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Baseball Ready to Face Air Force in the Freedom Classic

Ben Nelson

Feb. 21, 2013

Navy (2-2) vs. Air Force (0-4)
Dates Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. | Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. (DH) | Feb. 24 at 12:30 p.m.
Location Kinston, N.C. | Grainger Stadium
Game Notes Navy | Air Force
Season Stats Navy | Air Force
Live Stats Fri. | Sat. Gm. 1 | Sat. Gm. 2 | Sun.
Twitter Updates @NavyAtletics

Mids Face Air Force in the Freedom Classic
For the third consecutive season, Navy and Air Force will meet in the Freedom Classic in Kinston, N.C., with the series opener scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday. The two teams will meet in a doubleheader at 2 p.m. on Saturday and then close the series with a single game at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. All four games will be played at Grainger Stadium. Potential rain showers on Friday and Saturday could alter the weekend schedule, so check for any updates.

Scouting Air Force
The Falcons were swept in their season opening series at UTSA. Air Force hit .288 in the four-game set, led by senior Garrett Custons, who batted .538 (7-for-13). Junior pitcher Cameron White was Air Force's top pitcher, going 6.1 innings in the opener. Senior lefty Ben Bertelson struck out nine in game one Saturday.

Freedom Classic History
Air Force took two of three games from Navy at the event last season. The Falcons swept a doubleheader on Saturday, but the Mids bounced back to win game three on Sunday. Trailing 4-3 entering the ninth, Navy scored four runs to win, 7-4.

At the inaugural Freedom Classic in 2011, Air Force took game one, but the Mids responded to win game two, 6-4, and then took the rubber match, 13-3, as it scored 11 runs over the final three innings.

Manzelli Leads Navy at the Plate
Junior first baseman Kash Manzelli leads the Mids with a .467 batting average through the first-four games of the season. His four RBIs are tied with David Wideman for tops on the team. On Wednesday, Manzelli set a new career best with four hits, including a solo home run - the first by a Midshipman this season.

Nelson Moving Up The Charts
Senior starting pitcher Ben Nelson picked up his second consecutive Opening Day win last weekend and was named the Patriot League Pitcher of the Week. Nelson struck out six and scattered five hits over 7.0 innings to earn his 15th-career victory. His 6 Ks gave him a career total of 190, bumping him up to a tie with former teammate Sam Long for seventh-most strikeouts in program history. With four more Ks, Nelson will move into the top 10 on the Patriot League's career strikeout list.

Nelson's 36-career starts are tied for ninth best in school history. Last season, the right-hander's 67 strikeouts and 77.1 innings pitched both ranked third in the conference.

Freshmen Making an Early Impact
Navy had two freshmen in Robert Currie (center field) and Drew Hayes (second base) in its Opening Day lineup for the first time since 2008 when Nick Driscoll and Jonathan Wright both started. Currie, who has a hit in all four games this season, was named Patriot League Rookie of the Week after going hitting .308 with three RBIs last weekend.

In total, five Midshipmen made their collegiate debuts last weekend, including: Currie, Hayes, Connor Deneen, Luke Gillingham and Sam Sorenson.

On the mound, the lefty Gillingham has pitched 6.2 scoreless innings in two appearances. Gillingham earned the win last Sunday and has yet to walk a batter this season. Fellow freshman Sam Sorenson has allowed one hit in 2.0 innings.

Wiedeman Named Conference Player of the Week
Sophomore shortstop David Wiedeman was named Patriot League Player of the Week for the second time in his career after going 4-for-10 last weekend. His three hits in the series finale were a career high, while the three RBIs tied a single-game best. He is one of four Mids, along with Dave Milanes, Robert Currie and Greg Dupell, to reach base safely in all four games this season.

Navy and the Tar Heel State
The Midshipmen are 8-4 in North Carolina since 2010. This season the Mids boast just one player from North Carolina in freshman infielder Ryan Turner (Boone).

Dupell Returns, But in the Outfield
Two-time second-team All-Patriot League selection Greg Dupell is Navy's top-returning run producer with 82-career RBIs. Over the last two years Dupell has played both first and third base, but the Mids lost three outfielders after last season and the versatile senior made the switch to left field.

Dupell's 12-career home runs are tied for ninth on the program's all-time list. Last season he ranked in the top five in the conference in several categories, including: RBIs (44, second), runs (38, fifth), home runs (5, fifth), triples (6, first), doubles (14, third) and total bases (100, third).

Solid in the Field in 2012
Navy's .971 fielding percentage last season was the second best in school history with only the 1987 team's .973 mark ranking higher. The Midshipmen committed 56 errors in 2012, compared to their opponent's total of 81.

Rinehart Earns Another Save
Senior reliever and team captain Joel Rinehart picked up his first of 2013 in the season opening win over Norfolk State. He now has 13 saves for his career - three shy of tying J.D. Melton for the top spot on Navy's all-time saves list. His 57-career appearances rank in a tie for fourth in program history.

For the second consecutive season, Rinehart was named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List. The award is given annually to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball.

Nominations for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award were made by baseball sports information/media relations contacts. The initial list of 75 will be updated with a mid-season release the week of April 16, including the national saves leaders.

Mids Among the Nation's Best in Triples
The Mids belted their first two triples of the season on Wednesday. Last season, Navy led the Patriot League and ranked eighth in the nation in triples with 27. The Mids' triples per game average of 0.52 was fifth highest in the country.

The 27 triples tied for the second-highest total in school history, just three shy of tying the 1995 squad for first place. Greg Dupell and Andrew Hahn led the Patriot League with six triples each.

Dupell is Navy's Current Iron Man
Greg Dupell is Navy's active leader in consecutive starts with 110 entering this weekend's series. The senior started the final 54 games of the 2011 season and was the only Mid to start all 52 last season.

The Senior Class
With 10 seniors, Navy has its largest senior class since 2010. The group has combined for 615 games played and 427 starts entering the season.

The 10 seniors received their service assignments in late November. Three Mids will be commissioned as Marine Corps 2nd Lieutenants, including: Johnny Schoberl (Marine Corps Ground), Dave Milanes (Marine Corps Ground) and Jake Coffey (Marine Corps Pilot). The balance of the class will be commissioned as Ensigns in the Navy, including: Greg Dupell (Pilot), Craig Veech (Pilot), Dylan Wheeler (Pilot), Ben Nelson (Naval Flight Officer), Chris Campbell (Naval Intelligence), Stephen Geiss (Surface Warfare) and Joel Rinehart (Nuclear Surface Warfare).

Graduates of the Naval Academy serve a minimum of five years in the Navy or Marine Corps, while pilots serve eight years upon earning their wings.

Up Next
Navy will host Central Connecticut State in a four-game series March 1-3 at Max Bishop Stadium. Game one of the series is scheduled for Friday, March 1 at 2 p.m.



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