April 29, 2012
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -
The Navy baseball team secured a berth in the Patriot League Tournament by sweeping a doubleheader from Lehigh on Sunday afternoon at Max Bishop Stadium. The Midshipmen won game one, 5-1, and followed with a 2-1 win in game two, finishing the conference regular season with a 9-11 record. With the series split, Lehigh ends the year at 18-31-1, overall, and 6-14 in the league.
As the third seed, the Midshipmen will meet second-seeded Holy Cross in the best-of-three semifinal series in Worcester, Mass. The series is likely to start on May 12, but an official date and time will be announced this week.
Navy won game one behind a complete-game performance from starting pitcher Ben Nelson and a four-run fifth inning that snapped a 1-1 tie. The Midshipmen got solid pitching again in game two and a late RBI single by Chris Cannon in the bottom of the seventh delivered the eventual winning run.
"We got very good pitching today and Ben set the tone in the first game," said Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "Anthony Parenti, Stephen Moore and Brad Borosak were very good in the second game. Both games were really about pitching and defense. We didn't score a lot of runs, but we scored enough to win two games."
With game one tied, 1-1, and two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Alex Azor kept the inning alive with just the fourth Navy hit of the afternoon as he singled to right field. Nikolai Simonsen followed with another single to suddenly put the Mids in position to claim their first lead. Greg Dupell did just that in the next at-bat as he sent a hard-hit ball just past Brandon Sady at second base to score Azor for a 2-1 Navy lead.
The next batter, Manzelli extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a double that bounced into the gap in right-center field, scoring two more runs for the Mids. Josh Moore
made it five straight hits as he singled off reliever Nick Stephens to bring in Manzelli for a 5-1 Navy lead.
"Alex got it going, Nikolai followed up with another hit and we were able to keep it going from there," said Kostacopoulos. "At that point, the way Ben was throwing, we felt pretty good about where we were"
After allowing three hits in the first inning, Nelson cruised as he retired 16 of the next 17 Lehigh batters, including 10 consecutive at one point. The junior right-hander gave up two hits in the sixth, but got an inning-ending strikeout and then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to seal the win.
Nelson finished with seven strikeouts in throwing his second consecutive complete game.
Lehigh used three singles in the top of the first inning of game one take an early 1-0 lead. With two on and one out, Tyler Brong knocked a single through the left side that scored Brendan McGahren from second base.
Navy tied the game in the second inning with an RBI groundout by Cannon that scored Dave Milanes.
Lehigh starting pitcher Nick Cassell, who allowed just three hits through four innings, took the loss in game one.
Andrew Hahn gave Navy a 1-0 lead in game two with an RBI single to center field.
Parenti, Navy's game-two starter, retired six consecutive batters to begin the game and then worked around a bases-loaded jam in the third inning without yielding a run. But the Mountain Hawks put two runners on base again in the fourth inning and were able to tie the game with an RBI double to left field by Chad Warga.
Like Parenti, Lehigh starting pitcher Mike Burke also didn't give the opposition much opportunity to put up runs. He had retired 10 of 11 batters before a leadoff single by Milanes led to trouble for the Mountain Hawks in the seventh inning.
Hahn advanced Milanes with a sacrifice bunt and then Cannon came through with his first hit of the day to give Navy the lead, 2-1. Cannon belted single to right field off reliever Colin Gotzon that easily plated Milanes, giving Navy the last run it would need.
After Moore pitched the sixth frame, Borosak started the seventh and threw a perfect final three innings. The freshman didn't allow a hit or walk and struck out three as he earned his first collegiate victory.
"Runs were hard to come by today and those three freshmen pitchers really did a solid job in giving up just one run in a nine-inning game," said Kostacopoulos.
For Borosak, it was his first action since March 21.
"We've missed Brad and not having him available put a strain on our bullpen," said Kostacopoulos. "To have him back and for him to go out and throw like that today was really uplifting to our team and we hope it can carry over to the postseason."
Burke took the loss for Lehigh in game two, allowing two runs off five hits.
Navy, now 22-26 overall on the season, will be back in action this week when it hosts Coppin State at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. The Midshipmen will travel to Delaware State on Wednesday.