Baseball Falls Twice in Sunday Doubleheader to Army
April 27, 2014
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Navy baseball team (23-26, 9-11 PL) and Army (31-13, 14-5 PL) faced off on Sunday and registered another two memorable hard-fought contests between the rival programs. After splitting a pair of tight games on Saturday, the teams played 16 innings on Sunday and saw the visiting Black Knights earn two one-run wins. Army notched a victory in Game One by a 1-0 margin, while Navy's comeback attempt in Game Two fell shy by a 5-4 score.
In a storyline similar to Saturday, the Mids' bats found success to the tune of 17 combined hits, but were just unable to come through with clutch conversations. The trend of strong pitching carried over to Sunday, as well as Navy hurlers kept Army off the scoreboard in 13 of the doubleheader's 16 innings.
On the mound, Luke Gillingham (So., Coronado, Calif.) threw a complete game five-hitter in the first contest, while the Mid's bullpen allowed just one unearned run in 8.2 innings of relief in Game Two. The trio of Andrew Bartek (So., Jefferson, Ga.), Kevin McKelvey (Fr., West Covina, Calif.) and Tyler Ridgeway (Fr., Olympia, Wash.) came out of the bullpen and each threw over two innings, including a career-high 3.2 innings for Bartek and 2.2 for Ridgeway.
Offensively, Robert Currie (So., Atlanta, Ga.), Drew Hayes (So., Collegeville, Pa.), David Norman (Sr., Fayetteville, Ga.) and Leland Saile (Fr., Land O'Lakes, Fla.) each recorded three hits on the day with Hayes going 3-for-3 in Game One and Saile 3-for-4 in Game Two with a team-high two RBIs.
"Game One boiled down to us not being able to get the big hit," said Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "We got great pitching from Luke once again, but we were a little snake-bitten offensively in that game with four or five hard hit balls, including a home run robbing catch on Kash's home run ball. Give credit to them, they played great defense today and all weekend. They pitched really well and were able to come away with a hard-fought 1-0 win."
"The second game was battle. They got out early 4-0 and we put our heads down and got right back in it. We had a few opportunities to tie it up or go ahead, but again hard balls just didn't find the holes and the complexion of the game was completely different had they fallen. That was the story of the day."
In the first game of the day both teams had intermittent success as they each had runners on base over the first two innings. Crafty pitching by Gillingham, including two strike outs got the Mids out of trouble, while strong defense by Army aided Gunnar Carroll's cause on the mound. With Currie on third base and one out, a 4-3 ground out was followed by an all-out sprint by Army RF Jon Crucitti into the corner and through the bullpen to record out number three of the first inning.
Navy nearly broke through with the first run of the game on two occasions in the fourth inning only to have Army's defense come through with two stellar efforts on the field. The first play of note was a leaping catch at the fence by Crucitti to rob Kash Manzelli (Sr., Dunwoody, Ga.) of a home run. The second was a crisply turned 9-3-2 put out at home with a throw in from right field by Crucitti to the relay man, who quickly got the ball home to eliminate Hayes on a bang-bang play at the plate.
The game's lone run occurred in the top of the fifth as the Black Knights manufactured a run on a leadoff infield single, a sacrifice bunt and single to center field by Patrick Mescher.
Down 1-0, Navy continued to get to Carroll and force the issue as it collected a pair of singles off the bats of Patrick Brady (Fr., Charlotte, N.C.) and Currie in the bottom of the fifth and two more singles in the sixth courtesy of Manzelli and Hayes. The threat in the sixth was subdued by Army's second baseman, who snagged a screaming line drive off the bat of Brandon Beans (Sr., Hartsville, S.C.) that would've score one if not two runs had it reached the outfield and the right-center field gap.
A quick seventh inning with three-up, three-down showings by each team closed out the game and gave Army the 1-0 victory.
For the game, Navy outhit Army, 8-5 and had multiple hits from Hayes (3) and Currie (2).
Gillingham was the hard-luck loser for the Midshipmen as he threw his third complete game in his last four starts. In lowering his ERA in conference play to 2.16, the sophomore lefty struck out six Black Knights over seven innings and allowed just one run on five hits and two walks. Carroll earned his eighth win of the season with seven scoreless innings of eight-hit ball.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Kyle Condry (Highland Village, Texas), the reigning Patriot League Rookie of the Week, got off to a rough start as the first four batters that he faced in the top of the first inning reached, including two via hit by pitches. The freshman RHP faced only two more Black Knight batters before getting removed for Bartek with one out in the inning. The sophomore reliever suppressed the tense situation and got out of the inning with the score 4-0 in favor of Army. This eight batter stretch of play would be go down as the Black Knight's most productive inning of the day and for the entire 32 innings of the series.
Down by four runs, the Mids got a web gem worthy defensive effort out of Beans in left field in the top of the second inning as Crucitti hit a tailing drive towards the left field that Beans sprinted to and laid out with a full-extended diving catch to make the out and energize his team. Unfortunately, this play injured his shoulder and knocked him out of further action.
With the score 4-0 and seeing the effort put forth by its senior left fielder, the Mids came out swinging in the bottom of the second. After a leadoff walk to Hayes, Beans' replacement, Saile drove a single through the right side of the infield to give Navy runners on first and second with no outs. Norman was the first Mid to take advantage of these runners as he plated Hayes with a single to right field. Two batters later, Currie drove in Saile with a base hit to left field.
Now back in the game at 4-2, Navy received shut down pitching from Bartek into the fifth inning before giving way to McKelvey. The freshman southpaw entered the game with a runner on third base and no outs before calmly forcing a shallow fly out to center field and striking out two of Army's most potent batters, Patrick Mescher and Alex Jensen to end the threat.
The Mids' defense backed up McKelvey in the top of the sixth as Manzelli turned an inning-ending double play on a sinking line drive that required the senior to stretch and dive to his right before getting to his knees and firing to second base to double off the Black Knight base runner.
With the score stabilized at 4-2, Navy continued to press during the middle innings, but hard hit after hard hit failed to find daylight and turn into productive offense.
Army added an insurance run in the seventh inning as a two-out error allowed Mark McCants to score run number five.
This score would prove important as the Mids had one last offensive push in them in the eighth inning. Brady began the rally for Navy with a leadoff walk from Army reliever Julian Larimer. After a Manzelli line drive was snagged by an extended Alex Jensen at shortstop, Travis Blue (Fr., Orange, Calif.) and Hayes moved Brady over to third base before Saile came through with a two-out drive down the left field line to score two.
With the scoreboard showing a 5-4 lead for the Black Knights, closer Johnny Griffith would shut down the Mids over the final 1.1 innings to secure the victory of Game Two, as well as of the series.
For the game, Army outhit Navy, 10-9. Saile (3), Blue (2) and Norman (2) all had multiple hits for the Midshipmen in the contest.
On the mound, Condry received the loss as he went 0.1 innings and allowed four runs on three hits and two hit by pitches. In the longest outing of this career, Bartek went 3.2 innings with one strikeout and no runs allowed on three hits and a walk. McKelvey followed Bartek's appearance with a 2.1-inning outing and two strikeouts. The freshman allowed one unearned run on four hits and a walk. Navy's final reliever, Ridgeway, went 2.2 hitless innings and struck out three Army batters. During his freshman campaign, Ridgeway has now struck out 18 batters in 11 innings and allowed just four hits.
"The bullpen did a great job," said Kostacopoulos. "They scored four runs in the first innings and we were in a little bit of trouble, but Andrew, Kevin and Tyler came out and gave us great performances. That was important, they gave us a chance to win; that's all you can ask for."
In the 3-1 series setback, Navy outhit Army 32-24 and posted a combined .278 average over the four games. The Mids' pitching was just as impressive with a 1.97 ERA and 24 strike outs in 32.0 innings.
"I'm real proud of the guys," said Kostacopoulos. "I feel that we left it on the field this weekend. I don't think we took anything for granted or took plays off. It's hard for us to win because we have some limitations offensively and there's been a ton of games like this for us this season. When you drop three one-run games to your archrival, that's a hard one to swallow, but it's not from lack of effort or intensity. I thought we made some spectacular defensive plays in Game Four and kept going. We have to take the disappointment that we're feeling now and build off the fact that we played the game pretty hard this weekend."
With the results of this weekend's Patriot League play now final, Bucknell, Army, Lehigh and Navy have all earned spots in the upcoming Patriot League semifinals, that'll begin the weekend of May 10. Bucknell and Army have both secured hosting opportunities for the semifinals with the exact matchups to be determined by a make-up game between Army and Lehigh on Monday.
"This was a tough weekend for us, but we'll bounce back," said Kostacopoulos. "The playoffs are a whole new season and we have to be ready to go."
Navy will next be in action on Wednesday with its regular season finale versus George Mason at home. First pitch between the Mids and Patriots is slated for 3 p.m. at Max Bishop Stadium.