Navy Sweeps Lehigh on Saturday
B.J. Bickel went 2-for-5 in the nightcap with several solid defensive plays
April 14, 2007
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Navy senior second baseman Michael Garcia (Kailua, Hawai'i) went 5-for-8 with a home run during Saturday's baseball doubleheader as the Midshipmen swept defending Patriot League champion Lehigh at Murray H. Goodman Field in Bethlehem, Pa. The Mids won the opener, 6-1, before taking the nightcap, 13-10.
With the wins, Navy improved to 26-12 overall and moved into sole possession of second place in the Patriot League with a 7-3 mark. The Mountain Hawks fell to 11-20-1 on the year and 1-9 in the Patriot League on Saturday.
"We played an all-around good game in the opener and really relied upon our offense in game two," stated Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "Mitch Harris pitched well, played solid defense and came through with the bats in game one. However, the outs weren't coming as easily in the second game, kind of mirrored our game two on Saturday at Holy Cross two weeks ago. We took an early 7-0 lead, but Lehigh kept pecking away and eventually pulled within one at 8-7. However, B.J. Bickel got us started in the eighth and everybody contributed."
Navy junior right-handed pitcher Mitch Harris (Mt. Holly, N.C.) improved to 7-3 on the year with a complete-game effort in game one. He scattered five hits and one run with one walk and a season-high 11 strikeouts on Saturday. The right-hander upped his season total in strikeouts to 87, jumping him up to sixth place on the single-season all-time list. He has struck out more batters than innings pitched during each of his 10 starts on the mound this year.
The offense would provide Harris all the run support he would need in the first, plating a pair of runs. Freshman Michael Speciale (Pearland, Texas) delivered a two-run single to left with one out and the bases loaded in the opening stanza. The Mids made it 3-0 in the third when junior Thomas Hamilton (Houston, Texas) lifted a sacrifice fly to right to score Harris, who belted a triple one batter before.
Navy extended the lead to 5-0 in the fourth with a pair of RBI-singles off the bats of freshman Steven Soares (Coral Springs, Fla.) and Garcia. After Lehigh got on the board in the sixth, Garcia led off the seventh with his first career home run.
Garcia went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs, while Harris helped his own cause with a 2-for-4 effort at the plate with two runs scored and Speciale went 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs.
In the nightcap, Navy put a seven-spot on the scoreboard in the second inning, as it sent 11 batters to the plate. Senior shortstop B.J. Bickel (Benson, N.C.) and Harris each had two-run doubles in the inning, while Hamilton brought in a pair with a single and junior Renaldo Hollins (Virginia Beach, Va.) drove home a run.
The Mountain Hawks plated three in the third before Navy scored again in the fifth inning. Speciale led off with a double and touched the plate on Soares' two-out single to left-center.
Lehigh would not go quietly, scoring once in the fifth and three times in the sixth to pull within one at 8-7. The Mountain Hawks had an opportunity to tie or take the lead in the seventh, as they had runners in scoring position with two outs. However, Navy reliever James Lee (Asheville, N.C.) was able to get out of the jam with a groundout to short.
The Midshipmen immediately responded with the bats in the top half of the eighth, scoring five times and batting through the order for the second time in the nightcap. Bickel led off with a single and would come home to score as Garcia, Hamilton, Speciale, Lydon and Hoosier each contributed with a RBI during the frame.
The host Mountain Hawks would strike again, bringing three runs across in the eighth, again with the opportunity to tie with two outs. With runners on first and third with two outs, Lehigh attempted a double steal, but Soares throw to second was cut off by Bickel, who then fired a strike back to Soares at the plate to get the lead runner and get out of the inning.
Each of Navy's starters produced a hit and scored a run in game two on Saturday, while eight of the nine came home to touch the plate. Garcia, Lydon and Soares each produced three hits, while Hollins and Bickel each had two base knocks. In addition to his efforts at the plate, Bickel played well defensively and made the key catch and throw on the attempted double steal in the eighth.
"B.J. Bickel was the key to our victory in game two," said Kostacopoulos. "He either started or was involved with all of our rallies. He made two or three nice defensive plays at short, had some quality at bats and just played an all-around good ballgame."
Navy junior starter Mark McCoy (Parkland, Fla.) upped his record to 5-4 on the year with a five-inning effort in the nightcap. He struck out four and walked only two, while yielding four runs on six hits. Freshman closer JD Melton (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) picked up his eighth save of the year, as he threw 1.1 innings of perfect relief for the Mids.
The Midshipmen are slated to close out their four-game set with the Mountain Hawks with a 12 noon doubleheader tomorrow at Murray H. Goodman Field.