The Naval Academy and Head Coach Paul Kostacopoulos have released their 2008 schedule. They will open in the Service Academy Spring Classic where they will face Air Force twice and Arkansas State in a single game. They will open the Patriot League portion of the schedule when they head to Lafayette on March 29th and 30th. The Midshipmen will also visit Bucknell and Lehigh (two games) in Patriot League action. They will host Holy Cross, Army, and Lehigh (two games) in Patriot League showdowns. The league has changed the playoff system for 2008 in which four teams will make the postseason. The top seed will host a best of three series against the fourth seed and the second seed will host the third seed in the best of three series. The two winners will match up in the next weekend with the winning deciding the Patriot League championship. The press release is available here and the full schedule is available here.
The Lafayette Leopards picked up the Patriot League title over the weekend when they took their first two games of the Patriot League Championship series over Army by scores of 8-3 on Saturday and 7-3 on Sunday. In Game 1, Mike Raible led the Leopards with four RBI on a homer and a triple. Lafayette starting pitcher Matt Kamine (7-3) got the victory by giving up three runs in 6.0 innings of work. In Game 2, Tom Hayes went 4-5 while Leopards starter Kevin Reese (7-1) went 8.1 strong innings as he held the Cadets to three runs on nine hits.
The Army Cadets swept a doubleheader from Holy Cross on Saturday in West Point NY. Nick Hill pitched 6.0 shutout innings while only allowing three hits and Milan Dinga pitched a perfect seventh inning to give the Cadets the 3-0 victory. In Game 2, Army scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth with a key two-out two-run triple from Chris Simmons to tie the game up. Simmons then came through in the bottom of the tenth with a single to drive home the winning run.
The Army Black Knights split a doubleheader with Cornell on Saturday. In game 1, Jim Hyland was masterful as he allowed only four hits over the seven inning game to get the 2-0 victory over Army. Hyland picked up his second victory of the season to even his record at 2-2. Nick Hill also pitched a complete game for Army but gave up two runs on five hits to get his second loss of the season. In Game 2, Cornell pitcher Blake Hamilton threw over Steven Dannaway’s head in the bottom of the tenth to give the Black Knights an emotional 3-2 victory over Cornell. Milan Dinga pitched two perfect innings while striking out four to get the win.
Everyone that follows this blog knows that I have been a huge fan of Milan Dinga’s game since I saw him pitch up at Holy Cross when he was pitching for Army last year. He came into a tight game and throw some fire to close the game out. He registered 94 MPH on the radar guns around me and really impressed me with his composure. He ended up spending the summer in the Cape Cod League playing for the Hyannis Mets where he impressed some scouts even more against the best competition in the country.
Mitch Harris is of a similar mode since he plays the Naval Academy. Harris was named the second best pro prospect in the Cal Ripken Sr. Collegiate Baseball League. I will have the chance to see Harris pitch against Holy Cross this year and I will give my impressions on this stud of a pitcher.
Doug Kroll of CSTV wrote an article about how Harris and Dinga face challenges that other college baseball players don’t have to deal with. The article is available here.
The Army Cadets have released their 2007 schedule. They have a bunch of games down in the South to start the season which is traditional for a northern school. They visit Sam Houston State, Wofford, and UNC Greensboro each for 3 games sets to start the first 3 weekend series. They also have a mid-week out of conference game in Gainesville against the Florida Gators. The rest of their season is made up of Patriot League games and regional games with Cornell, Iona, and Manhattan.
This Army team should be right at the top of the Patriot League this season with All-American candidate pitcher Nick Hill and outfielder/closer Milan Dinga who can hit over 90 MPH. I predict on October 24th, that Nick Hill will pitch the game against the Gators and will give them fits.
Milan Dinga of West Point has had a very easy summer since He did not have to do any summer training as part of his West Point education. He batted this past season .184 but was very successful out of the bullpen with a 1-0 record and a 1.35 ERA. He struck out 16 batters in 20 innings this season. The scouts believe he will be a very good pitcher and have their eyes set on him. The Cape Cod Times recently did a spotlight on him and it can be at this link.