Navy Improves Win Streak to 12 with 11-2 Victory over George Mason
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – In its final prep before the 2017 Star Series with Army this weekend, the Navy baseball team came out on Wednesday versus George Mason and turned in a complete performance from all facets of the game. Playing at home at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium, the Mids (30-12) led wire-to-wire and defeated the Patriots (17-21) by a final score of 11-2. Navy came out with four runs in the first inning before its pitching staff hurled eight shutout innings to start the game on its way to its 12th win in a row.
“First off, Nick Elder pitched very well again in his start; that’s really good to see,” remarked head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. “Brian Wikoff came in after Nick and also threw well. Those two gave us six quality innings to start the game.
“We had the kind of offense that is good for us, we kept the pressure on and bunched hits together from time-to-time to put runs on the scoreboard. We might not have had the big loud hits, but we were making solid contact. Overall though, our pitching staff did a really good job and allowed us to stretch our lead out over time. As a whole, this was a solid performance.”
On the mound, Nicholas Elder (Fr., Roanoke, Va.) made his second career start and threw 4.0 shutout innings on a predetermined pitch count. The freshman right-hander scattered four hits and a walk over his outing, while striking out one Patriot batter before giving way to Brian Wikoff (Sr., Shrewsbury, N.J.), who gave the Mids two more scoreless innings over the fifth and sixth. Trey Seabrooke (Fr., Jacksonville, Fla.) and Sean Kamhoot (Jr., Gainesville, Fla.) each tossed up single zeroes over the seventh and eighth, respectively for Navy before George Mason finally broke into the scoring column in the top of the ninth.
At the plate, all nine of Navy’s starters recorded hits and a tenth, Ben Lowe (Jr., Memphis, Tenn.) came off the bench and notched a pinch-hit two-RBI single to round off the team’s complete offensive effort. Individually, Leland Saile (Sr., Land O’Lakes, Fla.) and Christian Hodge (So., Winder, Ga.) tied for the team-high with three hits, while Jacob Williamson (Fr., Sims, N.C.) led the Mids with three RBIs.
“Offensively, it was team effort as everyone chipped in and if they weren’t getting base hits, they were drawing walks or getting hit by a pitch; just doing the things that we needed to do to keep the offense moving,” said Kostacopoulos.
The action on Wednesday started fast for the host Midshipmen as the team sent nine batters to the plate versus George Mason starter Brock Hunter in the bottom of the first inning. After Hunter retired Logan Knowles (Jr., Port Orchard, Wash.) to start the game, six of the next seven Navy batters reached, five via singles and a sixth from a fielding error. Saile started driving in runs when he singled in Travis Blue (Sr., Orange, Calif.). Evan Lowery (Fr., Williamsburg, Va.) got the next Midshipmen RBI with a single before Williamson hit a sac fly to right field to make it 3-0. Zach Biggers (Fr., Walhalla, S.C.) plated the final run of the inning with a single to left field.
Up 4-0, Navy ran into a significant threat right away in the top of the second as Mason used two singles and a hit by pitch to load the bases versus Elder with one out. The freshman used his defense to come out unscathed as Alejandro Aponte hit a sharp grounder to Biggers at second, who tossed to Blue to start a 4-6-3 double play. That was the second straight inning, that Navy ended a frame with a double play as the same combo turned one in the first with one on and one out.
“Something that might’ve gone under the radar early on in the game if you’re looking at a boxscore were two really good plays on defense,” exclaimed Kostacopoulos. “We turned a double play to end the first before getting a really big double play next inning to get out of a bases loaded situation. Zach did a great job in starting both of those plays at second base. If a couple of those balls go through that changes the whole complexion of the game. I’m really happy to see us continuing to play solid baseball on defense.”
With the score still 4-0, Elder kept George Mason’s potent lineup under control with zeroes in each of the third and fourth innings. Of note, the Patriots came into Wednesday as winners of five straight.
Navy began pulling away over the fourth and fifth innings with a total of three combined runs. In the fourth, the Mids took advantage of some wildness by Hunter in the form of a hit by pitch, walk and three wild pitches. Both Knowles and Blue came into score on wild pitches to increase the lead to 6-0. In the fifth, Knowles notched his first RBI of the game when he singled through the right side to drive in Hodge.
Wikoff finished off his two-inning appearance in the sixth with three fly outs before Seabrooke put down the Patriots three-up, three-down in the seventh on 12 total pitches. Kamhoot took the baton and finished off George Mason in the eighth with two strikeouts.
Staked to a 7-0 lead going into the bottom of the eighth, Navy added four runs in its final inning at bat as Williamson roped a two-run double off the left field wall, just inches from a grand slam. With runners on second and third, Lowe capped off the Mids’ day at the plate with a two-run pinch-hit single to left field.
Trailing by 11, George Mason fought until the end and notched two runs in the top of the ninth to finish the game at an 11-2 final margin.
For the contest, Navy outhit George Mason, 15-9. Saile (3), Hodge (3) and Biggers (2) all recorded multiple hits for the Mids. In total, 10 Navy players tallied hits, eight scored runs and six drove in at least one run.
Elder was declared the winner to improve to 2-0 on his young career, while Hunter took the loss for the Patriots.
Navy, winners of eight straight in Patriot League conference play, will turn its attention back to the league with four games this weekend on the road at its archrival Army. The Mids and Black Knights are set to kick off its series with a Saturday doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. in West Point, N.Y.
Current Longest Win Streaks in NCAA DI … (Tied of Sixth longest in DI in 2017)
Navy – 12
Jackson State – 11
Jacksonville – 10
Ball State – 8
Creighton – 7
Miami (Ohio) – 7
Navy’s All-Time Longest Win Streaks (Single-season)
19 games – 1961
14 games – 1986 (April 12 – May 10)
12 games – 2017 (April 5 – Present)
12 games – 1946
12 games – 1916