Navy Hosts Lehigh in Final Regular-Season Series
Senior Alex Azor
April 27, 2012
Navy Hosts Lehigh in Final Regular-Season Series
Navy welcomes Lehigh to Max Bishop Stadium for the final regular-season series of the year with doubleheaders scheduled to begin at noon on Saturday and Sunday.
Navy enters the series alone in third place in the Patriot League with a 7-9 record in the conference. Navy needs just one win to clinch a berth in the conference tournament.
Navy leads the all-time series, 61-34. The Mids took three of four games from Lehigh last season in the first conference series of the year. Navy is 14-6 against the Mountain Hawks, dating back to 2007. Lehigh is making its first trip to Annapolis since 2008 when Navy won its two home games in a four-game home-and-home set. Navy also went 2-0 at home in a home-and-home series in 2007 and has not lost a series to Lehigh since being swept at home in 2006.
The Mountain Hawks are currently tied with Lafayette at 4-12 for fifth place in the Patriot League and are coming off dropping three of four games to Holy Cross last weekend ... Lehigh's other conference wins came against Lafayette (two) and Bucknell (one) ... Navy and Lehigh share three common opponents and the Mountain Hawks went 5-0-1 against the trio of Coppin State (2-0), Delaware State (1-0-1), UMES (2-0) ... As a team, Lehigh is hitting .280, led by senior Brendan McGaheran's .314 batting average ... Joe Abeln leads the team in RBIs with 25 and senior third baseman Ryan Gajdos is second with 23 ... The pitching staff sports an ERA of 6.09 and opponents are hitting .312 against the Mountain Hawks.
When NCAA statistics were released on Monday, the Midshipmen ranked fourth in the nation in triples with 23. The Mids have ranked in the top 10 in the country in triples for six consecutive weeks and are 14-3 in games when they belt a triple this season. Nikolai Simonsen and Andrew Hahn are tied for the league lead with five triples each.
Navy has equaled its triples total from last season and needs seven more to tie the school record of 30, set by the 1995 team.
Navy's Power Supply
Greg Dupell was fittingly named the Patriot League's Player of the Week on Tuesday after hitting .524 with 11 RBIs in six games last week. However, Dupell's hot streak at the plate extends beyond last week, as the junior has at least one hit in 12 of the past 13 games and has 20 of his Patriot League-leading 41 RBIs over the 13-game span. Dupell's torrid 13-game streak began with a home run and two RBIs in the final game of the series at Bucknell on April 8. In the last 13 games, he is hitting .438 (21-for-48) and has RBIs in 11 contests.
CollegeBaseballInsider.com also recognized Dupell this week as its Northeast Region Player of the Week.
Last season, Dupell earned second-team All-Patriot League honors as he tied Alex Azor for second in the conference in hits (69). His 35 RBIs ranked seventh in the league.
Home Run Barrage
The Midshipmen nearly doubled their season home run total last weekend by hitting seven home runs in the four-game sweep of Lafayette. The Mids' seven home runs were the most in a series by a Navy team since the 1998 squad hit eight over the wall in a four-game set at Lafayette.
The Mids belted four home runs in the 21-3 rout of the Leopards in game two of last Saturday's doubleheader; it was Navy's highest single-game home run total since hitting five in a 16-3 win over Mount St. Mary's on March 27, 2007.
Navy enters play this weekend with 16 home runs, two shy of league-leading Holy Cross. The Mids belted 21 round-trippers last season, which was the eighth-highest single-season total in program history.
The Navy defense has turned 34 double plays this season, which is the second most in the Patriot League. The Mids had just 11 double plays through the first half of the season, but have since turned 23, including 16 in the last 16 games. Navy turned a season-high three double plays in its win over Coppin State on April 4, while it produced a total of six in its four-game series against Army.
Last season Navy had 46 double plays.
The Captain is Climbing Navy's All-Time Hits Chart; Hits First-Career Homer
With a career total of 201 hits, senior Alex Azor is now just one hit away from moving into a tie for fifth place on Navy's all-time hits list. Azor hit .333 last weekend and had a career day in Satuday's doubleheader. In game one, Azor tied a career high with five RBIs in a 4-for-5 performance, while in the second game, he belted his first career home run. Azor's home run, which cleared the right-field wall, came on the 584th at-bat of his career.
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 Miami, Fla., native has reached base safely in 28 of the past 29 games in which he has appeared.
Azor ranks 11th on the program's career doubles chart with 35 and needs two more to move into the top 10.
Manzelli Breaks Loose
Kash Manzelli enters this weekend with a team and career-high 10-game hitting streak. The sophomore first baseman is 16-for-40 (.400) over the 10-game stretch and has 15 RBIs, including at least one in each of the last five games. Prior to the 10-game hitting streak, which started on April 14 against Holy Cross, Manzelli had a total of just four hits in the previous 10 games.
Manzelli hit the first two home runs of his career last weekend, including a grand slam in the 21-3 victory on April 21. The native of Dunwoody, Ga., is now hitting .288 and his 28 RBIs are the second most on the team.
Dupell Working His Way Up the Career Home Run Chart
After going the first 31 games of the season without a home run, Greg Dupell has quickly become tied for second in the Patriot League in homers. Dupell has hit five home runs in the Mids' last 13 games, including two against Lafayette last weekend.
With a career total of 12, he is currently tied for the ninth-most homers in Navy history and is just two away from moving into seventh place.
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 five Ks in his last outing, Nelson now has 169 for his career and is four strikeouts away from moving into the top 10 in Navy history. With 33-career starts, Nelson is beginning to move up the Navy all-time games started list and currently stands in 11th place. The Navy record for games started is 45, set by Mark McCoy (2005-08).
Nelson enters the weekend with a total of 52 strikeouts, which ranks third in the Patriot League.
Thank You, Seniors!
Seniors Alex Azor, Andrew Hahn, Josh Moore and Zach Sipe will be honored prior to Saturday's first game. Entering the weekend, the four seniors have been a part of 103 victories during their four years in Annapolis.
Navy's four seniors received their service assignments on Nov. 30, 2011. Both Alex Azor and Josh Moore will be commissioned as Marine Corps Officers (Marine Corps Ground), while Andrew Hahn (Surface Warfare) and Zach Sipe (Naval Flight Officer) will be commissioned as Navy Officers.
Graduation for the class of 2012 will take place this spring on May 29. Naval Academy graduates serve a minimum of five years in the Navy or Marine Corps, while pilots serve eight years upon earning their wings.
One After Another
Andrew Hahn became the third Midshipman to homer in consecutive games this season when he went deep in both games of a doubleheader at Lafayette last weekend. Prior to that, Greg Dupell homered in the first inning of game two against Bucknell on April 8 and again in the first frame versus George Mason on April 11. Earlier this season, Chance Jones homered in both games of a doubleheader against Air Force (Feb. 25).
For Dupell, it marks the second consecutive year he has homered in back-to-back games. Last season, he went deep in both games of a doubleheader at Army on April 10.
700 and Counting
Head coach Paul Kostacopoulos reached the 700-win plateau in Navy's 3-2 win over Bucknell on April 8. He became the 37th-active NCAA Division I head coach to reach 700-career wins. In his 23rd season as a head coach and seventh at Navy, Kostacopoulos has a career record of 706-494-6 and has more career wins than any other current head coach in the Patriot League.
For hitting the milestone-win mark, Kostacopoulos was named to the College Baseball Hall of Fame's National All-Star Lineup on April 12.
Pitching Staff Continues to Rack Up Ks
The Navy pitching staff has led the Patriot League in strikeouts all season and enters the weekend with a conference-high total of 288.
Navy set a program record with 423 strikeouts in 2011.
21 x 2
In defeating Lafayette, 21-3, in game two of a doubleheader on April 21, Navy put up its second 21-run game of the year. Navy opened its home schedule on Feb. 22 with a 21-1 win over UMES, posting their highest run total and largest margin of victory since defeating Hartford, 24-2, on March 22, 2003. It was the first time Navy hit the 20-run mark since a 20-5 win over Lafayette in 2010.
In scoring 21 runs in two games this season, in marks the first time since 1998 that a Navy team has scored at least 20 runs twice in a season. Like this season, both games of 20-plus runs in 1998 came against Lafayette and UMES, as the Mids defeated the Leopards, 30-2, and UMES, 24-3.
Rinehart Gets it Done
After picking up a safe in two innings of work in the final game of the series at Lafayette, junior reliever Joel Rinehart is now alone in second place on Navy's all-time saves list with 12. With four wins and three 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 16 appearances totaling 31.0 innings, the native of Kingwood, Texas, has 31 strikeouts and just 11 walks.
Gainey Earns Three Consecutive Wins
After picking up his first win as a starter on April 8 with a 3-2 victory over Bucknell, then following it with a win against Holy Cross on April 15, Preston Gainey made it three straight with a complete-game victory over Lafayette last weekend. In complete-game wins over both Bucknell and Lafayette, Gainey limited both teams to just four hits.
Gainey has a 3.74 ERA and has 43 strikeouts in 43.1 innings of work this season.
Young Players Stepping In
Navy has received significant contributions from its underclassmen over the past two seasons. This year, the Mids' lineup has featured no fewer than a total of five freshmen or sophomores in 28 of 44 games, while on the mound, freshman pitchers Anthony Parenti and Stephen Moore have combined for 10 starts. A total of eight freshmen and sophomores have combined for 49% of the team's hits, while seven first or second-year players have combined to drive in 48% of the team's runs. Last season, at total of 12 freshmen and sophomores combined for over 60% of the Mids' RBIs and over 50% of the team's hits.
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 98. Dupell started the final 54 games of 2011 and is the only Mid to have started all 44 games this season.
Navy will host Coppin State on Tuesday at 4 p.m. and then travel to Delaware State for a 3 p.m. game on Wednesday.