Baseball Ends Season in Patriot League Semifinals
May 10, 2014
LEWISBURG, Pa. – The Navy baseball team (23-28) saw its season end on Saturday as the Bucknell Bison swept a doubleheader and won the best-of-three Patriot League semifinal series, two games to none. Buckenll was victorious by scores of 15-6 in Game One and 8-4 in Game Two. The Mids relied on its offense on Saturday to the tune of 26 hits over the two games in the twinbill.
Offensively, Robert Currie ( Atlanta, Ga.) led a trio of Midshipmen with four or more hits as the sophomore centerfielder finished the doubleheader with five hits and three RBIs in nine at bats. Kash Manzelli (Sr., Dunwoody, Ga.) and Leland Saile (Fr., Land O’Lakes, Fla.) each recorded four base hits.
On the mound, Stephen Moore (Jr., Roswell, Ga.) had a solid relief appearance for Navy in Game Two, as he came in relief of starter Luke Gillingham (So., Coronado, Calif.) and held Bucknell to just two runs over the final 4.1 innings of the contest.
“In the first game, they swung the bat very well against us,” said Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. “They scored 15 runs so that kind of told the story. In the second game, we had opportunities with 15 base hits, but just weren’t able to get the runners in. Overall on the day, we weren’t sharp on the mound from the standpoint that we didn’t collect the outs that we needed to. In the end, they swung the bats successfully and you’ve got to give them credit.”
Game One started as any follower of 2014 Patriot League baseball would expect with inning after inning of scoreless pitching action. While Anthony Parenti (Jr., Elizabeth, N.J.) opened with two clean frames versus Bucknell’s offense, Navy tested the Bison’s Bryson Hough with leadoff singles in the first and third innings, as well as a double by Saile in the second. In all three innings, Bucknell’s defense bailed Hough out and kept Navy with zero runs.
The host Bison were first to break through as they tied together three singles in the bottom of the third. Joe Ogren came through with the big hit as he placed a single up the middle to plate two runs.
Down 2-0, Navy responded quickly in the top of the fourth when Manzelli roped a ground-rule double over the center field fence. After advancing to third on a David Norman (Sr., Fayetteville, Ga.) groundout, the senior captain came into score off of a Drew Hayes (So., Collegeville, Pa.) groundout to the shortstop.
The back-and-forth action continued into the bottom of the fourth as Bucknell extended its lead back out to two runs on an RBI double off the bat of Alex O’Neill.
Once again down two runs at 3-1, the Mids came back in the top of the fifth inning with RBIs from two of its All-League performers, Currie and Manzelli. Currie plated Brad Borosak (Jr., Jupiter, Fla.), who reached via a one-out double before Manzelli drove in Currie.
This would be the last Navy would score until the ninth inning as Bucknell went to its bullpen and called on Xavier Hammond, who had previous caused issues for the Mids in his earlier 2014 appearance as a starter in the two team’s regular season series. With Navy’s offense seemingly plateaued with the score 3-3, the Bison would break the game open in the bottom of the fifth and sixth innings.
In the fifth, Bucknell turned a 3-3 score into a 6-3 margin with three runs. A controversial safe call at third base started the Bison’s offense in the bottom of the fifth as Anthony Gingerelli would come into score on the next play on an Ogren single. Another single, a wild pitch and a balk would account for the final two runs. The Bison extended their unanswered scoring streak into the sixth as they plated four runs to make it a 10-3 ball game.
With the result in hand, Bucknell pushed across five runs in the bottom of the eighth before Navy responded in the top of the ninth with three. Manzelli (1) and Norman (2) were responsible for the runs batted in that inning.
In the 15-6 game, Bucknell outhit Navy, 16-10. Manzelli led the Mids with three hits in five at bats, while Currie went two-for-four. Five other Navy batters recorded single hits off Bison pitching.
Parenti earned the loss with a final line of 5.0 innings pitched and three strikeouts with six runs allowed on nine hits and a walk. Prior to this game, the junior pitcher had thrown in 11 starts and not allowed more than two runs in any appearance.
A half-hour later, the Mids looked to extend the series and their season with a must-win Game Two. One of Navy’s hottest pitchers down the stretch, Luke Gillingham got the call in the second game. Coming into Saturday, the sophomore lefty had registered a 2.16 ERA and 38 strikeouts over 33.1 innings in five starts in league play.
The move paid dividends for the Mids early as Gillingham struck out two Bison in the top of first inning. He continued to hold Bucknell off the scoreboard with zeroes in each of the first three frames. Of note, Navy was serving as the designated home team in the second game.
Similar to the first game where it had runners on base in each of the first six innings, Navy did the same in Game Two off of LHP Dan Weigel. The Mids’ most threatening inning early on was in the second when Hayes and Brandon Beans (Sr., Hartsville, S.C.) opened with back-to-back single. After Saile laid down a sacrifice bunt, Weigel responded with two straight outs to keep the game scoreless.
Bucknell was first to get on the scoreboard as the Bison turned a leadoff walk into a run in the fourth. They would extend their lead in the fifth when they batted around and scored five times. A Midshipmen error proved pivotal as three of the five runs were unearned.
Down 6-0, Navy fought back with three runs in the sixth as it sent eight batters to the plate. Four consecutive singles started the rally as Hayes, Beans and Saile loaded the bases before Borosak knocked in the first run. Currie registered the fifth single in the frame as he placed a base hit down the left field line to score Beans and Saile.
After a rare six-up, six-down seventh inning, Bucknell got back in the scoring column in the eighth as it took advantage of some uncommon wildness by Moore, who had come in relief in the fifth inning. The junior righty gave up a single before walking Gingerelli and uncorking a wild pitch. A single by Jon Mayer drove in both runners and made it an 8-3 game.
Never one to go down without a fight, the Mids tightened the contest up with a single run in the bottom of the eighth. Saile got Navy going as he stroked his second double of the day down the left field line. The next batter, Borosak drove the freshman in with a single to centerfield. A double by Currie and walk by Travis Blue (Fr., Orange, Calif.) loaded the bases for Navy, but a crisply turned 6-4-3 double play ended the inning and the Mids’ hope of cutting further into the Bison lead.
A scoreless top of the ninth gave Navy one final chance. Facing off versus Bucknell’s newly-inserted closer Tucker Rekucki, the Mids got its first two runners on as Norman was hit by a pitch and Hayes drew a walk. Bucknell’s manager, Scott Heather quickly put an end to this potential rally as he called on his bullpen and Navy nemesis Xavier Hammond once again. The southpaw hurler did his job and held the Mids scoreless with two strikeouts and a fly out to center.
The game would go final with the score, 8-4. Navy outhit Bucknell, 16-10 in the contest and received multiple hits from six players, including three each from Currie, Hayes and Saile.
On the mound, Gillingham took the loss with a final line of 4.2 innings pitched and four strikeouts, while allowing six runs (three earned) on six hits and two walks. In relief, Moore hurled 4.1 innings and allowed two runs on four hits and three walks.
The pair of losses on Saturday ends Navy’s season at 23-28.
“They really did a lot of great things for us during their time with the program, but especially this year,” said Kostacopoulos. “They took an extremely, extremely young team and kept working with them, molding them and teaching them how to play the game and how to be a college athlete. More importantly, they taught the young players how to become a Midshipman at the Naval Academy, while balancing the demands of being an NCAA athlete. I couldn’t be more proud of those five young men. They’ll leave a strong legacy here; they’ll always be well thought of in the program and we appreciate having them. From their teammates to our staff, we all appreciate what they’ve done for the Navy baseball program. They’ve definitely left their marks.”
The Class of 2014 was the first class since 2003 to qualify and compete in the Patriot League tournament in all four years.
Robert Currie: 70 hits in a season – T7th All-Time // 26 stolen bases – 3rd // 5 triples – T15th // 11 HBP – T8th
Anthony Parenti: 8 wins in a season – T10th All-Time // 3 CG SHO – T2nd // 74 strikeouts – 12th // 1.52 ERA – 12th (Min. 50 IP)
Stephen Moore: 1.36 walks per 9 innings – 5th All-Time (Min. 50 IP)
Andrew Bartek: 21 appearances – T7th All-Time
Brandon Beans: 161 starts – 11th All-Time // 166 games played – 14th // 36 stolen bases – T11th // 10 triples – T12th // 32 doubles – T13th // 100 Runs scored – 20th
Kash Manzelli: 162 starts – T9th All-Time // 173 games played – T9th // 31 doubles – T15th // 107 RBIs – 16th // 1357 Fielding Putouts – 1st