Baseball Blanks Bucknell to Advance to the Patriot League Championship
Wes Olson pitched six complete innings to improve to 7-1 on Sunday.
May 15, 2011
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Navy baseball team advanced to the Patriot League Championship by defeating Bucknell, 6-0, in the deciding game three of the conference semifinal series on Sunday at Max Bishop Stadium. Navy, the No. 1 seed, will now host second-seeded Army in the best-of-three league championship series, beginning on Monday, May 23 at noon.
"It was great effort from the entire team - we were able to put all the facets together," said Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "We obviously pitched very well, played very good defense, executed on offense and played a complete game."
A day after going 19 consecutive innings without scoring a run, Navy got out to a quick start on Sunday by sending all nine hitters to the plate and scoring four runs in the bottom of the first.
"Whenever you get four runs like that, it just takes the pressure off," said Kostacopoulos. "I think it even takes the pressure off the pitcher a little bit because he can challenge more."
With runners on second and third with one out, Greg Dupell hit the first of three consecutive RBI singles as he drove in Brandon Beans with a base hit through the left side. Alex Azor followed by belting a ball through the right side that scored Taylor Cato for a 2-0 lead.
The next batter, Jeff Bland dropped a ball into right field, just beyond first base, bringing in another run.
Later with two outs, Kash Manzelli made it 4-0 when he smacked an RBI single through the middle.
With Matt Lemore on in relief of Bison starting pitcher Trey Frahler in the bottom of the third inning, the Mids manufactured another run to take a 5-0 lead.
After a leadoff double by Dupell, Azor moved him over to third base with a fly out to center field, and the next batter, Bland, brought him home with a sac fly to center field.
Wes Olson started his second game of the season and surrendered just two hits through four innings. He allowed just two base runners until the sixth inning when Bucknell made its biggest threat of the game with a two-out walk, followed by a single from Doug Shribman.
The next batter, Gerry Runyan, sent an offering from Olson toward Azor in center field, who picked up the ball on one hop and fired it to Dupell at third base. With Shribman sliding into third, Dupell caught the ball and applied the tag for the final out of the inning to keep the score 5-0.
A wild pitch plated Dylan Wheeler in the bottom of the seventh to give Navy an additional insurance run.
Preston Gainey replaced Olson with one runner on base in the top of the seventh and faced the minimum the rest of the way as he earned his third save of the season in relief.
Olson improved to 7-1 with the win as he scattered five hits, walked just one batter and struck out five. Like fellow senior pitcher Sam Long, who started game two on Saturday, Olson didn't want Sunday to be his last time taking the mound for Navy.
"You have to know that this is it and you're playing for your team," Olson said. "For Sam and I, this is it for good. So, you're going to go out there and leave it all on the field, and anytime you do that, things usually go well."
Navy will now play in its 11th Patriot League Championship series and its first since 2008. The best-of-three set with Army is slated to begin on Monday, May 23 at 12 p.m. at Max Bishop Stadium. It marks the first time a No. 1 seed has reached the league championship series since 2007.
Sunday's win marked the first shutout for Navy since a 3-0 win over Delaware State in the 2010 season finale.
Greg Dupell led Navy at the plate as he went 3-for-4 with one RBI and two runs scored...Jeff Bland led Navy with two RBIs.
Navy improved to 15-3 this season when scoring in the first inning... Navy is 18-7 when scoring first.
The Mids are 27-5 when holding opponents to five or fewer runs.
Navy is now 18-17 all-time in the Patriot League Tournament and 6-5 as a No. 1 seed.