March 13, 2003
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Shortstop Brad Hager belted a solo home run in the top of the eighth to
break a 7-7 tie and give the Navy baseball team an 8-7 comeback win over Eastern Illinois and
its first win of the season Wednesday at Harmon Field. Navy continued the offensive onslaught in
the second of the doubleheader, as the Mids pounded out a season-high 14 hits en route to a 15-1
victory over the Panthers.
"It was a big relief (to hit the game-winning homer) because I was frustrated from not
hitting well lately, so it takes some of the pressure off," Hager said. "I hit it pretty good
but wasn't sure if it would get out. I just wanted to put a good swing on it and get on base."
Navy (2-7) came out swinging in the top of the first inning, using a couple of
extra-base hits to take build an early two-run lead against the Panthers. With one out, Dean
Farmer doubled down the left field line off EIU starting pitcher Andy Kuntz and scored when Matt
Foster ripped his first triple of the season down the right field line. Foster came home from
third on Brad Hager's ground out to short.
The Panthers came back in the bottom of the third and took the lead with four runs off
Navy starting hurler Matt Cooney.
In the top of the fourth, Navy trimmed the EIU lead to 4-3 on freshman D.J. Faldowski's
ground out to short that scored Foster, who led off the inning with a base hit.
Navy kept battling in the fifth and tied the game at 4-4. Chris Pandy led off with a
single to left, stole second base, advanced to third on a ground out to short and eventually
scored the game-tying run on Pete Curnow's ground out to short.
The Mids finally reclaimed the lead in the sixth on freshman Jared Munde's one-out,
sacrifice fly to center, scoring Brad Hager who tagged up at third.
However, Navy's 5-4 lead didn't last long, as EIU first baseman Nolan Cork opened the
bottom of the sixth with a solo homer to left center off Navy relief pitcher Ryan Naquin.
In a game that featured four ties and three lead changes, Navy regained the lead in the
top of the seventh with a pair of runs, but the Panthers wouldn't go quietly, tying the game at
7-7 in the bottom of the inning on a ground out and sacrifice fly.
Hager's round-tripper was his second of the season and his third hit of the game,
helping to snap an 0-for-13 slump coming into the game. The senior from Delray Beach, Fla.,
batted 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Foster also added three hits to go along with
three RBIs and two runs scored. Pandy tallied the first two-hit game of his career and scored a
Relief pitcher Steve Goocey improved to 1-0 with the win, while EIU reliever Mike Budde
dropped to 0-1.
The Navy offense picked up where it left off in the first game, striking for six runs on
four hits in the bottom of the first inning of the second game.
Rusty Hearn's double to left center off EIU relief pitcher Adam Chapple plated Hager
in the bottom of the second. Hearn later scored on Ryan McGinn's ground out to third for an 8-0
EIU (3-7) got on the board in the top of the third with a run, but Navy answered one of
its own in the bottom of the stanza, five more in the fourth and one in the sixth to open up a
Navy starting pitcher Ryan Hefner was outstanding on the mound, tossing a complete-game,
eight-hitter in his first-career start. Hefner allowed just one run and struck out six without
walking a batter to record his first win.
Four Navy players registered three hits in the game led by Hager, who went 3-for-4 with
four RBIs and three runs scored. Hearn batted 3-for-4 with three runs scored, while Candeto had
three hits and an RBI. Catcher Jonathan-Matthew Johnston went 3-for-4 with three runs scored in
his first-career start for the Mids.
"I thought we battled really hard in the
first game that went back and forth," Navy head
coach Steve Whitmyer said. "We had some guys step up big for us. The second game was a
combination of a lot of guys having good days at the plate. Hefner threw an outstanding game,
coming right at their hitters. It was just a great day all around for us. Every single position
player got in the games and got some time today which is great experience for them."
Navy continues play in Jacksonville Thursday when the Mids take on the Creighton Blue
Jays at 1 p.m. Foster (0-1, 3.60 ERA) will take the mound in his second start of the season for
Navy Baseball's Spring Break Trip
(All games played at UNF's Harmon Stadium)
Thurs. - vs. Creighton (1 p.m.)
Fri. - vs. No. 17 Notre Dame (4 p.m.)