Feb. 19, 2009
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Navy baseball team will kick off its 114th season in program history this weekend when it heads to the 20th-annual Service Academy Spring Classic at USA Stadium in Millington, Tenn. The Midshipmen will take on Air Force on Friday and Sunday at 11 a.m. ET, with a single game against Pittsburgh on Saturday at 11 a.m. ET.
Navy will then return back to Annapolis to host the first of 30 home games this year on Wednesday at 2 p.m., when Delaware State makes the short drive to Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium. Admission is free to all home Navy baseball games.
Getting the Party Started
Navy's season opener against Air Force this Friday not only kicks off the Service Academy Spring Classic, it is also one of the earliest games in the country on the NCAA allowable start date. The following are all the games taking place on Friday morning (all times Eastern):
12:01 a.m. - Central Michigan at Florida Gulf Coast
10 a.m. - Connecticut vs. Michigan State (Big East-Big Ten Challenge; Clearwater, Fla.)
11 a.m. - Navy vs. Air Force (Service Academy Spring Classic; Millington, Tenn.)
11 a.m. - Santa Clara vs. Xavier (N.C. State Tournament; Raleigh, N.C.)
11 a.m. - Akron vs. Marshall (Wake Forest Tournament; Winston-Salem, N.C.)
11 a.m. - Jarvis Christian at Alcorn State
Scouting Air Force
Air Force finished the 2008 campaign with an 18-33 overall mark and 4-20 record in Mountain West Conference action.
The Falcons were picked to finish seventh in the Mountain West Conference Preseason Poll last week.
Air Force welcomes back 20 letterwinners from last year's squad, including eight positional starters. Last spring, the Falcons hit .275 as a team and stole 84 bases. Meanwhile, the pitching staff produced an 8.34 team ERA and allowed opponents to hit .358 with 49 home runs.
Designated hitter Matt Alexander was named to the Preseason All-Mountain West Conference Team after hitting .306 with seven home runs and 45 RBIs last season. During his sophomore campaign, he set a conference record with 11 RBIs and 14 total bases in a 6-for-7 performance against Doane College.
Right-handed pitchers Alex Truesdale and Jake Petro return this season after combining for 25 of the team's 51 starts in 2008. Right-handed reliever Michael Ruvolo had a hand in half of Air Force's victories last year, as he went 5-4 with four saves and a 6.26 ERA in 25 appearances.
All-Time Against Air Force
Air Force holds a slim advantage in the all-time series against Navy, 11-10. However, the Midshipmen have won each of the last-six meetings, spanning back to the 2005 Service Academy Spring Classic.
Head coach Paul Kostacopoulos is 5-0 (1.000) during his career against Air Force. In each of his victories against the Falcons, the Midshipmen have scored at least six runs and twice plated more than 10 runs.
The two teams first met on the diamond during the inaugural Service Academy Spring Classic in 1990, with the Falcons coming away with a 9-1 victory.
Pittsburgh finished the 2008 season with a 19-34 overall record and an 8-20 mark in Big East Conference action.
The Panthers were picked to finish 11th in the Big East Conference Preseason Coaches Poll last month.
Pittsburgh welcomes back 15 of 20 letterwinners from last year's squad. As a team in 2008, the Panthers hit .291 with 6.79 runs per game. On the mound, the pitching staff registered 5.63 ERA and averaged 7.22 strikeouts per nine innings.
Danny Lopez and Joe Leonard look to lead the Pittsburgh offense in 2009. Lopez hit .319 with seven home runs, 38 RBIs and 21 stolen bases last year. Meanwhile, Leonard led the team with a .335 batting average to go along with 12 doubles, seven home runs and 37 RBIs.
Southpaw Nate Reed led the team with five wins in 13 starts last year while posting a 5.42 ERA in 89.2 innings with 70 strikeouts. Right-hander David Kaye anchored the bullpen last year, as he recorded a 2.52 ERA in 23 relief appearances and held the opposition to a .227 batting average.
All-Time Against Pittsburgh
Navy owns a 17-5 advantage in the all-time series against Pittsburgh.
This Saturday's meeting will be the first between the two teams since 1964, when the Midshipmen edged the Panthers, 4-3, in Annapolis.
Navy and Pittsburgh first met on the diamond back in 1915, with the Mids coming away with a 7-2 victory.
All-Time at the Service Academy Spring Classic
Navy enters the 20th-annual Service Academy Spring Classic with an all-time record of 30-32 (.484).
The Midshipmen have won the classic title three times in program history - 1993 (3-1), 2002 (3-1) and 2006 (3-0).
Head coach Paul Kostacopoulos has guided the Midshipmen to a 7-2 record in his first-three years at the event. He needs only two wins to tie Bob MacDonald (1994-00) for the most career Navy wins at the Service Academy Spring Classic.
All-Time in Season Openers
Navy owns an all-time record on 65-46-2 (.584) in season-opening action.
The Midshipmen have won their first game of the year in each of the last-four seasons - their longest streak since the 1976-81 squads each won their season opener.
Navy will be commencing its season on the road for the 29th time in school history and the seventh time in Millington, Tenn. In its previous-28 season openers away from Annapolis, the Mids have gone 8-20 (.286). However, the Midshipmen have won three-straight season openers on the road.
Scouting Delaware State
Delaware State closed out the 2008 season with a 16-33 overall record and an 11-7 mark in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference action. The Hornets advanced to the conference tournament, where they were defeated by Florida A&M and Norfolk State to end their year.
As a team in 2008, the Delaware State batted .288 with 49 home runs and averaged nearly seven runs per game. However, the pitching staff recorded an 8.33 ERA and allowed 117 doubles, 61 home runs and a .339 batting average against.
Jose Sanchez was named to the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List this spring after a solid 2008 campaign. He earned second-team all-conference honors with a team-best .347 batting average to go along with 16 doubles, six home runs, 30 RBIs and 43 runs scored.
Right-hander Josh Schmidt is the lone weekend starting pitcher to return to the Hornets in 2009. As a junior last spring, he went 7-5 with a 5.00 ERA in 72.0 innings with 80 strikeouts.
All-Time Against Delaware State
Navy owns an 8-2 advantage in the all-time series against Delaware State.
Head coach Paul Kostacopoulos is 3-1 in his career with Navy against the Hornets.
This Wednesday's meeting in Annapolis will be the first of two this season. The Midshipmen will head to Dover, Del., to take on the Hornets on April 28.
Last year, Navy won at Delaware State, 17-5, to give Kostacopoulos his 600th career victory as a head coach.
Navy and Delaware State first met on the diamond in 1980, with the Mids winning by a score of 9-1 in Annapolis.
February Home Openers
For the third time in four years, Navy will play its home opener in the month of February. Prior to the installation of FieldTurf at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium in fall 2005, Navy had never played a home game in February.
The Midshipmen have never lost on its home field during the month of February, sporting an all-time mark of 6-0-1 (.929).
All-Time February Baseball
The Midshipmen own a 48-68-2 (.415) all-time record in the month of February. Navy played its first game in the second calendar month against Ole Miss on Feb. 20, 1988, dropping that game by a score of 6-0.
Head coach Paul Kostacopoulos has led Navy to an impressive 19-5-1 (.780) record in February contests since taking over the reigns in 2006.
Navy in Preseason Patriot League Rankings
Navy was picked to finish second in the Patriot League Preseason Poll, behind only defending league regular season champion Army. The Midshipmen were picked ahead of Holy Cross (third), Lafayette (tied for fourth), Bucknell (tied for fourth) and Lehigh (sixth).
In the TheCollegeBaseballBlog.com Patriot League preview, Navy was picked second behind Army and in front of Bucknell (third), Lehigh (fourth), Holy Cross (fifth) and Lafayette (sixth).
In the Rivals.com Patriot League preview, Navy was tabbed third behind Army (first) and Holy Cross (second). The Midshipmen were ahead of Lafayette (fourth), Bucknell (fifth) and Lehigh (sixth).
In the Baseball America Patriot League preview, Navy was picked to finish sixth in the league. Army was selected as the league favorite, followed by Holy Cross, Bucknell, Lehigh, Lafayette and Navy.
Navy was tabbed as the preseason favorite in the Patriot League by CollegeBaseballToday.com, while Army was named the league front-runner by CollegeBaseballInsider.com.
Mids Gunning For Fourth-Straight 30-Win Season
Navy will look to post its fourth-consecutive 30-win season in 2009 after registering its school-record third-straight 30-win campaign last spring - all under the guidance of head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. Prior to his arrival, Navy had won 30-plus games in a season just three times in 110 years.
Navy is one of 63 schools in the country and one of only three Northeast Region schools (Le Moyne and Manhattan being the other two) to have won at least 30 games in each of the last-three years.
Kostacopoulos Going for Win No. 100 at Navy
Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos begins the 2009 season needing just one win for his 100th career victory at the helm of the Midshipmen. During his tenure at Navy, Kostacopoulos owns a 99-66-2 (.599) record.
With one win, Kostacopoulos would join Joe Duff (595 wins in 32 years), Max Bishop (306 wins in 24 years) and Bob MacDonald (178 wins in seven years) as the only coaches to win 100-plus games with Navy in school history.
Last year, Kostacopoulos earned his 600th career win as a head coach with Navy's 17-5 victory at Delaware State.
For his 20-year head coaching career, Kostacopoulos owns a 603-398-4 (.602) record.
Michael Speciale: Brooks Wallace Award Watch List
During the preseason, Navy outfielder Michael Speciale was named to the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List for the nation's top collegiate baseball player.
Speciale became just the second Navy player in school history to earn a spot on the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List. Recent graduate Mitch Harris was named to the elite group in both his 2007 and '08 campaigns.
Speciale is one of two Patriot League players selected to the list, as he is joined by Army's Clint Moore.
The winner of the 2009 Brooks Wallace Award will be announced in conjunction with the College Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies on Thursday, July 2, at 7 p.m., in the United Spirit Arena on the campus of Texas Tech University.
JD Melton: NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List
For the third-straight season, Navy right-hander JD Melton has been selected to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List.
Melton, Navy's career saves leader and 2009 team captain, is one of just 40 players nationally to earn a spot on the preseason list and is the lone representative from the Patriot League.
The list will be updated on midway through the season (April 16) to include national save leaders before being pared down at the end of the regular season (May 27) to include the national saves leader and four other relief standouts as finalists for the award. The NCBWA All-America Committee will then select a winner, which will be announced in early June.
JD and Mitch (Melton): Brothers and Baseball
Brothers JD and Mitch Melton are the epitome of "All-American boys". Both midshipmen are dedicated members of the Navy baseball team who came to college with the desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves. The paths they have taken to get to this point have been remarkably similar; however, neither has allowed that to stifle their individuality. The definition of what midshipmen should be, JD and Mitch are upstanding young men who display strength of character, loyalty and an exemplary work ethic, all the while maintaining their youthful enthusiasm and senses of humor.
To read the feature story in its entirety, click here.
Home Sweet Home
Navy will play 30 if its 52 games this spring on Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium.
Following this weekend's season-opening road trip to the Service Academy Spring Classic in Millington, Tenn., the Midshipmen will play 22 of their next 25 games on their home field.
Since head coach Paul Kostacopoulos took over the reigns in 2006, Navy has sported a 59-38-2 (.606) record on its home field. In each of the last-two seasons, Navy has surpassed the 20-win mark at home (22 wins in 2007, 21 wins in 2008).
Navy's 33-man roster is comprised of eight freshmen, 12 sophomore and 13 juniors (Note: Team captain JD Melton is a senior eligibility-wise after transferring to Navy following a Freshman All-America season at Wofford (S.C.) in 2006).
The Midshipmen are the only team in the Patriot League without a member of the senior class on their roster in 2009. In fact, every school in the league has at least three seniors, with Bucknell (eight), Lafayette (seven) and Army (six) leading the way.
Navy Records Watch
CAREER SLUGGING PERCENTAGE
School Record: Andy Loferski, .652 (1981-83)
11. Brian Bernth (1993-96) .4906
12. Michael Speciale (2007-pr.) .4905
CAREER HOME RUNS
School Record: Marcus Lee, 29 (1991-94)
9. Steve Mauro (1992-95) 11
Andy Frahler (1945-48) 11
11. Michael Speciale (2007-pr.) 10
School Record: JD Melton, 16 (2007-pr.)
1. JD Melton (2007-pr.) 16
2. Ryan Hefner (2003-06) 11