March 30, 2016
PRINCESS ANNE, Md. – The Navy baseball team used a patient approach and a complete team effort on Wednesday in its 16-4 victory over Maryland Eastern Shore. Taking on the Hawks (5-18) in Princess Anne, the Mids (19-6-1) used 21 players in their final non-conference tune-up before Patriot League play this weekend to notch 16 runs and score in six different innings.
“Today was an opportunity to get a lot of guys some playing time,” remarked head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. “We lengthened out our staff and got five different pitchers action. They all came in and stuck to our formula of throwing strikes. We rounded it off with pretty solid defense. We got our bats going pretty well too, so overall this was a good result.”
Offensively, Connor Deneen (Sr., Tustin, Calif.), Robert Currie (Sr., Atlanta, Ga.) and Stephen Born (So., Strafford, Pa.) led the way for Navy as Deneen led the team in both hits with three and RBIs with three. Currie reached in all four of his plate appearances and scored a team-high three runs, while Born connected off of UMES pitching for two doubles.
“It was good to see Connor go 3-for-5,” said Kostacopoulos. “We want to keep the competition up. We have a lot of talented guys so we’re still trying to find the right setup that clicks for us. It’s important that we have all of our options swinging well. It gives us depth and is a real positive to the success of our team.”
On the mound, five Midshipmen pitchers saw time versus the Hawks on Wednesday with Colin Brady (So., Seneca, S.C.) drawing the start. After a 4.0-inning outing with six hits and two runs (one earned) allowed and two strikeouts by Brady, Navy’s bullpen in the form of Jackson Zoch (Fr., San Juan Capistrano, Calif.), Jett Meenach (Jr., Flower Mound, Texas), J.P. Colton (Fr., Maitland, Fla.) and Andrew Sauer (Fr., Johns Creek, Ga.) shut down UMES and held the hosts to three combined hits and two runs against over the final five innings.
The game began with the Mids taking advantage of control issues by the Hawks’ starting pitcher Tyrell Ricks in the top of the first inning to the tune of five runs. Currie was the first player to score after initially reaching on a single to left field. Three straight wild pitches by Ricks helped Currie cross home plate before Travis Blue (Jr., Orange, Calif.), Sean Trent (Sr., Sorrento, Fla.) and Ben McGrath (So., Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) all reached on walks. Those three players eventually scored on a variety of passed balls, balks and errors. Deneen was the final Navy player to score as he reached via a hit by a pitch. The senior right-fielder stolen second base before advancing on an error and a passed ball.
Up 5-0, the Mids extended their lead by two runs in the top of the second as Blue and Trent drove in Logan Knowles (So., Port Orchard, Wash.) and Currie on back-to-back plate appearances; Blue a ground out and Trent a single.
After UMES got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second with a single run to make it 7-1, two innings later the host squad added another run to make the score, 7-2. Deneen made sure that the Hawks only scored one in the fourth as the right-fielder caught a fly ball off the bat of Dallas Culotta and fired in a strong one-hop throw home to cut down Tom Summers, who was tagging up from third in an attempt to score.
In the top of the fifth, the Mids’ offense started squaring up offerings from Xavier Czepiel, the Hawk’s first reliever, as Adrian Chinnery (Jr., Wilmington, Del.) and Born hit consecutive doubles before Deneen followed with a triple to right field. Deneen came in on an ensuing passed ball to make it 10-2.
The Hawks responded in the bottom of the inning with two runs to tighten the game to a 10-4 margin.
Navy continued hanging crooked numbers on the scoreboard in the top of the sixth as McGrath and Chinnery each reached on two-base errors before Born recorded his first RBI of the game with a double to left field.
Up 12-4, the Mids scored for their third straight inning as they turned back-to-back walks to Currie and Blue into a run in the form of a McGrath sacrifice fly to right field.
After Meenach and Colton hurled scoreless seventh and eighth innings, Navy notched the game’s final three runs in the top of the ninth. Leland Saile (Jr., Land O’Lakes, Fla.) scored the frame’s first run on a Nick Paglialonga (Jr., Lake Forest, Calif.) single. Two batters later, Paglialonga came in on Deneen’s third RBI of the game; a single to right field. Liam Lowery (Fr., Williamsburg, Va.) scored Navy’s 16th run when he crossed the plate on a wild pitch by Tom Summers.
Sauer finished the game on the mound for the Mids with a hitless ninth inning and two strike outs.
In Navy’s 16-4 victory, the Mids outhit the Hawks, 14-9. Deneen (3), Currie (2) and Born (2) all had multiple hits for the visiting squad. Seven of the nine players in Navy’s starting lineup contributed hits, while all nine men reached at least once. Off the bench, Andrew Lowry (Fr., El Cajon, Calif.), Saile and Paglialonga all notched one hit.
For his two innings of relief work following Brady’s four-inning start, Zoch earned the victorious decision. The win was the first of Zoch’s collegiate career. As a staff, the Mids’ five pitchers posted an 8:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio versus the Hawks.
Navy will now turn its attention to Patriot League play and its upcoming four-game home series against Holy Cross. The top two teams in the league’s preseason coaches’ poll will faceoff with doubleheaders on both Saturday and Sunday at Max Bishop Stadium. First pitch on both days is scheduled for 12 p.m.