 defeat in Game Two. Standout pitching by Anthony Parenti (Jr., Elizabeth, N.J.) and 13 hits out of its two, three and four hitters, Travis Blue (Fr., Orange, Calif.), Kash Manzelli (Sr., Dunwoody, Ga.) and David Norman (Sr., Fayetteville, Ga.) were the story for the Mids (17-20, 3-7 PL) versus the Leopards (9-17, 2-6 PL) on Saturday.
Manzelli was Navy’s leader on the offensive side of the ball as he went 5-for-8 with a double, triple and home run and four RBIs over the doubleheader. Blue and Norman both added four combined hits and two RBIs over the two ballgames.
On the mound, Parenti threw his second complete game shutout of the season with seven strikeouts over seven innings versus Lafayette in Game One.
“Those were two very competitive games,” said Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. “Tony obviously set the tone for us in the first game. He pitched really well with a lead and controlled the game; he didn’t allow a runner to reach third base. Kash and Dave had strong games for us in the three and four holes in our lineup. I thought our one, two, three and four batters were competitive throughout the 16 innings and generated a lot of our offense. Game Two was a back-and-forth ballgame and they were able to squeeze that fifth run across when they needed to.”
Realizing the importance of this series in moving up the Patriot League standings, the Mids came out of the gate with great energy and got on the scoreboard in the top of the first. After their first two batters were retired, the duo of Manzelli and Norman came through with two clutch back-to-back at bats. Manzelli started the rally with a single to right field before advancing to second on a bobble by the right fielder. Norman followed up the two-out single with a single of his own to right-center field to plate Manzelli for the game’s first run.
The effect of an early run and the domineering presence of Parenti on the mound was immediately seen on the field for the Mids in the bottom of the first when Drew Hayes
(So., Collegeville, Pa.) made a slick fielding play at third base as he charged a check-swing bounding ball and threw an off-balance strike to Manzelli at first, who stretched to complete the 5-3 put out.
After a quiet top of the second, it was Parenti’s time to shine on the field, as he struck out the final two Lafayette batters swinging in the bottom of the inning.
With all facets of their game working in high gear, the Mids increased their lead with a pair of runs in the top of the third as Manzelli and Norman connected with back-to-back RBIs. Manzelli tripled in Robert Currie (So., Atlanta, Ga.) before Norman singled in Manzelli. The Mids pressed the Leopards further in the inning with two more singles by Hayes and Brandon Beans (Sr., Hartsville, S.C.), but came up empty as Norman was put out at the plate with a strong throw from the left fielder Michael Coniglio.
The score stayed at 3-0 into the fifth inning when Manzelli scored a loud two runs with one swing of his bat. The senior first baseman connected for his second home run in as many games with a deep fly over the right field wall.
An unearned run in the sixth inning would cap Navy’s scoring in the game at 6-0. Freshman Leland Saile (Land O’Lakes, Fla.) drove in Beans, who earlier reached on an error.
Parenti pitched around a slight jam in the bottom of the sixth, but two strikeouts would keep the Leopards off the scoreboard. The junior southpaw closed the game with a one-two-three seventh inning to earn his seventh win of the season.
In Navy’s 6-0 win, the Mids outhits the Leopards, 10-5. Manzelli led the way with three hits in four at bats; he was just a double away from the cycle. His fellow senior Norman joined him with multiple hits as he went 2-for-3.
Parenti threw his fourth complete game and second solo shutout of the season as he went 7.0 innings with seven strikeouts and five hits allowed. For the fourth time in nine outings he didn’t allow a runner to reach third base.
In the second game, Navy’s strong pitching continued as Stephen Moore (Jr., Roswell, Ga.) came out and hung zeroes on the scoreboard in each of the first five innings. At one point, between the second and fifth innings he retired 10 straight Lafayette batters.
The Mids’ offense looked to equal Moore’s strong start as they had runners on base in each of the first four innings until the fifth when they finally tagged the Leopards’ starting pitcher Mitch Leeds for a pair of runs. After seeing his first two batters go down, Currie started a two-out rally with a single up the middle. The speedy sophomore then stole second base to put himself in scoring position for Blue, who promptly deposited Leeds’ offering in front of Lafayette’s centerfielder for Navy’s first run of the game. Manzelli kept the rally going as he stepped in as the next batter and laced a double to deep centerfield to score Blue.
Down 2-0, Lafayette fought back in the sixth by sending eight batters to the plate and scoring four runs on four hits, a hit by pitch and a throwing error. The damage against Moore and the Mids could have been worse if not for a 9-3-2 put out of Tyler Hudson at home plate. After a wild throw by Hayes went into right field, Saile came up firing and hit his cut-off man Manzelli, who quickly relayed the ball to Adrian Chinnery (Fr., Wilmington, Del.) at home for out number three.
The back-and-forth action continued into the seventh when Navy fought back to tie the game with two runs. The duo of Currie and Blue were at the center of this scoring drive once again as Currie led off with a hit by pitch before Blue rocketed a triple to the left-center field gap. The freshman shortstop would score two batters later as a wild pitch by Lafayette reliever Alex Farina bounced away far enough to allow Blue to score the game-tying fourth run.
Not willing to let the game stay tied for long, the Leopards responded in the bottom of the seventh with the eventual game-winning on an Andrew Santomauro sacrifice fly off Navy reliever Kevin McKelvey (Fr., West Covina, Calif.)
Lafayette’s submarine-style reliever Connor McMahon kept the Mids off-balance and unfortunately off the scoreboard for the final two innings to lock down the 5-4 win for the hosts.
For the game, Navy outhit Lafayette, 11-7. Blue had a game-high three hits, as he went 3-for-5 in the contest. Manzelli and Norman continued swinging hot bats as they each had a pair of hits. Beans joined the quartet of Mids with multiple hits with a pair of singles.
Of note, Manzelli is now on a nine-game hitting streak and has raised his batting average to a season-high .293, while Norman is on an eight-game streak and hitting at a .400 clip over his 45 at bats in 2014.
Moore took a no-decision for Navy as he went 5.2 innings with two strikeouts and allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits and no walks. McKelvey was on the hook for the loss as he allowed the go-ahead unearned run in the seventh inning.
“We really played hard today,” said Kostacopoulos. “We never let up and kept fighting throughout. Those were two emotional and hard fought games out there today. We just need to keep that same energy level up for tomorrow and just play a little bit better defense for the whole day.”
The Mids and Leopards will conclude their four-game set on Sunday with another twinbill. Sunday’s doubleheader at Kamine Stadium is scheduled for 12-noon. Navy will look for its first Patriot League series win as it will send Luke Gillingham (So., Coronado, Calif.) and George Coughlin (Fr., Arvada, Colo.) to the mound versus Lafayette.