April 4, 2009
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Navy southpaw starter Sam Long (So./Newnan, Ga.) delivered a complete-game no-hitter in the opener to help the Midshipmen to a baseball doubleheader sweep at Lehigh on a windy Saturday afternoon. The Mids won the first game, 3-1, before taking the nightcap, 4-3.
Navy improved to 11-15-1 overall and 5-1 in the Patriot League despite temperatures in the upper 40s with sustained winds greater than 30 miles per hour and gusts occasionally above 50 miles per hour. Lehigh dropped to 6-23-1 on the year and 0-4 in league action.
"Today, we came in with a solid mindset and did a good job in the elements," stated Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "We didn't make any errors, we had no misplays and actually made some very nice plays in the outfield. These were some difficult conditions to play in."
In the seven-inning opener, Long threw 110 pitches - 65 of which were strikes - to keep the Mountain Hawks off the hit column. Despite walking five and striking out four, the Navy southpaw made the key pitches and trusted his defense behind him to make all the plays.
"Sam battled with the strike zone, but he never gave in," said Kostacopoulos. "That was something that we wanted to see out of him. In addition, he went the distance, which was another thing that we had not gotten from him prior to today."
"The defense behind me was incredible all game," Long reflected. "Steven (Soares) was key for me behind the plate, the entire infield helped out with all the ground balls and the outfielders made the plays despite the windy conditions."
Long's no-hitter was the eighth recorded in program history and the seventh complete-game performance. It was the first no-hitter since Mitch Harris recorded the feat against Coppin State on May 10, 2006. Long's outing was the third no-hitter recorded against a Patriot League foe, as Matt Cooney and Ryan Hefner teamed up to no-hit Lehigh on April 28, 2003, and Scott Kozink fired a complete-game no-hitter against Lehigh on April 12, 1999.
"A no-hitter certainly holds a special place in baseball," stated Kostacopoulos. "In addition to the accomplishment of complete-game no-hitter, there were a lot of other positives that came from his performance today."
"It's certainly an honor to be mentioned in the group of guys who have thrown a no-hitter," said Long. "The key is that I see this as a building block to keep getting better. This is something I can build and grow upon. Down the road when I look back, I'm sure that I will remember this game."
The two teams were held scoreless over the first-four frames before Navy took advantage of three errors by Lehigh starting pitcher Andrew Berger to take a 3-0 lead in the fifth. Matthew Curley (Jr./Boston, Mass.) led off with a bunt that Berger could not field cleanly before Mike Guadagnini (So./Virginia Beach, Va.) doubled down the left-field line to move Curley to third. Jonathan Wright (So./Arden, N.C.) hit a ball back to Berger that he could not field, then threw the ball over the first baseman's head to bring home both Curley and Guadagnini. Wright advanced to second on that play and would score on Kendall Bolt's (Jr./Stockton, Calif.) single up the middle.
Lehigh answered with a run in the bottom half of the frame without the services of a base knock. The Mountain Hawks drew back-to-back walks to lead off the frame, followed by a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up before a groundout scored the lead man and advanced the tail runner to third base. Long's 1-1 offering with two outs sailed and went off the glove of Soares, but the Navy catcher got to the ball and threw to Long covering at home, who sent the runner back to third before Bolt received the throw and ran down the runner to end the inning.
Bolt led Navy's nine-hit attack in game one with a 3-for-4 showing at the plate with a double and a RBI. Eddie Diaz (So./North Myrtle Beach, S.C.) joined Bolt in the multi-hit department, as he went 2-for-3.
In the nightcap, Navy chased Lehigh starter Mike Lebo after four runs through the first-four innings to take a 4-0 lead. Steven Soares (Jr./Coral Springs, Fla.) led off the second with an opposite field home run and Jonathan Berkowitz (Jr./Parkland, Fla.) followed with a double, prior to scoring on a squeeze bunt from Nick Driscoll (So./Riverview, Fla.). One inning later, Berkowitz delivered a RBI-single that scored Michael Speciale (Jr./Pearland, Texas), who reached on a hit by pitch. In the fourth, Guadagnini produced a one-out bunt single and would score on a Bolt fielder's choice.
Navy starter Wes Olson (So./Indianapolis, Ind.) battled through five innings of scoreless baseball with seven hits and three walks allowed with three strikeouts. He was able to strand eight Lehigh runners on base during his time on the mound to improve his record to 2-3.
The host Mountain Hawks put three runs on the board in the seventh before Navy southpaw reliever Chris Murray (Jr./Navarre, Fla.) came on with a runner on and nobody out. Murray got a strikeout and a double play to end the threat and preserve the one-run cushion. The Navy junior yielded just two hits and no runs over 3.0 innings with no walks and five strikeouts to record his second save of the year.
"Chris did a great job and got the big double play ball," stated Kostacopoulos. "He was as sharp as anybody today. He had a tough situation to come into and got the key outs. This is what we have come to expect out of him."
Guadagnini went 2-for-3 with a double and a pair of walks, while Berkowitz finished game two 2-for-5 at the dish with a RBI and a run scored. The Midshipmen were out-hit, 13-7, but drew six walks and was hit by a pitch twice. Meanwhile, Navy's defense turned three double plays and forced Lehigh to leave 10 runners on base.
"The best thing about today's offensive effort was that we put on a number of team at bats," said Kostacopoulos. "We were able to sacrifice, move runners, get guys in scoring position and put ourselves in opportunities to score runs. Even though the result wasn't completely there today, the effort was present and that will lead to us scoring even more runs in the future."
Navy will conclude its four-game series against Lehigh tomorrow with another 12 noon doubleheader. Live stats will be available via GameTracker on www.NavySports.com(.)
- Navy (5-1) moved into sole possession of second place in the Patriot League standings with Saturday's sweep ... around the league on Saturday, Holy Cross (4-0) swept Army (1-5) in West Point, 11-2 and 10-4, while Lafayette (3-3) swept Bucknell (3-3) in Lewisburg, 4-3 and 13-4.
- The Midshipmen improved to 56-29 all-time against Lehigh ... Navy has won nine of the last-10 games between the two teams, dating back to the 2007 season.
- Navy recorded its second Patriot League doubleheader sweep of the 2009 season on Saturday ... in fact, the Mids have swept four of their last-seven Patriot League doubleheaders, spanning back to a season ago.
- The wind was blowing in from left field at a sustained speed of 31 miles per hour during the first game ... in game two, the sustained winds increased to 34 miles per hour, this time shifting in from left-centerfield ... during both contests, wind gusts were over 50 miles per hour.
- Navy's defense did not commit an error in both games on Saturday, while turning four double plays and making several stellar plays despite the windy elements ... the Midshipmen have played error-free baseball in each of the last-four games and nine times this season ... Navy owns a .970 fielding percentage on the year and a .987 mark in Patriot League contests.
- Starters Sam Long and Wes Olson combined to hold Lehigh to just one run over 12.0 innings of work on Saturday ... Navy's weekend starting rotation of two sophomores and two freshmen have combined for a 2.08 ERA over 39.0 innings in Patriot League contests.
- Game two reliever Chris Murray recorded his fifth career save to move into a tie for fifth place on Navy's career saves list ... he joins Brad Deafenbaugh (1999-01), Scott Wilson (1991-94), Craig Gibson (1980-83) and Scott Thomas (1974-77) ... Murray's five strikeouts in three innings of relief also matched his career high ... he fanned five batters in his relief outing against Dartmouth on March 1, 2008.
- Mike Guadagnini continues to swing a hot bat for the Mids at the top of the lineup ... on Saturday, he went 3-for-7 with two walks and a run scored ... over the last-13 games, he is batting .490 (25-for-51) with 10 multi-hit performances.