April 20, 2014
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Saturday’s formula of strong pitching and clutch hitting proved to be rewarding for the Navy baseball team (22-22, 8-8 PL) once again as they mirrored that effort and earned the same results as the Mids won both games of Sunday’s doubleheader with the Lehigh Mountain Hawks (18-19, 7-8 PL) to sweep the series, four games to none. In Game One, the Mids used a complete game from Luke Gillingham to limit the Mountain Hawks on the scoreboard and set up its second walk-off win of the series, 2-1 before getting a complete game five-hitter out of Kyle Condry in his first career start to win Game Two, 4-1.
Pitching was the story of the day for the Midshipmen as Gillingham (So., Coronado, Calif.) and Condry (Fr., Highland Village, Texas) hurled back-to-back complete games and combined to allow just one run in each contest. In Game One, Gillingham went seven innings and struck out eight, while allowing one run on five hits and one walk. In the day’s second contest, Condry threw 102 pitches and shut down the Mountain Hawk bats over nine innings in his first career start. In his complete game, he allowed just one unearned run on five hits and one walk, while striking out four.
Offensively, Robert Currie (So., Atlanta, Ga.) had a team-high three hits, as well as went three-for-three in stolen base attempts during the doubleheader. Kash Manzelli (Sr., Dunwoody, Ga.) and Brad Borosak (Jr., Jupiter, Fla.) each added two hits and an RBI for Navy on the afternoon.
“Game one was a great game where we were able to fight back and get the walk-off win and then Kyle Condry was the story of the second game,” said Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. “In his first career start he goes out and throws a nine inning complete game. That was a really special performance for Kyle and really good for us to win the doubleheader and sweep the series.”
The Midshipmen came out on the hunt of their first Patriot League series win of the season in Game One on Sunday and got lock down pitching from Gillingham right from the beginning. In the top of the first inning, the sophomore lefty struck out two Lehigh batters, including John Elson to end the frame. He continued controlling the opposition into the third inning as the Mountain Hawks went three-up, three-down in the second.
Lehigh found its only success versus Gillingham and Navy in the third inning. After a strikeout led off the frame, the Mountain Hawks had two flair-shot singles fall into shallow center field before Mike Garzillo snuck a double down the left field line between the outstretched arm of third basemen Drew Hayes (So., Collegeville, Pa.) and the foul line to score Tim McKay for Lehigh’s first and only run of the contest.
Navy’s offense struggled to put together lengthy innings versus Kevin Long for much of the game as it had a trio of three-up, three-down innings and two with single base runners over its first five at bats.
Gillingham held Lehigh’s offense at bay for the remainder of the game and this proved pivotal as Navy would finally get to Long and the Mountain Hawks in the sixth inning. In that frame, Adrian Chinnery (Fr., Wilmington, Del.) led off with a hit by pitch. After Patrick Brady (Fr., Charlotte, N.C.) was substituted in as a pinch runner, Currie came up and dropped a single into center field to give the Mids two men on with no outs. A hit by pitch of Travis Blue (Fr., Orange, Calif.) loaded the bases and set the stage for Manzelli to plate Brady with a ground ball double play and tie the score at 1-1.
In the seventh, Lehigh managed a single hit before giving way to Navy in the bottom of the inning. Hayes led the game-winning rally by drawing a leadoff walk from Long. A single up the middle by Borosak off of Lehigh’s newly inserted reliever Nick Cassell gave Navy runners on first and second with one out with Leland Saile (Fr., Land O’Lakes, Fla.) stepping to the plate. The freshman right fielder didn’t wait long to pull the hero card as he drove Cassell’s first offering up the middle and allowed Hayes come in from second and to slide into home, reaching around the catcher’s tag attempt to touch home plate and earn Navy’s second walk-off victory in two days.
In the 2-1 contest, Lehigh outhit Navy by a narrow 5-4 margin. Currie was the only player in the seven-inning game with more than one hit as he had two.
Gillingham earned the victory with his complete game effort to improve to 2-4 on the season. Long took the loss for Lehigh as Hayes was his final batter in his 6.0-plus inning effort. In four Patriot League starts for the southpaw, Gillingham has allowed just seven earned runs in 26.1 innings for a 2.39 ERA, while striking out 32 batters.
“Luke was sharp again today for us in Game One,” said Kostacopoulos. “We weren’t doing a good job of challenging our opponent in terms of scoring and sometimes as a pitcher you let that seep into your performance. He didn’t do that and he gave us a chance to win and we came through with the big seventh inning.”
Game two had a confusing and somewhat inauspicious start for the Midshipmen as in the excitement of the first game walk-off the starting pitching assignment was mis-relayed amongst the appropriate parties. George Coughlin (Fr., Arvada, Colo.) went through his regular warm-ups as if he was going to start and even took the mound in preparation for his first batter, but Lehigh noticed that Condry was the name listed on the scorecard as the announced starting pitcher. Per baseball rules, Condry needed to pitch to at least one hitter before any possible substitutions could be made. Little did anyone suspect what would happen over the next nine innings.
After hurriedly grabbing his glove and running to the mound to complete the final three warm-up pitches of the eight that are granted to pitchers (Coughlin used the first five), Condry struck out the first batter of the game and holder of a .346 batting average, Justin Pacchioli on three pitches. In just six more pitches he retired the side, including a three-pitch strike out of Joe Abeln.
Willing to ride the newfound success of its first-time starter, Navy trotted Condry back out in the second inning where he ran into a bit of trouble as he allowed a leadoff single, that eventually came around to score on a two-base throwing error and a sacrifice fly.
Down 1-0 on an unearned run, the Mids came out looking to even the score in the bottom of the second and nearly did as they loaded the bases with one out, but saw it’s scoring attempt go for naught as the Mountain Hawks’ defense turned a 6-4 double play on a line out.
After a scoreless top of the third, Navy mounted all the offense that it would need as it sent 10 men to the plate and recorded four runs on four hits, a walk, a hit by pitch and an error. Manzelli was the first Midshipmen to cash in a run in the inning as he stroked a single through the right side to score Currie, who reached via an error. Station-to-station baseball continued down the order as Brandon Beans (Sr., Hartsville, S.C.) and Borosak drove in runs on singles before Saile capped the scoring with a bases loaded hit by pitch.
Fronted a 4-1 lead, Condry showed little effects of the surprise starting assignment or the fact that he had yet to throw more than 47 pitches in any prior long-relief appearances. Over the next six innings, the freshman righty would continue to run out to the mound and shut down an offensive-minded team that came into the weekend with the Patriot League’s top batting average of .282. From the fourth inning on, Condry allowed just three hits and a walk and faced just 20 batters, two over the minimum, as his defense picked him up on two occasions with slickly turned double plays.
With his pitch count at 99, Condry faced Lehigh’s Connor Faust and retired the hard-hitting first basemen on three pitches with a fly out to center field to end one of the most improbable complete games one could ever imagine.
For the game, Navy outhit Lehigh, 7-4 on the strength of a two-for-four showing at the plate by Manzelli. Eight of the nine starting Midshipmen reached base off of Lehigh’s pitching in the game.
With the complete game, Condry improved to 1-1 on the season. The Mountain Hawks’ starter Nick Stephens was saddled with the loss as he was charged with all four of the unearned runs in the third inning.
In the weekend sweep, Navy’s pitching staff combined to throw three complete games and its starters went 33.0 of the 34.0 innings. Tyler Ridgeway (Fr., Olympia, Wash.) was the only reliever used by the Midshipmen as he came in the ninth inning of Saturday’s first game in relief of Anthony Parenti (Jr., Elizabeth, N.J.). The five Navy pitchers posted a 1.06 ERA with 25 strikeouts and held Lehigh to just a .205 batting average.
Offensively, the Mids hit .271 as a team and outscored the Mountain Hawks, 16-6. When 15 walks and five hit by pitches are factored in, Navy posted a .374 on-base percentage in the series. Currie and Manzelli shared top billing as Currie had team-highs with a .438 batting average and four stolen bases, while Manzelli posted team-highs with a .529 OBP and six RBIs.
“Robert always keeps us going, he’s the straw that stirs the drink,” said Kostacopoulos. “He gets himself on base at a high percentage and has 24 stolen bases on the year, so he’s constantly making things happen.”
With the sweep, Navy improved to 22-22 on the season and 8-8 in the Patriot League. By taking four games from the then second place Mountain Hawks, the Mids moved into third place in the league’s standings. Bucknell continues to lead with a 12-4 record, while Army stands second with an 11-4 mark.
“When you’re under .500, that’s always a goal to get to .500, so to be able to get back to that on the season and more importantly in league play that’s significant,” said Kostacopoulos. “Getting to 8-8 in the league gives us a legitimate chance to make a run at a spot in the postseason.”
Navy will be back in action with a non-conference game at Delaware State on Wednesday. First pitch between the Hornets and Midshipmen is slated for 3 p.m. Navy’s final Patriot League regular season series will be next weekend at home versus Army. The four-game set with the Black Knights is slated for doubleheaders on each of Saturday and Sunday. Game One of Saturday’s twinbill will be broadcast live nationally on the CBS Sports Network.