Baseball: Army 5 Navy 3

EASTON, Pa. - The Navy baseball team had a pair of late-inning rallies come up just short as the Midshipmen fell to Army, 5-3, in the elimination game of the 2007 Patriot League Tournament at Lafayette's Class of 1978 Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The third-seeded Midshipmen finished the year with a 35-20 mark, while the second-seeded Black Knights improved to 25-21-1 and moved on to the best-of-three championship series against host Lafayette.

"We had some opportunities with our 11 base hits, but we never got that big extra-base hit with guys on," stated Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "Striking out 14 times was a killer and I give a lot of credit to (Army starter) Nick Hill. That has been our nemesis all year, not putting the ball into play. That is something we definitely have to work on heading into next season."

The Black Knights carried a 5-1 lead into the eighth before the Mids made things interesting. Renaldo Hollins (Jr./Virginia Beach, Va.) led off with a single and an infield single by Michael Garcia (Sr./Kailua, Hawai'i). After a strikeout, Hamilton roped a single to the gap in left center to score Hollins and advance Garcia to third. With the tying run at the plate in the form of Mitch Harris (Jr./Mt. Holly, N.C.), Hill induced an inning-ending double play to avoid further damage.

One inning later, Kendall Bolt (Fr./Stockton, Calif.) delivered a one-out single and would move to second on a wild pitch. After a strikeout, Mike Hoosier (Fr./Pomona, N.Y.) roped a single to left to put runners on the corners and send Hollins to the plate as the tying run. Army lifted starter Nick Hill for its closer Milan Dinga, who was greeted with a hard-hit single to left that plated Bolt and moved pinch-runner Dominic Lopez (Sr./Quincy, Mich.) to second. With Garcia at the plate representing the go-ahead run, Dinga recorded a strikeout to end the ballgame.

Harris was tagged for the loss despite not giving up an earned run for his second-consecutive start. The right-hander allowed six hits and four runs, all unearned, with two walks and five strikeouts over six innings of work. Harris finished his junior campaign with an 8-5 record. He did not allow an earned run in 11.0 innings against the Black Knights this year and has a 0.53 career ERA in 17.0 innings versus Army.

Hill yielded 10 hits and two runs over 8.2 innings with no walks and a career-best 13 strikeouts. He improved his record to 7-3 on the campaign.

Navy manufactured the first run of the ballgame in the fourth inning. Thomas Hamilton (Jr./Houston, Texas) was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and Harris reached on a fielder's choice putout at second base. Harris advanced to second on a passed ball and moved third on a wild pitch before Bolt.) laced a single off the pitcher's glove to plate Harris and give the Mids a 1-0 advantage.

The lead would not last long, as Army plated four unearned runs off Harris in the bottom half of the fourth. After a leadoff walk, the Navy hurler induced what appeared to be a groundball double play to second. However, the ball took a bad hop and glanced off the second baseman's shoulder and the Mids were unable to get any outs on the play. The Black Knights followed with sacrifice bunt before using a single, fielder's choice, triple and double to claim a 4-1 cushion.

Hamilton, Bolt, Hoosier and Hollins each produced two hits on the afternoon as the Midshipmen out-hit the Black Knights, 11-9. Hamilton also was hit by a pitch twice in reaching base safely in all four of his plate appearances on Saturday.

"Thomas did a real nice job at the plate today," commented Kostacopoulos. "He really had a great at bat in the eighth inning, working, fouling off pitches before getting a hit to left-center. It was also nice to see Kendall (Bolt), Mike (Hoosier) and Renaldo (Hollins) produce with two hits today."

This year's Navy baseball squad won more games (35) and played more contests (55) than any other team in the program's 112-year history. The 2007 Midshipmen also made the Patriot League Tournament for the 12th time in school history and the first since the 2004 campaign.

"Looking back on a 55-game season, there were certainly a lot of positives that came from this year's team," said Kostacopoulos. "We have come a long way in becoming a better baseball program over the last two years. We have continued to take steps in the right direction. This year's squad has definitely built upon the progress from last year. With our youth this year, there's a good opportunity next year to build upon the performances put forth this season."

NOTE: Lafayette Beat Army 8-3 to open Patriot League Championship Series. The two teams meet for game two on Sunday at 12:00 p.m. If Lafayette wins that game they'll be champions. If Army wins, a third game will be played and the winner will be the champion.


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