Navy and Lehigh Split Saturday Doubleheader
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Navy baseball team battled with Lehigh for 17 innings on Saturday as the Mids (26-11, 10-6 PL) and the Mountain Hawks (13-20, 3-9 PL) each came away with a victory in the Patriot League doubleheader at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium. Game one was a pitchers’ duel between Navy’s Noah Song (Jr., Claremont, Calif.) and Lehigh’s Levi Stoudt that saw Logan Knowles (Sr., Port Orchard, Wash.) come through with the walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh for a 2-1 victory. Game two had similar dramatics as the Mids tied the game in the bottom of the ninth at 4-4 to force extra innings before the Mountain Hawks tallied three runs in the top of the 10th inning.
“The first game was well pitched by both starters,” remarked head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. “I thought Jared Leins did a heck of a job in the seventh inning with that first and second situation with one out and getting out of it. Then we were able to scratch one across in the bottom of the inning for the win. That’s a lot of game ones in this conference. The game is only seven innings long and you have both teams’ best pitcher throwing.
“In the second game, they got to Sean [Kamhoot] a little bit early on. We were able to get back in the ball game late and tie it in the ninth, but we just didn’t finish the job in the 10th to get the win. That was 17 innings of pretty competitive baseball today.”
Navy’s top individual performances on the mound on Saturday came from Song, Jared Leins (Fr., Raleigh, N.C.) and Colin Brady (Sr., Seneca, S.C.). Song started game one and no-hit Lehigh into the fifth inning before settling for a final line of 6.1 innings, five hits, one run, four walks and seven strikeouts over 95 pitches. Though he only pitch 0.2 innings, Leins had a notable relief outing as the freshman came in with two on and one out in the seventh inning of a tied ball game in the first contest. Brady’s appearance came in the second game and the reliever went 5.0 innings with just two hits allowed. The senior sidearmer struck out three in the longest relief outing of his career.
Offensively, the trio of Knowles, Michael Coritz (So., Clifton, Va.) and Christian Hodge (Jr., Winder, Ga.) were around the majority of the action all day. Knowles had the game-winning single in the first game before coming back in game two and starting the contest with back-to-back triples. Coritz contributed a team-high four hits on Saturday, including a triple in game two. Hodge had two hits and a walk and scored the game-winning run in game one and the game-tying run in the bottom of the ninth in game two.
“Logan had the big walk-off hit for us in game one and then came right back in game two with two triples to start the game,” said Kostacopoulos. “He’s swinging it well right now for us. We also got some good contributions from Mike Coritz with four hits on the day.”
Game One, Navy 2 – Lehigh 1
The action on Saturday began with both pitchers set the tone early. Song set down nine of the first 10 batters of the game with one second inning walk as his only blemish. The junior right-hander struck out three Mountain Hawks over that initial three-inning span of play.
On the opposite side of the equation, Stoudt set down nine of the first 11 Navy batters in the contest. Hodge tallied the first hit of the game with a single through the left side in the second inning.
With the score still knotted at 0-0 through three innings, Song did his part to hold the line as he struck out two in the top of the fourth. In the bottom half of the same inning, the host Midshipmen scratched out the first run of the game. Stephen Born (Sr., Strafford, Pa.) led off the rally as he reached on a two-base throwing error by Lehigh’s second baseman. On third base after a groundout, the senior came into score on a sacrifice fly to centerfield by Jacob Williamson (So., Sims, N.C.).
Song continued his no-hitter into the fifth inning when Mike Maguire beat out a bunt infield single. That first hit eventually led to Lehigh’s offense gaining some traction against Song as the visitors tagged Navy’s starter in the sixth inning for his first allowed run in 22 innings with the mixture of two hits and two walks. Prior to Saturday, Song had recorded back-to-back complete game shutouts over Lafayette and Holy Cross.
Now faced with a tied 1-1 ball game in the bottom of the sixth, Zach Biggers (So., Walhalla, S.C.) did his best to spark a rally for Navy as he led off the frame with a ground-rule double over the centerfield wall. Though bunted over to third base, the Mids were unable to push him home for the go-ahead run as Stoudt recorded consecutive strikeouts to end the threat.
Both teams went down with a fight in the seventh inning as Lehigh got to Song with consecutive one-out singles to put runners on first and second. Ushered in from the bullpen, Leins calmly took carry of the situation with a weak fly out and strikeout swinging.
In the Mids’ final regulation at bat, Hodge led off with double down the left field line. An infield single by Alex Smith (So., Stafford, Va.) put runners on the corners with one out, but Stoudt once again got a key put out. Down to their last out in the bottom of the seventh, Knowles stroked a 1-0 pitch down the line past the outstretched arms of the Mountain Hawks’ first baseman for the game-winning walk-off RBI.
For the game, Navy outhit Lehigh, 6-5. Hodge was the only player from either side to record multiple hits as he finished with a game-high two knocks.
Song received a no-decision for his 6.1-inning effort, while Leins improved to 3-1 on the season for his spotless relief outing.
Game Two, Lehigh 7 – Navy 4 (10 innings)
The second game on Saturday followed a completely different script to start as both teams’ offenses looked to make things happen early. Lehigh opened action with two runners on base in the first inning versus Navy’s starting pitcher Sean Kamhoot (Sr., Gainesville, Fla.). The senior righty got out of the one-out jam with back-to-back fly outs. The Mids’ response in the bottom of the inning saw Knowles lace a triple to the left-center field gap. A 5-2 fielder’s choice put out of Knowles at home on ground ball kept the game scoreless moving into the second.
After both pitchers settled in and went three-up, three-down in the second inning, the bats came through in the third with four combined runs, two for each team. In the top of the third, Lehigh tagged Kamhoot for two runs on three hits, while Navy responded with two runs of its own. Coritz got the Mids’ offense in gear with a one-out infield single. The next batter, Knowles, lined a triple into the right field corner to make it a 2-1 game. The lineup continued moving along as Biggers immediately followed up Knowles with a single to right field to knot the game at 2-2.
The Mountain Hawks made it 4-2 in the top of the fourth as the team once again recorded two runs on three hits. The newly-inserted Brady short-circuited any further damage as he pitched around a two-on, one-out situation with a ground ball and strike out.
Both Jason Reynolds, Lehigh’s starting pitcher, and Brady controlled the middle innings of the game as Reynolds retired 10 straight Mids over innings four through seven. Brady equaled his counterpart on the mound as he efficiently navigated the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings with just one hit and one hit by pitch allowed.
With the score still 4-2 heading into the ninth, Lehigh looked for some insurance runs in the top of the final regulation inning and led off the frame with a single. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second base, Trey Seabrooke (So., Jacksonville, Fla.) came out of the bullpen and registered a strikeout and fly out in short order to hold the two-run margin.
The Mountain Hawks’ inability to score a fifth run would prove troublesome as the Mids snapped their scoreless streak in the bottom of the ninth. Born started the game-tying rally with a double to the right-center field gap. A walk to Hodge gave Navy two runners on base with no outs. A ground out quickly advanced both Mids up 90 feet. Stephen Thompson (Fr., Rock Hill, S.C.) came off the bench as a pinch-hitter and plated with Navy’s third run of the game on a sacrifice fly to left field. Down to the team’s last out of regulation, Liam Lowery (Jr., Williamsburg, Va.) tied the game at 4-4 with a single to left field to score Hodge from second base.
As the game headed to extra innings for the fifth time in the last four weeks of conference play (a 12-game span) for the Mids. Lehigh jumped on Navy to the tune of three runs off of two walks, two hits and a wild pitch.
Down 7-4, Coritz led off the bottom of the 10th with a single to center field, but unfortunately for Navy and its home fans, the sophomore shortstop would be stranded and the game would go final by that same score.
For the game, Lehigh outhit Navy, 11-9. Coritz (3) and Knowles (2) each recorded multiple hits in the contest.
“It’s been an uphill battle for us offensively the last 10 games or so,” said Kostacopoulos. “We need to keep going at it and work our way over the hump.”
Kamhoot received a no-decision with a final line of 3.1 innings, seven hits, four runs and two walks. As the first arm out of the bullpen for Navy, Brady tossed five scoreless innings with two hits allowed and three strikeouts. The outing was the longest of his relieving career and second-longest overall as he once went 6.0 innings as a starter on March 9, 2016.
“Colin was really good today,” exclaimed Kostacopoulos. “He did a really nice job of throwing up zeros in the middle innings. He gave our offense a legitimate shot to come back and he lengthened the game. He held the game at 4-2 and eventually we tied it at 4-4. He did a real nice job of giving us that chance.”
SCHEDULE CHANGE: Due to impending weather on Sunday afternoon, the two teams have agreed to move up game three of their series to 10:30 a.m. at Max Bishop Stadium. The game is still scheduled to be streamed on the Patriot League Network, though Navy’s Meet the Mids promotion has been postponed until the May 6 doubleheader versus Longwood University.