Navy Sweeps Sunday Doubleheader at Bucknell
LEWISBURG, Pa. – The Navy baseball team concluded its first Patriot League series of the year with a doubleheader sweep of Bucknell on Sunday at Depew Field. After splitting a twinbill on Saturday, the Mids (17-5, 3-1 PL) came out and showcased strong efforts from all three facets of its team as pitching and timely hitting led to a 5-1 win over the Bison (4-14, 1-3 PL) in game one before the Mids powered eight doubles in game two on their way to a 12-6 victory.
The upperclass trio of Liam Lowery (Jr., Williamsburg, Va.), Stephen Born (Sr., Strafford, Pa.) and Logan Knowles (Sr., Port Orchard, Wash.) led Navy’s offense effort as each play recorded four hits over the course of the doubleheader. Lowery’s four hits were all doubles and came in game two. That output tied Todd Butler (4/11/92) for the school record for most doubles in a game. Born went 4-for-8 with three RBIs over two games, while Knowles finished 4-for-9 with a team-high four RBIs.
On the mound, junior Andrew Sauer (Johns Creek, Ga.) held Bucknell to five hits and one run over his 5.0+ innings in the first game. Jared Leins (Fr., Raleigh, N.C.) tallied his second save in as many days with 2.0 innings of hitless and scoreless relief of Sauer. The back end of the Mids’ bullpen in game two was strong in the form of Colin Brady (Sr., Seneca, S.C.) and Sante Grossi (Fr., Riverside, Calif.). The duo combined for five innings of three-hit, one-run relief.
“Pitching and timely hit was the story for us in game one,” remarked head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. “Andrew pitched really well for us in his start and Jared did it again in relief. Logan had a big hit in the seventh that gave us key insurance.
“Liam had a great second game! Four doubles is quite the accomplishment. Logan and Stephen were strong again. Overall, our left-handed hitters did a good job of keeping the line moving and coming through with clutch hits in the nightcap.
“Our pitchers in the second game faced a tough strike zone. They didn’t let it get to them and competed throughout. They gave our offense a chance to build up a lead. Colin and Sante did a good job over the second half of the game to close out the win.”
Game One: Navy 5 – Bucknell 1
The action on Sunday began with a strong Navy feel to it as the Mids jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. After Knowles and Born reached base safely to start the inning, Jacob Williamson (So., Sims, N.C.) plated Navy’s first run on a sacrifice fly to right field. The next batter, Christian Hodge (Jr., Winder, Ga.) drove in the team’s second run with a ground ball to third base.
Up 2-0, Sauer made short work of the Bison as he put them down in order on 13 pitches, including a strikeout.
After a rocky beginning by Bucknell’s starting pitcher Jack Grabek, the left-hander settled in and retired nine of the next 10 Navy batters over the second, third and fourth innings.
Sauer equaled his counterpart in posting zeroes on the scoreboard in the second and third innings.
In the bottom of the fourth, the host Bison broke through with its first run of the game as a leadoff walk and double provided the damage.
Bucknell challenged Sauer and his Navy teammates again in the fifth with a leadoff single by Evan Klugerman and stolen base. After Klugerman advanced to third with one out, Sauer got out of the jam with a strike out looking of Dom Toso and a fly out to center by Luke Hartman.
With the score now 2-1 in favor of the Mids, Navy started gaining slight traction versus Grabek in the fifth and sixth innings. Born tallied the team’s first hit since the first inning with a grounder through the right side of the infield in the fifth, while Matthew Wilcox (Jr. Los Gatos, Calif.) drew a walk in the sixth.
Holding a one-run lead in the bottom of the sixth, Leins was ushered in from the bullpen with a runner on first and no outs. One day after getting a five-out save on Saturday, Leins was up to the task on Sunday and turned in a six-out save. His outing on Sunday started with a ground out and back-to-back strike outs in the sixth.
The Mids added three insurance runs in the top of the seventh. Alex Smith (So., Stafford, Va.) started the one-out rally with a single to center field. After a Michael Coritz (So., Clifton, Va.) walk, Knowles drove in both of his teammates with a line drive triple into the right field corner. Two batters later, Knowles came into score on a Williamson single up the middle.
Leins closed out the Bison in the seventh with two ground outs and a fly out.
For the game, Navy outhit Bucknell, 6-5. Born led the Mids with two base hits in the seven-inning contest.
For his 5.0-plus inning start, Sauer improved his record to 2-1 in 2018. The junior right-hander completed his line with five hits, one run, two walks and four strikeouts over 90 pitches. Leins tallied his third save of the season with a line of 2.0 innings, no hits, no runs, two walks and two strikeouts.
Game Two: Navy 12 – Bucknell 6
After pitching played a leading role in the first game on Sunday, the second contest was headlined by offensive fireworks throughout the majority of its nine innings. The Mids scored in five of their at bats and tallied multiple scores four times.
Following a scoreless first inning, Lowery got the Mids’ bats going in the top of the second inning with a double down the right field line. Three batters later, Coritz came through with a clutch two-out double to plate Lowery and give Navy an early 1-0 lead.
The one-run advantage was short-lived as Bucknell responded immediately with a single run in the bottom of the second.
The hosts scored for a second straight inning in the third with another single run.
Trailing 2-1 after three innings, Lowery led off the top of the fourth with another double. After Aaron Ahn (Fr., Marlboro, N.J.) drew a walk and Coritz was hit by a pitch, Knowles started unloading the bases with a fielder’s choice ground out. The next batter, Born drove in Navy’s second run of the frame with a single to right field. The biggest hit of the inning came from Evan Lowery (So., Williamsburg, Va.) when the starting leftfielder stroked a two-RBI single.
The back-and-forth action continued as Bucknell had a two-run rebuttal in the bottom of the fourth to make it 5-4 in favor of Navy.
The fifth inning saw the teams combine for four more runs with the Mids plating three and the Bison three. In his third straight at bat, Liam Lowery led off the inning with a double to right field. With two outs, Knowles came through with an RBI double to left-center field. A two-base throwing error by Bucknell’s third baseman helped Navy score its final two runs of the frame.
Down 8-5, the Bison scored their final run of the game in the bottom of the sixth.
Beginning in the seventh inning, Navy outscored Bucknell 4-0 with two runs in each of the seventh and eighth innings. Born knocked in both of the Mids’ runs in the seventh with a double, while Liam Lowery doubled in a run in the eighth. The team’s 12th and final run came via a balk call that allowed Lowery to come home freely.
Grossi was dominant for the Mids out of the bullpen as he retired nine of the 11 batters he faced over the final three innings. Only one Bison baserunner reached second base versus the freshman right-hander.
In the 12-6 victory, Navy outhit Bucknell, 13-11. Liam Lowery (4), Knowles (3) and Born (2) all recorded multiple hits for the Mids. The team finished with eight doubles. That mark is tied for third-most in a single game in program history. Only six prior Navy teams have ever reached that milestone.
Tommy Goodridge (Fr., San Diego, Calif.) started for the Mids and recorded a no-decision after finishing with a line of 3.2 innings, eight hits, four runs (three earned), three walks and one strikeout. As the Mids’ third pitcher in game two, Brady was credited with the victory. The senior submariner went 2.0 innings with two hits, one run and one strikeout. Grossi earned his third save of 2018 with a line of 3.0 innings, one hit, no runs, one walk and two strikeouts.
“Patriot League series are always going to be competitive,” remarked Kostacopoulos “A few plays or pitches here or there can change the complex of a game. Coming away with three wins is a nice start to our league schedule. Road wins are always hard to come by.
“This weekend taught us a lot about competing and staying within ourselves. We lost game one, but kept it together and got a strong effort from Sean Kamhoot to earn a split yesterday. Coming back today, we played better and got results from all facets of our team. Four-game series are tough and the way we played in the last three games was great to see.”
Navy will be back in action on Wednesday afternoon with a non-conference bout at Georgetown in Bethesda, Md. The Mids and Hoyas are set for a 4 p.m. first pitch at Shirley Povich Field.