May 12, 2012
WORCESTER, Mass. -
The Navy baseball team's season came to an end on Saturday in Worcester, Mass., as the Mids dropped both games of a doubleheader to Holy Cross in the Patriot League Tournament semifinals. The Crusaders claimed game one, 1-0, and then won game two, 4-2, in 10 innings to take the best-of-three series.
Navy ends the season with a record of 23-29, while Holy Cross, now 32-20, advances to the Patriot League Tournament championship series.
With game two tied, 2-2, in the top of the 10th inning, a wild pitch, single and walk loaded the bases for the Crusaders. Patrick Puentes and Evan Ocello then each drew full-count walks, bringing in the eventual winning runs.
Brandon Cipolla drove in the only run of the game in game one, as his one-out double down the left field line plated Steven Tkowski in the bottom of the sixth inning. Starting pitchers Preston Gainey of Navy and Nate Koneski of Holy Cross combined for 15 strikeouts as each threw seven-complete innings.
"I thought our staff did a great job all day today, holding a very good Holy Cross team to a total of just five runs," said Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "It really boiled down to their pitching being just a little bit better than our pitching today."
Tkowski got on base with a one-out double in the bottom of the sixth and Cipolla followed with a double of his own. Cipolla's shot down the left field line sailed just out of the reach of Greg Dupell at third base, allowing Tkowski to score.
Despite taking the loss, Gainey turned in one of his most impressive performances of the year as he struck out a career-high nine batters in seven-complete innings of work.
"Preston did a great job," said Kostacopoulos. "It was one of those games where, unfortunately, we just didn't put enough offense together to win. Preston threw very well and deserved a better fate."
Koneski finished with six strikeouts and two walks as he scattered just two hits over seven-complete innings. He improved to 7-2 with the win.
After giving up a single to Holy Cross' first batter, Mike Ahmed, Gainey retired eight consecutive until a pair of infield singles put two runners on base for the Crusaders in the bottom of the third inning. A full-count walk loaded the bases, but Gainey was able to get the next batter, Jordan Enos, to ground out to Josh Moore at second base, ending the inning.
A Crusader single and a pair of Navy errors in the bottom of the fifth loaded the bases again for Holy Cross, but once more Gainey came through with consecutive strikeouts to keep the game scoreless.
In the eighth, Ahmed moved to the pitcher's mound and walked the first batter. He then gave up a one-out single to Nikolai Simonsen, putting the potential winning runs on base. Closer John Colella took over and was able to fan Dupell and then got a ground out to get out of the inning.
Colella issued a leadoff walk in the top of the ninth and then hit Andrew Hahn to give the Mids a pair of runners. But pinch-hitter Chris Campbell bounced into fielder's choice for the second out and then Colella struck out Grant LaTerza to end the game.
With game two scoreless in the top of the fourth inning, Holy Cross used a trio of singles to take a 2-0 lead. Enos led off the inning with a base hit and after sacrifice bunt moved him into scoring position, Chris Sintetos knocked a single through the middle to plate the first run. Barry made it 2-0 with another RBI base hit. His single sailed just over the outstretched glove of Manzelli at first base, dropping in shallow right field.
Holy Cross game-two starting pitcher Donny Murray yielded just one hit through four innings, but with two outs in the fifth, Moore belted a single through the middle to give Navy its second base runner of the game. The next batter, Simonsen worked his way into a 2-2 count and then turned on an offering from Murray and belted it over the wall in left-center field to tie the game at two.
For Simonsen, it was the first home run of his career.
Navy's game-two starting pitcher Ben Nelson retired nine consecutive at one point after a walk in the fifth inning. After issuing a pair of walks with two outs in the top of the eighth, Joel Rinehart took over on the hill.
"Ben had a great outing," said Kostacopoulos. "He didn't throw the ball down the middle of the plate and picked his spots all day."
Rinehart got out of the eighth with a strikeout and then retired the Crusaders in order in the top of the ninth.
A leadoff single by David Wiedeman and a one-out walk to Hahn put the Mids in position to win in the bottom of the ninth. Colella then took over and walked the first batter he faced, Dupell, to load the bases. But Colella was able to get Dave Milanes looking at strike three and then struck out Manzelli to send the game to the 10th inning.
"We had a chance to win that game and didn't do it," said Kostacopoulos. "We didn't have a ton of opportunities, but that was one we needed to cash in on."
Rinehart quickly retired the first two Crusader hitters in the top of the 10th via strikeouts, but a wild pitch on a third strike allowed Sintetos to reach base, keeping the inning alive. Tkowski followed with a slow-rolling base hit through the right side and Cipolla walked to load the bases. Puentes and Ocello then each drew full-count walks, bringing in a pair of runs to give Holy Cross a 4-2 lead.
Colella walked pinch-hitters Campbell and Chance Jones in the bottom of the 10th, but then struck out Azor to end the game.
Rinehart suffered the loss, ending the year 5-5. Colella earned the win, improving to 5-1.