Baseball Heads to Bucknell For Weekend Series
Ben Nelson is slated to start the first game on Saturday.
April 6, 2012
Navy Heads to Bucknell for Critical Early Season Series
The Midshipmen will head to Lewisburg, Pa., to meet Bucknell in their first conference series away from home. The teams will play doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday at noon.
Navy has won or split its last six conference-opening road sets.
The two teams have split three of their last five regular-season sets, while Navy leads the all-time series, 64-54-1. Last season, the two teams split the regular-season series (April 17-18) in Annapolis before meeting in the semifinals of the Patriot League tournament. After falling in a 16-inning affair in game one, 1-0, Navy bounced back to win the final two contests, 6-1 and 6-0, to advance.
Navy and Bucknell both went 3-3 against the six non-conference common opponents - Georgetown, Bradley, Eastern Illinois, Northwestern, Mount St. Mary's and Maryland - the two teams share. Both teams picked up wins over Georgetown and Northwestern, while the Bison defeated Mount St. Mary's and the Mids downed Eastern Illinois.
The Navy defense has turned at least one double play in eight of the last nine games, including a season-high three in the win over Coppin State on Wednesday. Of the Mids' 12 double plays in the last nine games, nine were inning-enders.
Navy has turned 21 double plays this season, three more than it had through 28 games in 2011 en route to a total of 46.
Kostacopoulos Approaching Win No. 700
Head coach Paul Kostacopoulos is now two wins shy of 700 for his career. In his 23rd season as a head coach and seventh at Navy, Kostacopoulos has a career record of 698-486-6 and has more career wins than any other current head coach in the Patriot League. Entering 2012, he was 36th on the NCAA Division I Winningest Active Coaches list as ranked by victories.
Navy added to its Patriot League-leading triples total with two more on Wednesday and now has 15 this season. When NCAA statistics were released on Monday, the Midshipmen ranked ninth in the nation in triples. Nikolai Simonsen is the team leader with four triples.
Last year Navy belted 23 triples, which was the 18th-highest total in the country.
Pitching Staff Continues to Rack Up Ks
The Navy pitching staff continues to lead the Patriot League in strikeouts. With seven more in Wednesday's win over Coppin State, the Mids now have a season total of 209.
Navy set a program record with 423 strikeouts in 2011 and had a total of 196 Ks through 28 games last season.
The Captain is Climbing Navy's All-Time Hits Chart
Senior Alex Azor has moved into eighth place on Navy's all-time hits list with a career total of 181. Azor racked up a team-high seven hits in last weekend's series and is 9-for-21 (.429) over the last six games.
Azor returned to the Navy lineup on March 14 after missing 11 games due to injury and made his presence known immediately as he tripled in his first at-bat against Eastern Illinois. The senior has a hit in 10 of the past 13 games in which he has played since returning to the lineup.
The Miami, Fla., native needs six hits to move into a tie for seventh place on Navy's all-time hits list and needs one double to jump into a tie for 11th on the program's career doubles chart.
Sophs Stepping Up
Sophomores Nikolai Simonsen (25 hits), Brandon Beans (23 hits), Chance Jones (22 hits) and Kash Manzelli (22 hits) rank second through fourth on the team in hits and have combined for 39% of the Mids' total hits this season.
In 2011, Beans (43 starts) and Manzelli (15 starts) were the only two rookies to start more than six games, while Jones did not see any action and Simonsen had just three at-bats.
Beans, who has battled injuries this season, has started all 19 games in which he has appeared and ranks third on the team in hits. He has reached base in a team-high 13 consecutive games heading into this weekend.
Jones leads the Mids with 24 RBIs, while Simonsen has started every game since March 4 and is hitting .291.
Nelson Enters Navy Career Lists
Junior starting pitcher Ben Nelson has worked his way onto Navy's all-time strikeouts and games-started lists. With three Ks in his last outing, Nelson now has 153 for his career, ranking 15th on Navy's all-time strikeouts list. He needs nine Ks to move into a tie for 13th place. With one more start, Nelson will move into a tie for 14th place on the Mids' career games-started chart. The Navy record for games started is 45, set by Mark McCoy (2005-08).
Nelson ranks second in the conference in strikeouts with 36 entering this weekend.
Rinehart Gets it Done
After picking up a safe in two innings of work against Georgetown on March 28, junior reliever Joel Rinehart moved into a tie for second place on Navy's all-time saves list with 11. With four wins and two saves this season, Rinehart has been the Mids' most valuable arm out of the bullpen in 2012. Rinehart picked up both of Navy's wins in the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational as against Eastern Illinois, he pitched the final three and two-thirds innings, allowing one run off one hit and didn't issue a walk. In pitching the final two innings against Northwestern, Rinehart blanked the Wildcats, setting up the Mids walk-off victory in the bottom of the ninth.
In 10 appearances totaling 21.1 innings, the native of Kingwood, Texas, has 23 strikeouts and just six walks.
Jones Drives `Em In
Sophomore Chance Jones enters the weekend second in the Patriot League with 24 RBIs. In 21 starting assignments, 13 of which have come behind the plate, Jones is hitting .286 with 10 extra-base hits.
Jones got off to a hot start as he had at least two RBIs in each of his first five starts of the season and now has eight-multi RBI games. He homered in both games of a doubleheader against Air Force on Feb. 25 and drove in a career-best four runs in game one.
In four appearances out of the bullpen this season, junior Jake Coffey has yet to allow an earned run. Coffey has 10 strikeouts, just two walks in 6.2 innings and is holding opponents to a .200 batting average. He picked up his first-career win against Georgetown on March 28, pitching a hitless 2.1 innings in relief.
Dupell is Navy's Current Iron Man
With Alex Azor's string of 97 consecutive starts coming to an end earlier this year, Greg Dupell is now Navy's active leader in consecutive starts with 82. Dupell started the final 54 games of 2011 and is the only Mid to have started all 28 games this season.
Rinehart on Stopper of the Year Watch List
Junior reliever Joel Rinehart was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Stopper of the Year watch list, which is awarded annually to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball.
The initial watch list will be updated with a mid-season release the week of April 16, including the national saves leaders. At the conclusion of the regular season, the Division I national saves leader and four other relief pitching standouts will be selected as finalists and released June 6, prior to start of NCAA Super Regional tournament competition.
Keeping Runners Alert
After recording nine pickoffs last season, the Mids have five through 23 games this season. The Mids did not record a pickoff in 2010 and had just two in 2009. The Navy record for pickoffs in a season is 11, set by the 2006 squad.
Navy Baseball Hits the Airwaves Live audio will be available for 24 regular-season games on NavySports.com as part of the Navy All-Access package this year. Of the 24 games that will be streamed online, eight of those contests will also air live on WNAV (99.9 FM/1430 AM) in Annapolis with Pete Medhurst, Joe Miller and Ben Gordon-Goldstein handling the play-by-play duties.
Live video streaming via Navy All-Access at NavySports.com will also be provided for several games this season. For the most up-to-date information on Navy's live streaming schedule, check NavySports.com.