Baseball Sweeps Sunday DH at Army and Wins Star Series, 3-1
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- The Navy baseball team completed its 3-1 series win over Army West Point on Sunday with a doubleheader sweep at Johnson Stadium at Doubleday Field. The Mids (33-13, 13-3 PL) knocked off the Black Knights (20-24, 8-8 PL) by a score of 7-2 in game one and 10-6 in the second contest.
A pitchers' duel in game one quickly fell apart over the final three innings as the teams scored all nine runs to close the game. In the second half of the twinbill, the teams started out hot and saw the game tied at 5-5 after three innings before Navy pulled away with a two-run home run in the fifth and three insurance runs in the eighth.
Individual leaders for the Mids on Sunday included, Travis Blue (Sr., Orange, Calif.), Adrian Chinnery (Sr., Wilmington, Del.) and Zach Biggers (Fr., Walhalla, S.C.) on offense. The senior duo combined for 10 hits with two doubles and a home run each, while the freshman second baseman added a home run as well.
On the mound, game one starter, Kyle Condry (Sr., Highland Village, Texas) hurled six innings of three-hit action before giving way to Jett Meenach (Sr., Flower Mound, Texas) in the seventh and final inning. In game two, Brian Wikoff (Sr., Shrewsbury, N.J.) and Sean Kamhoot (Jr., Gainesville, Fla.) combined for six innings of three-hit relief.
"Kyle was huge for us in game one," remarked head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "He pitched out of a lot of high pressure situations and allowed our offense to get its bearings because their starter [Jeremy Mortensen] was throwing very well. Eventually in the fifth we were able to get a few runs and then pulled away late. Jett came on for the seventh and did his job. Overall, it was a really well-played game by both teams. The final score doesn't reflect how good and competitive of a game that it really was.
"In game two, we get five runs then we give up five. I told the team, the first team to settle down its opponent would probably win the game. Brian Wikoff was the key to accomplishing that. Travis was huge for us in the second half of the game with four RBIs in his last three at bats. Brian did a great job of settling the game down and got 12 outs. He bought us time to get our feet under us and we were able to stretch it out."
Navy 7 -- Army 2
Navy opened the game with a Blue single in the top of the first inning though he later would be left stranded. That story continued over the next four frames as the Mids kept the pressure constantly on the Black Knights and their starting pitcher Jeremy Mortensen. Navy had two men on in each of the second and third innings, but to no avail on the scoreboard.
Condry kept pace with Mortensen as he pitched around one on in the first and two on in the second. He settled in in the bottom of third and ran off three straight innings with no hits allowed to Army batters through the fifth inning.
The scoreless tie was broken by Navy in the top of the fifth when Biggers led off the frame with a solo home run over the left field wall. With the offense re-energized by the big fly, Blue came up two batters later and lined a double to the right-center field gap before Stephen Born (Jr., Strafford, Pa.) made it back-to-back extra-base hits with a double of his own to drive in Blue.
With the score 2-0 in favor of the Mids, the Black Knights pulled Mortensen from the game and went to its bullpen. That move paid dividends for Navy as the team teed off versus Army's relief arms to the tune of five combined runs over the sixth and seventh innings.
Logan Knowles (Jr., Port Orchard, Wash.) and Blue each drove in single runs in the sixth before Jacob Williamson (Fr., Sims, N.C.) tallied the Mids' fifth run in the top of the seventh on an RBI double to center field. A two-run home run by Chinnery later in the seventh added an exclamation point to Navy's effort.
Army scored its lone two runs in the bottom of the sixth on a John McCarthy two-run home run.
In the 7-2 victory, Navy outhit Army, 11-3. Seven Mids recorded hits with Blue leading the way with three. Leland Saile (Sr., Land O'Lakes, Fla.) and Chinnery each posted two hits in the win.
Condry earned the victory to improve to 5-1 on the season with a final line of 6.0 innings, three hits, two runs, three walks and five strikeouts over 90 pitches.
In a non-save situation, Meenach hurled a spotless inning with one strikeout over seven pitches.
Navy 10 -- Army 6
After swinging a hot bat in the first game of Sunday, Navy came out in the second contest and looked to keep up its offense humming. Blue was the first Mid to connect as he doubled to the center field wall in the top of the first. While the senior shortstop wouldn't score in that frame he set the ground work for a loud second inning for Navy.
In the second, the Mids sent eight batters to the plate and came away with five runs on four hits, a walk and a wild pitch. After an initial strikeout started the inning, Williamson walked and stole second to get into scoring position. Christian Hodge (So., Winder, Ga.) promptly singled in Williamson before Biggers returned the favor two batters later with an RBI single of his own. Knowles tallied Navy's final RBI of the inning with a single through the right side to score Chinnery. Runs number four and five crossed home on one extremely wild pitch that spiked in front of home plate and shot up the netted backstop.
With the score 5-0 in favor of the Mids, the Black Knights fought back over the second and third innings with five combined runs. In the bottom of the second, Army used a two-run home run to do its damage before four hits and fielding error turned into three runs in the third inning. Biggers kept the Black Knights from adding a fourth run when he cut down John McCarthy at home plate with a 4-2 put out when McCarthy looked to take an extra base.
Wikoff was ushered out of the bullpen for the bottom of the fourth and immediately made his presence known with a scoreless frame. This would be the first inning of an extensive outing for the senior southpaw.
In the top of the fifth, Navy re-took the lead with one swing of the bat by Blue as the senior launched a two-run home run over the left field to make it 7-5 Mids.
The score stayed at a two-run margin into the eighth as Wikoff worked a stretch 11 outs in a row dating back to the fourth. During this span, Wikoff retired three Black Knights via strikeouts. Defensively, he was aided by an outstanding diving catch in right field by Saile as he robbed McCarthy of a potential extra-base hit.
Navy added three important insurance runs in the top of the eighth as Hodge advanced to third on a double by Chinnery before scampering in when the left fielder bobbled the ball in the corner. Later on with Chinnery and Biggers in scoring position, Blue drove in the pair with a sharp single up the middle. Those two RBIs gave Blue four for the game.
Trailing by five runs at 10-5, Army pushed across one run in the bottom of the eighth to tighthen the contest to 10-6. That would be as close as the host Black Knights would get as Kamhoot locked down the victory with a crisp and clean ninth inning.
For the game, Navy outhit Army, 10-8. Blue (3), Hodge (2) and Chinnery (2) all ended the game with multiple hits.
Starter Andrew Sauer (So., Johns Creek, Ga.) took a no-decision with a final line of 3.0 innings, five hits, five runs (three earned), one walk and two strikeouts.
In the longest appearance of his career, Wikoff earned the victory as he went 4.0+ innings and gave up one run on two hits. Over his 35 pitches on the mound, Wikoff notched three strikeouts.
Kamhoot closed out the contest with 2.0 innings of one-hit, two-strikeout relief work.
On the day, eight different Mids recorded hits over the doubleheader and seven scored runs. For the twinbill, Navy hit .313 (21-67) and drew nine walks and four HBPs for a .420 on-base percentage.
"We did a really good job of getting contributions from throughout our lineup today," said Kostacopoulos. "In the first game it was the bottom of the order that helped us stretch the lead out. We haven't had to over-rely on any one person all year; that's the sign of a good team. That complete team effort today included our bullpen too as Wikoff and Kamhoot came through and did a great job of stepping up."
With Sunday's sweep, Navy takes the 2017 Star versus Army outright by a count of three games to one in the four-game series. Baseball concludes the 2016-17 Army-Navy Series presented by USAA. Over 23 competitions for the Star, Navy was victorious in 14, while Army teams won nine.
"Whenever you can win a series, it's a good weekend," said Kostacopoulos. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for Army. They play the game really well and scheme really well. They forced us to play at a high level and really earn these wins. I'm happy that we came here and played a really solid brand of baseball and were competitive throughout."
The Navy baseball team will be back in action this Wednesday on the road at Coppin State. The Mids and Eagles will face off at Joe Cannon Stadium in Hanover, Md. beginning at 3:00 p.m.