April 10, 2016
EASTON, Pa. – The Navy baseball team showcased a dominant brand of baseball on Sunday as the Midshipmen swept a road Patriot League doubleheader at Lafayette. Behind a relentless offensive attack and strong pitching performances, the Mids (24-8-1, 4-2 PL) won game one by a 7-0 score and game two by an 8-4 margin over the Leopards (9-19, 3-3 PL) at Kamine Stadium.
Offensively over the doubleheader, Navy combined for 15 runs on 28 hits, eight of which were of the extra-base variety. Stephen Born (So., Strafford, Pa.) led the hot-hitting squad with three singles, three doubles and five RBIs. He was backed up by strong results from Matthew Wilcox (Fr., Los Gatos, Calif.), Adrian Chinnery (Jr., Wilmington, Del.), Connor Deneen (Sr., Tustin, Calif.) and Sean Trent (Sr., Sorrento, Fla.), who all reached base on four or more occasions.
“We got a really good offensive performance with 28 combined hits over the two games,” remarked head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. “We got a lot out of Stephen Born, who put together some really complete at bats during the day. Honestly, we got great production from throughout the lineup. Connor Deneen was right on the ball during his times at bat. We got a lot of contributions from a lot of different people. I’m really happy with how we swung the bat today.”
On the mound, game one starter Luke Gillingham (Sr., Coronado, Calif.) hurled his fifth career complete game shutout with just four hits allowed versus the Leopards. The senior left-hander, struck out five batters over his seven innings pitching. In game two, Jett Meenach (Jr., Flower Mound, Texas) gave the Mids four innings of one-run relief after George Coughlin (Jr., Arvada, Colo.) left in the top of the sixth. Meenach earned a save for his effort against the Leopards.
“Luke was locked in,” said Kostacopoulos. “He was really working with great rhythm. We got him a few early runs so he didn’t have to pitch to the edges as much. I thought he really did a good job.
“Jett was really solid. This place [Lafayette] is not an easy place to accumulate outs. It’s a hitter’s ballpark and they were starting to make a little bit of a run and then Jett came in and got us out of the sixth inning. From there, he sustained himself very well for the rest of the game.”
Navy got out of the gates early in game one as the visiting team went up 1-0 in the top of the first inning on an RBI single by Born. The sophomore DH from nearby Strafford, Pa. drove in Travis Blue (Jr., Orange, Calif.) for the contest’s first run after Blue had reached on a fielding error.
Up 1-0, Gillingham put down Lafayette three-up, three-down in the bottom of the first. After Wilcox touched up the Leopards’ starting pitcher David Bednar in the top second for a solo hit, Gillingham came back out in the bottom of the frame and hung another zero on the scoreboard.
Navy broke the game open in the top of the third when it sent nine batters to the plate and came away with five runs on seven hits. Robert Currie (Sr., Atlanta, Ga.) got the action going with a leadoff double down the left field line. After a single by Blue, Born came up and shot a double into the left-center field gap to score two. The next four Mids all recorded singles off of Bednar with Trent, Leland Saile (Jr., Land O’Lakes, Fla.) and Wilcox netting RBIs.
Energized by a six-run cushion, Gillingham came out in the bottom of the third and struck out the side; all three swinging.
Over the next three innings, pitching ruled on both sides as Bednar retired Navy nine-up, nine-down and Gillingham responded with just two hits allowed.
Going into the seventh up 6-0, the Mids tacked on another run as Born tallied his fourth RBI of the game with a RBI double to plate Currie. The double was Born’s second of the day and ninth of the season.
Gillingham put down the Leopards in the bottom of the seventh to lock up the 7-0 victory. He finished with a complete game line of 7.0 innings, four hits, one walk and five strikeouts. The complete game was his fifth of the year and second of the shutout variety in 2016. For his career he’s now recorded 14 complete games and five shutouts.
For the game, Navy outhit Lafayette, 13-4. Born (3), Chinnery (2), Currie (2), and Wilcox (2) all had multiple hits of the Mids in the seven-inning contest. In total, eight of the nine starters recorded hits with all eight of those players having a base hit to their names by the third inning.
The second half of the doubleheader began in similar fashion to the first as Navy jumped on Lafayette’s starting pitching early. Before the Leopards’ starter, Mitch Leeds could notch his first out of the game, the first six Midshipmen batters had already reached. Currie, Born and Trent connected for singles, while Chinnery came through with the big hit, a two-run double off the top of the fence in right-center field. Trent’s single plated the Chinnery for the frame’s final run.
“Scoring early helps everyone,” said Kostacopoulos. “It’s much easier to scheme the game. Our guys are able to play a little freer, both offensively and on the mound.”
Up 3-0, Navy’s starter Coughlin made short work of Lafayette in both the first and second innings with a perfect span of six-up, six-down baseball.
Coughlin’s teammates spotted him three more runs in the top of the third to make it 6-0. Trent led off the inning with a double to left-center field before Deneen followed up with a triple to the right-center field gap. Nick Paglialonga (Jr., Lake Forest, Calif.) and Wilcox kept the rally going with a single and double, respectively. Logan Knowles (So., Port Orchard, Wash.) drove in Paglialonga for the inning’s third run with a sacrifice fly.
An RBI single by Deneen to plate Born in the top of the fourth quickly made it a 7-0 game.
Navy kept squaring up Lafayette pitches into the fifth as they recorded two more hits to give them 13 total hits by that point in the game.
After 12 innings of being held off the scoreboard by the Mids’ pitching staff, the Leopards finally broke through in the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run by Campbell Lipe. The host team pushed across two more runs in the top of the sixth to force Navy to call on its bullpen in replacement of Coughlin.
Coming in with no outs in the bottom of the sixth, Meenach controlled the Leopards’ offense and allowed one hit in the sixth and forced two ground outs in the seventh right back to the mound for one-three putouts.
Navy notched its final run in the top of the eighth when Born connected for his third double of the day to score Blue, who had previously been hit by a pitch.
With the score, 8-3, Lafayette got one final run on the board as John Selsor hit a solo home run over the left field wall in the bottom of the ninth inning.
In the 8-4 victory for the visiting Midshipmen, Navy outhit Lafayette, 15-8. Born (3), Chinnery (2), Deneen (2), Knowles (2), Trent (2) and Wilcox (2) all finished with multiple hits. All nine Mids in the starting lineup reached base at least once with eight collecting hits.
Coughlin earned the win with a final line of 5.0-plus innings, four hits, two walks, three runs allowed and five strikeouts. Meenach was credited with save as he went 4.0 innings with four hits, no walks and one run allowed.
Navy and Lafayette are scheduled to complete their four-game series on Monday afternoon beginning at 1 p.m.