2018 Schedule Released for Navy Baseball
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Winners of three straight Patriot League regular season championships, the Navy baseball team announced on Tuesday its 51-game schedule for the 2018 season. The Mids will kick off their campaign on Feb. 16 with the first of three games at a round-robin weekend tournament in Winston-Salem. 11 days after opening their season on the road, the Mids (37-17 in 2017) will begin the home portion of its schedule with a mid-week contest on Feb. 27 versus UMBC. In total, Navy will play five home weekend series in 2018, including three against Patriot League opposition.
Under the direction of 13th-year head coach Paul Kostacopoulos, Navy gets its 2018 campaign rolling on the road in Winston-Salem, N.C. for a three-game series to be played at Wake Forest's David F. Couch Ballpark during the weekend of Feb. 16-18. Opening with a Friday game versus Gardner-Webb, Navy will move onto a Saturday competition against the host Demon Deacons. Of note, Wake Forest finished its 2017 season one game shy of reaching Omaha and the College World Series as the team fell in the Gainesville Super Regional to Florida, two games to one. On Sunday, Feb. 18, the Mids and Georgetown Hoyas will face off to complete the trio games.
The next weekend, Feb. 23-25, Navy will travel south again for a three-game series versus Air Force for the eighth annual installment of the Freedom Classic in Kinston, N.C. Playing at Kinston's Historic Grainger Stadium, the Mids and Falcons will go head-to-head in single games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The 2017 Freedom Classic saw the teams split the first two games with offense leading the way in both club's respective wins, 11-3 for Navy and 19-8 for Air Force, before an extra-inning pitcher's duel in game three went the way of the Falcons, 3-2 in 10 innings. As a part of the Classic, Navy will participate in various community service activities in the Eastern North Carolina region.
Tuesday, Feb. 27 begins the first of 10 straight home games for the Mids, the longest stretch of consecutive contests at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium in 2018. First up on the home docket for Navy is back-to-back mid-week contests with UMBC on Tuesday and Coppin State on Wednesday, Feb. 28. After a two-day break, the Mids' first home weekend series will see the squad welcome the NJIT Highlanders for doubleheaders on Saturday, March 3 and Sunday, March 4. Navy and NJIT first met in 2016 for a pair of non-conference games. The Mids won both matchups; 7-3 and 4-0.
The following week, a Wednesday non-conference tilt with Maryland Eastern Shore will be the precursor for a three-game set with Rider from March 9 through March 11. Those three single games against the Broncs will be the first between Navy and Rider since 1964. The Broncs are members of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Navy's final two tune-up games before Patriot League play will see the Mids travel to Maryland Eastern Shore on Wednesday, March 14 and Delaware State on Thursday, March 15,
Patriot League action will have a new look to it in 2018 as the conference and its leadership voted to install a 25-game league schedule versus the previous mark of 20 games. To attain 25 league contests, the schedule has added two extra weeks of action with home-and-home series for each of the respective five matchups. Outside of single four-game/one-game home-road split for teams versus their travel partner, in Navy's case, Bucknell, all other Patriot League series will see three/two and two/three home-road series splits. The three-game series will consist of a Saturday doubleheader (7 innings/9 innings) and a single Sunday tilt, while the capping two-game series will be completed in a doubleheader.
The Mids' first taste of the new Patriot League schedule begins on the road in Lewisburg on March 17-18 with a pair of doubleheaders at Bucknell. The rivalry between the two schools saw each take earn three victories in 2017 with Navy winning the regular season series, three games to one before Bucknell got its revenge in the Patriot League Semifinals with a two-game sweep of the Mids in Annapolis.
A Wednesday contest at Georgetown on March 21 concludes Navy's seven-game road trip. That game will be the second of three between the Mids and Hoyas in 2018. The two teams split the 2017 series with Georgetown winning 11-3 in Annapolis in February and Navy returning the favor in Bethesda with a 6-2 win in March.
Patriot League play picks back up for the Mids on Saturday, March 24 with a doubleheader versus Holy Cross. The following day, March 25, Army comes into town for the two-game Annapolis portion of the 117-year series between the service academy rivals.
After taking on Coppin State in a mid-week contest on Wednesday, March 28, the first of four straight three-game Patriot League weekends kicks off with a home series against Lafayette. A doubleheader on Saturday, March 31 begins play between the Mids and Leopards before a single game on Sunday wraps up the matchup. Navy swept Lafayette in four game in 2017 and has won 12 of 15 meetings since the beginning of 2015 versus the squad from Easton, Pa.
A home visit from Delaware State on Wednesday, April 4 separates the Mids from their next series in Worcester, Mass. versus Holy Cross on the weekend of April 7-8. The first and second-place finishers in the Patriot League regular season in both 2016 and 2017, Navy earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in 2016, while Holy Cross took the honors in 2017. Last year, the two clubs split a four-game series that saw games played in Providence, R.I. and Northborough, Mass. due to inclement weather in the Northeast.
The third game of the Navy-Georgetown trifecta will take place on Wednesday, April 11 before the Mids host the Mountain Hawks of Lehigh for another three-game Patriot League series over the weekend of April 14-15. Navy swept a four-game series at Lehigh in 2017, though the first three games saw the Mids edge the Mountain Hawks by slim one-run margins of 2-1, 3-2 and 1-0. That four-game sweep was part of Navy's season-long 13-game win streak from April 5 through April 22. All-time, 13 consecutive wins ranks third in Navy's record book trailing just the 1961 club that won 19 straight and the 1986 team that was victorious in 14 straight.
Navy wraps up its five-game series of 2018 regular season contests versus Bucknell with a home matchup against the Bison on Wednesday, April 18.
The Mids will have little time between that mid-week league game and its next series as the team will hit the road for three games versus Army on the weekend. In 2017, Navy took three of four games in West Point over the Black Knights with substantial 7-3, 7-2 and 10-6 victories. All-time, Navy leads the series that began in 1901, 120-109. The Mids have won the past three annual matchups (12 games total) by a 10-2 margin with a 4-0 series sweep in 2016 and 3-1 advantages in 2015 and 2017.
Navy bookends its two-game 2018 set with UMBC on Tuesday, April 24 on the road in Baltimore.
On the ensuing weekend, both the Lafayette and Lehigh series will conclude with a Saturday, April 28 doubleheader at Lafayette before heading down the road less than 10 miles for a Sunday twinbill at Lehigh.
Games 49, 50 and 51 during the weekend of May 5-6 will see the Mids wrap up their regular season versus on a familiar face, but new opponent in former pitching coach Ryan Mau and the Longwood Lancers. Game one of the three-game series will be played on Saturday at a location to be determined, while on Sunday the teams will play a doubleheader in Annapolis. Mau guided Navy's pitching staff from 2011 through 2014. The Mids and Lancers have never met on the baseball diamond as the squad from Farmville, Va. transitioned to NCAA Division I in 2005.
The Patriot League Semifinals are scheduled to begin the weekend of May 12-13. The conference's top four teams qualify for the tournament, with the top two seeds hosting the lower two seeds in a best-of-three semifinal series. The two advancing teams will meet at the higher remaining seed on May 18-20 in a best-of-three championship series.