Mids Take Series Over Lehigh with 7-1 Win on Sunday
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Navy baseball team won its third straight Patriot League series with a 7-1 victory over Lehigh on Sunday. Faced with the threat of constant rain throughout the afternoon, the Mids (27-11, 11-6 PL) and Mountain Hawks (13-21, 3-10 PL) went head-to-head in a 10:30 a.m. contest at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium. After a scoreless stretch of three innings to start the game, Navy's offense began clicking over the middle innings and scored a combined six runs during the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to break out to a 6-1 lead. The Mids' starter Andrew Sauer (Jr., Johns Creek, Ga.) held the Mountain Hawks in check for the entirety of his outing with just one run allowed over seven innings.
"Andrew Sauer really competed well today under some tough conditions," remarked head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "I also thought we did a good job of executing on offense. We moved guys over with sacrifice bunts and drove them in with sacrifice flies or ground balls. They weren't necessarily base hits, but they were productive and got the job done. The bottom line is to score and we were able to score seven runs today. That came from good execution and playing good smart baseball.
"It's good to get another series win. If you take at least two of three games every weekend, you should be in pretty good shape down the stretch of the season."
In the longest start of his career, Sauer threw 7.0 innings and allowed one run on five hits. The junior right-hander walked two and struck out one over his 111-pitch outing. Jared Leins (Fr., Raleigh, N.C.) closed out the victory with two hitless shutout innings of relief over the eighth and ninth frames.
At the plate, Zach Biggers (So., Walhalla, S.C.), Logan Knowles (Sr., Port Orchard, Wash.) and Stephen Born (Sr., Strafford, Pa.) spearheaded the Mids' effort. Biggers reached base in four of his five plate appearances with two singles, a double and a walk. The sophomore second baseman also tied for the team-high with two RBIs. Born was the other Midshipmen on Sunday to drive in two runs as he tallied two sacrifice flies. As the team's leadoff hitter, Knowles had two hits and two runs scored.
The action on Sunday began under grey, ominous conditions. Whether it was the weather or the early 10:30 a.m. start time, but the bats were slow to come around as both Sauer and his counterpart from Lehigh, Peter Moore, controlled the first three innings of the game. The visitors from Bethlehem, Pa. were held off the scoreboard and limited to just three singles, while the Mids were only able to scratch out two base runners on the southpaw hurler.
After Sauer retired Lehigh three-up, three-down in the top of the fourth, his offense repaid his efforts with a single run in the bottom of the stanza. Born sparked the rally with an infield single to the second baseman. After advancing to third on a hit by pitch and sacrifice bunt, Born came into score on an RBI ground out by Stephen Thompson (Fr., Rock Hill, S.C.).
Another three-up, three-down performance by Sauer in the fifth allowed his offense to get back to work in short order. This would pay off again as the Mids scored their second run of the game in the bottom of the fifth. Battling tough fielding conditions with a steady rain coming down, the Mountain Hawks opened the inning with back-to-back errors. These miscues aided Navy as Biggers eventually drove in Michael Coritz (So., Clifton, Va.) with a one-out infield single.
The weather played a role in Lehigh's single run in the top of the sixth as Sauer battled poor footing on the mound and a slick ball. The outcome was two consecutive walks to lead off the inning. A 6-4-3 double play by Coritz and Biggers helped alleviate some of the traffic on the base paths, but a two-out single by Tony Gallo plated a single run for the Mountain Hawks.
With the score 2-1 going into the bottom of the sixth, Navy started squaring up Lehigh's relief pitching to the tune of four runs on three hits and two walks. Back-to-back walks to start the inning got the offensive wheels in motion for the Mids. An infield single by Alex Smith (So., Stafford, Va.) loaded the bases before Coritz drove in the first run on a sacrifice fly to center field. A wild pitch to the backstop allowed Jacob Williamson (So., Sims, N.C.) to sprint in for the next run and make the score 4-1. Biggers and Born recorded the final two RBIs for Navy to close out the scoring.
Spotted a 6-1 lead, Sauer put down Lehigh in the seventh in his final inning of work on two groundouts and fly out.
Navy tacked on its final run of the game in the bottom of the eighth on Born's second sacrifice fly of the contest.
Leins made short work of the Mountain Hawks in both the eighth and ninth innings to seal the victory for the Mids.
For the game, Navy outhit Lehigh, 9-5. Biggers (3), Knowles (2) and Smith (2) all had multiple hits.
In recognition of his strong start, Sauer saw his record improve to 3-1 on the year.
Navy will continue Patriot League action this coming week with a home Wednesday afternoon tilt versus Bucknell at 3 p.m. Following the showdown between the Mids and Bison, the team will quickly gather itself and head up to Boston for a Friday night matchup against Army at 6 p.m. at Fenway Park.