Navy Splits Saturday Baseball Doubleheader with Army
WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Navy baseball team faced off with its archrivals from New York, Army West Point on Saturday with the first two games of a four-game weekend series. Once the dust had settled following game two at Johnson Stadium at Doubleday Field, the tally saw each team with a victory. The Mids (31-13, 11-3 PL) won game one by a score of 7-3 before the Black Knights (20-22, 8-6 PL) came back in the second contest and took a 9-2 decision.
Leaders for Navy during the doubleheader included, Noah Song (So., Claremont, Calif.) and Jett Meenach (Sr., Flower Mound, Texas) on the mound and the freshmen duo of Zach Biggers (Fr., Walhalla, S.C.) and Evan Lowery (Fr., Williamsburg, Va.) at the plate. Song and Meenach combined to five-hit the Black Knights in game one's win, while Biggers and Lowery each recorded three RBIs over the span of the doubleheader.
"In game one, Noah gave us another nice start and Jett came on and did his job to close out the win," remarked head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "Offensively, we pecked away and kept the pressure on them every inning. We were able to bunch enough hits together to score some runs so it was a nice all-around effort.
"In the second game, they swung the bat well and got a few big two-run home runs. Their starting pitcher was great. He had three pitches working for him and he handled us well, especially in the middle innings. We weren't able to mount much pressure. That was the story of game two."
Navy 7 - Army 3
Game one opened inauspiciously as neither team was able to muster much offense in the first inning as Travis Blue (Sr., Orange, Calif.) singled for Navy in the top of the inning and Kris Lindner drew an HBP for Army. Both were stranded.
Another Navy base hit, a double by Jacob Williamson (Fr., Sims, N.C.) went for naught in the top of the second before the Mids finally had their breakthrough in the third. With neither team on the scoreboard at the beginning of the third inning, Navy sent eight men to the plate and came away with a pair of runs. With the bases loaded, Leland Saile (Sr., Land O'Lakes, Fla.) was plunked by a Jacob Carte offering to force in Logan Knowles (Jr., Port Orchard, Wash.). On the ensuing at bat, Lowery hit a deep fly ball to the left field warning track that was caught, thereby allowing Blue to tag up and sprint into score run number two.
After Song sailed through the first three innings and held the Black Knights to just one third-inning hit, he was tagged for a single run in the bottom of the fourth to tighten the contest to a one-run margin.
Uncomfortable with that lead, Navy immediately responded in the top of fifth with a two-spot on the scoreboard. Lowery led off with a single up the middle before moving into scoring position on a Christian Hodge (So., Winder, Ga.) single. Two batters later the big hit came for the Mids as Biggers roped a triple into the right field corner to plate two.
The back-and-forth action continued in the bottom of the inning when Army came back with two runs of its own.
With the score standing at 4-3, Navy pulled away over the final two innings with two runs in the top of the sixth and one in the seventh. After Blue and Stephen Born (Jr., Strafford, Pa.) reached via a hit-by-pitch and walk, respectively and later advanced to second and third on a wild pitch, Saile started the sixth-inning run production with a sacrifice fly to right field before Lowery grounded in Born.
A sacrifice fly by Biggers in the seventh closed out the scoring at 7-3.
For the game, Navy outhit Army, 9-5. Blue, Hodge and Biggers all recorded two hits for the Mids in the victory.
With a final line of 5.0 innings, four hits, no walks and three runs (two earned) allowed with two strikeouts, Song improved to 6-2 on the year. For shutting out the Black Knights over the last 2.0 innings and holding them to one hit, Meenach notched his seventh save of 2017.
Army 9 - Navy 2
Unlike game one where the offenses were a little slow getting into the swing of things, the Mids opened the second contest loudly with two runs in the top of the first inning. Singles by Knowles and Born got the offense moving before Saile and Lowery came up in back-to-back at bats with RBIs. Saile singled to right field, while Lowery hit a deep sacrifice fly to left field that was caught on the warning track.
After initially roughing up Army's starter Tyler Giovinco in the first inning, the left-handed hurler got the better of Navy over his next 6.1 innings on the mound. The southpaw didn't allow a Midshipmen to reach via hit until Born stroked a double to right-center field in the top of the sixth inning. Singles by Adrian Chinnery (Sr., Wilmington, Del.) and Knowles finally chased Giovinco in the top of the eighth, but the long dry spell on runs was problematic for Navy as Army tallied eight unanswered runs up to that point.
Trailing 2-0 in the second, the host Black Knights hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the frame to tie the game before taking the lead in the bottom of the third with an RBI double.
Another two-run home run by Army put the team up 5-2 in the fifth before the Black Knights broke the game open with three runs in the sixth. Navy starter George Coughlin (Sr., Arvada, Colo.) was charged with allowing the first six runs.
With the score 8-2 and Giovinco resigned from the game, Army tacked on an added run in the bottom of the eighth to make the final, 9-2.
For the game, Navy was outhit by Army, 11-7. Knowles and Blue led Navy's effort with two hits each.
Coughlin was saddled with the loss to drop to 4-3 in 2017. His final line was 5.0 innings, six hits, three walks and six runs allowed, while striking out four.
"We split today and give Army credit for the second game, they played very well," concluded Kostacopoulos. "We've got two more games tomorrow so I'm sure the intensity will be ratchetted up once again."
The Mids and Black Knights will complete their four-game series on Sunday with a twinbill beginning at 12 p.m. at Doubleday Field. Both games will be broadcast live on the Patriot League Network.
For the purposes of claiming the 2017 Star for baseball, Navy's game one victory gives it the tiebreaker should the series end tied at 2-2.
The Mids' loss in game two snapped a 13-game win streak for the ball club.