ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The defending Patriot League champions, the Navy baseball team announced on Wednesday its 53-game 2017 schedule. Fresh off a bid into the NCAA Tournament and a regional round victory over Saint Mary’s, the Mids will kick off their season on Feb. 18 on the road at North Carolina Central. 10 days later on Feb. 28, the Mids (43-16-1 in 2016) will play the first of 30 home games in Annapolis. In total, Navy will play six home weekend series in 2017, including two against Patriot League opponents.
Under the direction of 12th-year head coach Paul Kostacopoulos, Navy begins its season on the road in Durham, N.C. for a three-game series at North Carolina Central over a two-day span on Feb. 18 and 19. 2017 marks the third straight season-opening series for the Mids in the Tar Heel State as the team started 2015 and 2016 in Greensboro at North Carolina A&T. Navy is 1-0 all-time against N.C. Central with a 9-2 win coming as part of the 2010 Eagle Baseball Classic round-robin event. The Mids and Eagles will play in the Historic Durham Athletic Park that was made famous in the movie Bull Durham.
The following weekend it will be back to North Carolina for the seventh edition of the Freedom Classic in Kinston, N.C. Beginning on Friday, Feb. 24, Navy and Air Force will go head-to-head for a three-game series with single contests on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Historic Grainger Stadium. In 2016, the Mids earned the series victory, two games to one. 2017 will be the first season since 2011 that minor league baseball will be back in Kinston, as the Texas Rangers announced the introduction of the Down East Wood Ducks as their new Carolina League farm team.
The Mids’ home slate starts with a run of eight straight games at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium beginning on Tuesday, Feb. 28 versus Georgetown. After the Mids and Hoyas face off in the mid-week contest, Navy will welcome Cornell for a three-game weekend set over Saturday and Sunday, March 3-4. Following that opening home series, UMES comes to Annapolis on Wednesday, March 8 as a precursor for a three-game fixture with Central Connecticut State, March 10-12. Over the past two seasons, Navy has gone 49-18-1 at home.
Two mid-week road games at UMBC on March 15 and Delaware State on March 16 break up a stretch that will see 17 home games over an 18-day span. A run of nine straight at Bishop Stadium picks back up on Friday, March 17 with a four-game series (1-DH-1) against New York Tech. A March 22 matchup with Delaware State leads into another four-game weekend set as Navy faces off with Princeton in the final tune-up before Patriot League conference play on March 24-26. The Mids and Tigers have met in the final non-conference weekend for Navy in eight of the last nine years.
A road tilt at Georgetown on Wednesday, March 29 is the first of five consecutive away from Annapolis for Navy.
The road trip continues that weekend, April 1-2 with the Patriot League conference opening series in Worcester, Mass. on the campus of Holy Cross. The teams split their regular season meeting in 2016, 2-2 before facing off in a thrilling conference tournament final. In the best-of-three series, the Mids won game one, 2-1 in 10 innings on a Stephen Born walk-off solo home run before dropping game two, 3-2. In the series finale, a stellar outing by the pitching duo of George Coughlin and Sam Sorenson allowed an eighth inning sacrifice fly by Leland Saile to stand as Navy’s only necessary run in the 1-0 victory.
Two non-conference home games against Wofford on April 4 and Coppin State on April 5 separate the Mids from their next Patriot League series. The matchup against Wofford is the first-ever between the two schools. Beginning on April 8, Navy welcomes Lafayette for a four-game set at home. Last year in Easton, the Mids took three-of-four against the Leopards and scored a season-high 39 combined runs over the series.
For the second-straight week, Navy will play two non-conference contests as it will host Towson on April 11 before heading out to Maryland Eastern Shore on April 12. A road series at Lehigh awaits the Mids on April 15-16. The Mids defeated the Mountains Hawks three times in the regular season with complete game shutouts by Luke Gillingham and Noah Song leading the way in game one and game three victories, respectively.
A home mid-week game versus George Mason on April 19 will serve as a lead-in for the 2017 Star Series between Army and Navy on the weekend of April 22-23. The Mids and Black Knights will face off on the grounds of West Point in a series where the victor is bestowed with a star. If the four-game set is tied, 2-2, the winner of game one earns the sport star for the season. Last year in Annapolis, Navy swept all four games from Army for the first time since 1998. All-time, the Mids lead 117-108.
The regular season gets into its final stages with non-conference games at Coppin State on April 26 and at home on May 2 against UMBC surrounding the last Patriot League weekend on April 29-30 versus Bucknell. The Mids will host the Bison in the final league series with postseason consequences likely to be abound. Last year in Lewisburg, Navy went 3-1 and was able to secure the regular season title and number one seed in the Patriot League Tournament, while Bucknell held on for fourth place. In the Patriot League Semifinals, the Mids dropped game one to the Bison, by a score of 9-3 before coming back and winning two straight to take the series.
Of note, games three and four of Navy’s series of Bucknell on April 30th will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network.
The Patriot League Semifinals are scheduled to begin the weekend of May 13-14. The conference’s top four teams qualify for the tournament, with the top two seeds hosting the lower two seeds in a best-of-three semifinal series. The two advancing teams will meet at the higher remaining seed on May 20-21 in a best-of-three championship series.