The Navy Midshipmen entered the second game of a Saturday doubleheader against Holy Cross with a 17-24-1 overall record and a 7-10 mark in Patriot League play after dropping Game 1 13-8. Holy Cross on the other hand enters with a 19-22 overall mark while being 9-6 in Patriot League play. The first game of the day saw Holy Cross pick up a 13-8 victory.
The Midshipmen sent Zach Sipe to the mound as he had a 2-4 record with a 6.46 ERA in nine starts. Holy Cross countered with Nate Koneski who was sporting a 2-2 record with a 8.03 ERA in 13 appearances including five starts.
After a scoreless top of the first inning, Holy Cross was able to get a lead off walk to Brendan McCrea and a hit by pitch to Matt Perry to put runners on first and second. Jake Gorman followed with a single to center field off the end of the bat to drive home McCrea from second base to give Holy Cross the 1-0 lead. Eric Oxford then proceeded to ground back to pitcher Zach Sipe who spun around and threw down to second base to get Ryan Perry out. Shortstop Mike Guandagnini tried to complete the double play but the throw was in the dirt allowing Jake Gorman to score and have Eric Oxford reach base. Tim Hughes then followed with his second home run of the season over the right field fence to put Holy Cross up 4-0.
Navy came right back in the top of the second inning when Steven Soares hit a leadoff single to right field. Mike Hoosier then pop out which was followed by a towering home run to center field by sophomore catcher Jeff Bland. The home run was his third on the season and the RBI’s were his 12th and 13th of the season. Steve Tkowski led off the bottom of the second inning with a home run to deep center field to put the Crusaders up 5-2 after two innings.
The score would remain 5-2 until the bottom of the fourth inning when Jake Laurendeau hit a two out triple over right fielder Mike Hoosier‘s head to bring home John Sills from second base and give the Crusaders a 6-2 lead.
Navy would load the bases in the top of the sixth inning with two hits and a walk. Matt Guandagnini with two outs would hit a ground ball to Eric Oxford at first base. Oxford made a diving stop and on the toss to the pitcher Nate Koneski it was high allowing a run to score and make it 6-3. The play was close at first base prompting Holy Cross head coach Greg DiCenzo to question the call. The next batter for the Midshipmen was Matt Curley who is from Boston MA and a graduate of Boston College High School. He would make his return to the Boston area memorable with a grand slam over the left center field fence which gave the lead to Navy at 7-6. The homer was only his second of his career both coming this season.
Tim Hughes led off the bottom of the sixth by reaching on a walk then moved over to third base on a Billy Cupelo single to right field. Cupelo took second base as Mike Hoosier fumbled the baseball to put runners on second and third with no outs. John Sills then would hit a sacrifice fly to center field which allowed Hughes to score and move Cupelo over to third base. Steve Tkowski would follow with a single up the middle to score Cupelo and put the Crusaders up 8-7. Jack Laurendeau would follow with another single to put runners on first and second with one out and Brendan McCrea at the plate. McCrea would hit a two run double to the right center field gap which was again bobbled by Mike Hoosier allowing McCrea to advance to third base.
Matt Sweisthal would lead off the top of the seventh inning by getting a five pitch walk. Steven Soares would get hit with a 1-1 pitch to put runners on first and second. Mike Hoosier followed with a single to right field bringing around Sweisthal to make it a Holy Cross lead of 10-8. Jeff Bland would load the bases when he was hit by a pitch from Tommy Arrigg. Jonathan Wright would get a four pitch walk from reliever Ryan George to bring Navy within 1 run. Jonathan Berkowitz would hit into a double play but the tying run would come in from third base to even the score at 10.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Holy Cross would get the lead back on a Billy Cupelo solo home run over the left field fence to give the Crusaders the 11-10 lead.
Matthew Curley would lead off the inning with a single and was followed by a Kendall Bolt walk. Matt Sweisthal would strikeout for the first out of the inning after failing to get down a bunt. Steven Soares would walk to load up the bases for Mike Hoosier. The third pitch that new pitcher Bobby Holmes threw reached the backstop allowing Matthew Curley to score make it 11-11. Mike Hoosier would proceed to walk to reload the bases. Jeff Bland would follow with another walk to give the Midshipmen the 12-11 lead and load the bases again. Holy Cross head coach Greg DiCenzo would lift Holmes after two batters which both walked in favor of Matt Croglio who was able to get out of the jam without allowing anymore runs.
Steve Tkowski would lead off the bottom of the eighth inning with a single to center field. He would be lifted for pinch runner Rob Dornfried who was moved to second on a Jake Laurendeau sacrifice bunt. He would move over to third base on a Brendan McCrea fly out to right field with two outs. He would be stranded at third base as Matt Perry flew out to left field for the final out of the inning.
Navy’s offense would stay quiet in the top of the ninth setting up a dramatic finish in the bottom of the inning. Jake Gorman led the inning off by popping up to third base but Navy third baseman Kendall Bolt misplayed the ball by letting it go off the edge of his glove for Gorman to reach base. Eric Oxford then laid down a perfect bunt between the pitcher and first baseman to put runners on first and second with no outs. The next batter in Tim Hughes followed with a bunt back to Navy pitcher Luke Roberts who twirled around to get Gorman out at third base. Billy Cupelo hit a long fly ball to right field but it was caught by Mike Hoosier allowing Chris Sintetos who pinch ran for Eric Oxford to move up to third base. John Sills came up with the tying run on third base and the winning run on first but was not able to bring any of the runners home as he hit a groundball to shortstop who tossed it to second base for the final out.
The biggest story of the game for Navy was reliever Luke Roberts who pitched the final 3.2 innings where he allowed only one run on three hits. Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos said “Luke saved the game for us; if we didn’t have him this would have been a different outcome.”
The other key story from the day was Matthew Curley who had a key grand slam in the sixth inning in his return to his home state. Curley is a graduate of Boston College High School and a native of Boston MA.
Special thanks to Navy Baseball SID Jonathan Maggart and Holy Cross SID Michelle Bradley for their hospitality.