Feb. 11, 2014
Later this week the Navy baseball team will begin its 2014 regular season at Florida A&M. In a two-part release, NavySports.com will preview the upcoming season. Today's edition focuses exclusively on the team's pitching staff.
A season after leading the Patriot League in pitching, the Navy baseball hurlers will be counted on heavily once again in 2014 as the Midshipmen will look to replace multiple key pieces on the offensive side of the ball. Navy returns 16 letterwinners from a 2013 team that earned the second seed in the Patriot League postseason tournament. To make up for the loss of a large graduating class, Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos and his staff added 15 freshmen for 2014.
Pitching will be a strength of the Mids as the junior duo of Stephen Moore and Anthony Parenti return along with sophomore Luke Gillingham giving Navy three of its four weekend starters back.
Moore, a member of the Patriot League’s All-League First Team in 2013, went 4-3 with a 3.24 ERA and 46 strikeouts over 58.1 innings pitched in his full season in the starting rotation as a sophomore. A consistent starter for Navy throughout the season, he never allowed more than four runs in an appearance, including eight games with two or less runs allowed.
His classmate Parenti, was strong as well as he led the Mids in innings pitched and strikeouts with 63.2 innings and 65 strikeouts, respectively. A clutch performer in conference play, he posted four quality starts of six innings pitched and three or less earned runs allowed out.
As a freshman in 2013, Gillingham posted the lowest ERA of pitchers in the starting rotation for Navy at 3.23. A two-time Patriot League Rookie of the Week, he finished his debut campaign with a nine-inning complete-game with a career-high 12 strikeouts in a 6-1 win over Lehigh.
“Having the front end of our rotation back is big,” said Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos
. “In the early portion of the season, we will lean heavily on our pitching as we learn about and find the right mix for our offense. Also with the Patriot League’s four-game series setup, having three veteran and successful arms is significant.”
A trio of freshmen will vie for the fourth spot in the weekend rotation, as well as midweek starts. Kyle Condry, George Coughlin and Michael McCormick will all get chances to prove themselves during non-conference play during the opening weeks of the season.
“The early part of the year will be important for our pitching staff as we will give Condry, Coughlin and McCormick opportunities to get live innings under their belt,” said Kostacopoulos. “We will take our time finding the right combination for our rotation, as well as our bullpen, as we will slot the two freshmen that don’t make the conference play rotation into relief roles."
Navy’s relief corps will be led by a pair of sophomores in Andrew Bartek and Sam Sorenson, who broke into the collegiate reliever ranks in 2013 under the tutelage of Navy’s all-time leader in games pitched, Joel Rinehart.
Bartek got a late start to his freshman season due to lingering injuries, but once he debuted in April, he allowed just one earned run over 12 innings pitched in five appearances down the stretch. In addition to his 0.75 ERA, he held opponents to a .162 batting average.
Sorenson was a key component to Navy’s bullpen from the beginning as he appeared in the second-most games (21), while also saving the second-most games (3). He supplemented his 3-0 record with a 4.06 ERA, 20 strikeouts and a .228 opponents’ batting average.
Junior Charlie LaMar will be the top left-handed option for the Mids in 2014. As a sophomore last year, LaMar saw action in a variety of roles, including starting and long-relief. He pitched in 11 games covering 19.1 innings, while striking out 15 batters and collecting a save.
“Bartek, Sorenson and LaMar will all have key roles for us in the back of the bullpen right from the start,” said Kostacopoulos. “Patriot League series really force you to have two strong guys for short relief situations. With these three veterans, we should be covered for a variety of situations.”
Senior Matt Kilby, who will be pitching full-time for his second season, heads a deep group of relievers that will audition for defined roles during the non-conference part of the schedule.
Six of Navy’s 15-man freshmen class are slated to see action in relief. A talented group, four of the freshmen earned Rawlings All-Region Honorable Mention nods in high school, including Isaac Taylor, Tyler Ridgeway, Adam Johnson and Brian Wikoff. Kevin McKelvey, a veteran of NAPS and Colby Sciarrilla, an all-around athlete, who was his high school’s catcher, as well as a pitcher, round out the freshmen scheduled to see action in Navy’s bullpen.
“With a large class of young pitchers, we’ll take the non-conference portion of the schedule to throw them in different situations and see who can do what and where they should be slotted to succeed the best,” said Kostacopoulos.
Check back tomorrow for a preview of the 2014 Navy offense.