Navy Wins 2018 Star with Doubleheader Sweep of Army on Saturday

WEST POINT, N.Y. – Riding the high from a stellar performance on Friday night at Fenway Park, the Navy baseball team claimed the 2018 Baseball Star in emphatic fashion on Saturday at West Point with a come-from-behind, 2-1 victory in game one and a dominant 9-0 shutout in the second game. Needing just one win to claim the Star on Saturday at Johnson Stadium at Doubleday Field, the Mids (31-11, 15-6 PL) rattled off three consecutive two-out hits in their final regulation at bat to overtake the Black Knights (22-17, 12-5 PL) and secure the one-run win. The proverbial icing on the cake to Navy’s day and weekend series sweep was a 9-0 win in game two that saw Sean Kamhoot (Sr., Gainesville, Fla.) hold Army to one hit over seven innings, while the Mids’ offense cranked out six extra-base hits, including home runs by Christian Hodge (Jr., Winder, Ga.) and Jacob Williamson (So., Sims, N.C.).

The Mids’ pitching staff was lights out on Saturday as the quartet of Kamhoot, Andrew Sauer (Jr., Johns Creek, Ga.), Colin Brady (Sr., Seneca, S.C.) and Jared Leins (Fr., Raleigh, N.C.) combined to hold the Black Knights to one run on five hits over 16 innings of action. Kamhoot tallied the win in game two after no-hitting Army for 5.2 innings before settling for a one-hitter over his seven-inning outing. Sauer, was the Mids’ starter in game one and allowed just one run on two hits over six innings on the mound. Both Brady and Leins did the job for Navy out of the bullpen with three innings of shutout relief. Leins earned the save in game one.

“Game one was such a good win for us,” remarked head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. “Andrew Sauer pitched great and helped us hang in there. We were down to our last out and then Mike [Coritz] comes up with a single and then Logan with a double and then Zach [Biggers] with a triple to give us the lead. Jared closed it out for the win. Up to that seventh inning we didn’t have a lot going offensively. That was a great character win for the entire team.Over the course of Saturday’s doubleheader, Navy’s offense hit a cumulative .310 with 22 hits over 71 at bats. Hodge, Williamson and Logan Knowles (Sr., Port Orchard, Wash.) highlighted the Mids’ individual efforts as Hodge went 5-for-8 with a home run and two RBIs, while Williamson went 3-for-8 with two doubles and a home run and a pair of RBIs. Knowles tallied three hits with a team-high three runs scored.

“In the second game, Sean did a really good job of establishing three pitchers early and kept them off-balance all game. Throughout the lineup I felt that we had good at bats. We had 15 hits and kept the pressure on them all game. Overall it was a really good day for us!”

Game One: Navy 2 – Army 1

The initial action on Saturday saw each team breaking through early with pressure, but with no runs to show for. Army looked to strike first in the first inning with a pair of two-out hit by pitches, but Sauer negated the threat with a harmless fly out to centerfield. Navy’s first scoring opportunity occurred in the top of the second as Hodge and Evan Lowery (So., Williamsburg, Va.) tagged Army starter Daniel Burggraaf for consecutive singles to lead off the frame. Three straight putouts by the Black Knights’ defense kept the game scoreless.

After a three-up, three-down bottom of the second inning, the contest moved onto the third where both teams put runners on base. A leadoff walk by Michael Coritz (So., Clifton, Va.) gave Navy its baserunner, while a pair of pitches hit Black Knight batters.

Navy continued finding some success versus Burggraaf in the fourth as Williamson connected for a two-out double to centerfield. The Black Knights’ right-hander held the game at 0-0 with a foul out to the next batter.

Army was the first team to break into scoring column as the hosts opened the bottom of the fourth inning with back-to-back singles. A passed ball and wild pitch eventually allowed the Black Knights to plate their first run in 13 innings versus Navy over the first game and a half of the series.

The contest advanced at a one-run margin through the fifth and sixth innings. The Mids had single runners on base in both frames, but were unable to tie that second or third hit together and score a run.

Down 1-0, Sauer downed Army in order in both of the innings.

In the final regulation inning, the seventh, the Mids’ hope for a comeback looked bleak as the first two batters were retired with a strikeout and fly out. Down to their final at bat, Coritz sparked the rally with single to center field. Knowles quickly knotted the game at 1-1 when he slashed a double down the right field line past the outstretched arms of the Black Knights’ first baseman. The scoring continued as the next batter, Zach Biggers (So., Walhalla, S.C.) launched a deep fly ball to the center field warning track for a triple.

Now up 2-1, Navy called on its freshman closer Leins. The right-hander retired the first two batters he faced before Jax Luzinski reached on a fielding error. With the game-tying run on first base, Leins left nothing up for debate as he struck out Jacob Hurtubise looking to close out the victory and earn Navy the 2018 Star.

In the game, Navy outhit Army, 7-2. Hodge was the only player from either side to notch multiple hits as he tallied two singles.

Sauer earned the victory with a final line of 6.0 innings, two hits, one run, no walks and five strikeouts. Leins earned his fifth save of the season with a hitless seventh inning.

Game Two: Navy 9 – Army 0

While the first game on Saturday saw both team struggle to get much going offensively, Navy found success early and often versus Army’s starting pitcher Matt Ball. After collecting three hits over the first two innings, but not scoring a run, the Mids teed off on Ball in the top of the third to the tune of four runs on four hits and an error. Knowles led off the high-scoring stanza with single to right field. Two batters later, the Mids’ captain came into score after a ground ball to first base off the bat of Stephen Born (Sr., Strafford, Pa.) was misplayed into a three-base fielding error. Hodge plated Born for the Navy’s second run of the inning with a single through the right side of the infield. Williamson put an exclamation point on the inning with a two-run, two-out home run out over the left field wall.

With his offense clicking, Kamhoot quietly went about his business with great efficiency. The senior right-hander retired Army, nine-up, nine-down over the first three innings.

In the top of the fourth, Navy extended its lead out to 5-0 as the senior duo of Knowles and Born manufactured a run on a pair of singles.

The Black Knights got their first runner on base in the bottom of the fourth as Drake Titus drew a walk versus Kamhoot, but the Mids’ defense up the middle quickly eliminated Titus with a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play.

The 5-0 score held over through the fifth and sixth innings. Of note in the bottom of the sixth, Army touched up Kamhoot for his first allowed hit of the game with a Tim Simoes single with two outs.

In the seventh inning, Hodge continued his dominance of Black Knight pitching as he walloped a Carter Van Gytenbeek offering well beyond the left field wall for his third home run in as many games.

Kamhoot left the game up 6-0 after hurling another hitless, scoreless inning in the seventh. He finished his outing with a line of 7.0 innings, one hit, two walks and five strikeouts.

Navy added two additional runs in the top of the ninth as Alex Smith (So., Stafford, Va.) doubled in Evan Lowery with two outs on the scoreboard before Liam Lowery (Jr., Williamsburg, Va.) scrambled home on a wild pitch to the backstop.

Brady finished off the shutout for the Mids with two strong innings on the mound over the eighth and ninth frames. The senior sidearmer retired the first five Black Knights that he faced before the hosts rattled off two late two-out singles in the bottom of the ninth.

In the 8-0 win, Navy outhit Army, 15-3. Hodge and Liam Lowery led the Mids with three hits each. Knowles, Born, Williamson and Smith all tallied two hits against Black Knight pitching.

In the Mids’ three game series sweep of the Black Knights, their pitching staff hurled 25.0 innings of eight-hit, one-run ball. Five Navy pitchers combined to hold Army to a .096 batting average with 24 strikeouts.

“Wow! Our pitching this weekend gave up a total of eight hits and one run,” exclaimed Kostacopoulos. “They dominated from the sense that they were able to really pitch to people. It wasn’t anything different from a stuff standpoint, but they were really able to dominate in getting at least two and sometimes three pitches going. We stayed away from situations where we were walking or pitching from behind in the count. We did a good job of keeping their potent running game from really getting going. The pitching staff had it all going this weekend.”

Offensive, Navy hit .312 with 14 runs scored and 14 extra-base hits. Hodge had eight hits over his 12 at bats for a .667 batting average. The junior first baseman connected for three home runs and drove in six runs.

“Christian was outstanding this weekend,” said Kostacopoulos. “He had four RBIs last night and came back today with even more big hits. It was good to see some other guys starting finding success today, as well. Overall, it was great weekend.”

With the series sweep, Navy moved into first place in the Patriot League on the basis of winning percentage. Through 21 league contests, the Mids are 15-6, while the Black Knights have played 17 league games and are 12-5.

“Going 3-0 this weekend is big,” said Kostacopoulos. “It puts us back in the hunt for the potential number one seed. We came into this weekend on the outside looking in behind Army, but we’re now competing for first place.”

With baseball’s Star victory, as well as an earlier Star match win by the Mids’ men’s tennis team on Saturday, the 2017-18 Star Series presented by USAA goes to Navy by a final tally of 13-9-2. After Army held an 8-3-2 advantage through 13 competitions, Navy won 10 of the final 11 matchups, including the last seven athletic showdowns with its rival service academy.

The Navy baseball team will be back in action on Tuesday with a non-conference road matchup at UMBC. First pitch between the Mids and Retrievers is set for 6 p.m.

Source: NAVYSPORTS.COM article from April 21, 2018