Baseball: Mids top Memphis, 7-6

MEMPHIS, Tenn.-- Navy baseball freshman Jack Ferrick (Stafford, Va.) delivered a pinch-hit, two-out single through the right side of the infield to score senior Jonathan Johnston (Hamilton Township, N.J.) in the top of the ninth inning as the Midshipmen pulled out a 7-6 win over Memphis in the weekend finale of Service Academy Classic.

For the first-time in the 17-year history Navy has played in the annual spring classic, the Mids head back to Annapolis with a perfect weekend record after taking all three games and improving their mark to 8-2-1. The host Tigers (3-1) fell for the first time this year after posting wins over Alabama, Oklahoma and Notre Dame during the week.

The Midshipmen topped Indiana State during the opening day of the Service Academy Classic on Friday, 6-4. Navy defeated Air Force by an 11-6 final yesterday before completing the undefeated weekend with Sunday's 7-6 victory over Memphis.

With the win, the Midshipmen are off to their best 11-game start to a season since the 1989 squad posted nine wins through their first-11 contests.

"We did exactly what we did yesterday, bunching our hits together to produce runs," stated Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos. "Once again, our bats came alive in the clutch situations. Whenever you hit like we have during those times, you are going to win."

Kostacopoulos added, "Memphis is a very solid team. This was our ninth-straight game away from home, and to be able to sweep three games at a quality tournament, we are feeling pretty good."

With the score tied at six in the ninth, Johnston reached on a fielding error to lead off the inning. Sophomore Thomas Hamilton (Houston, Texas) roped a single to left to put runners on first and second with no outs. After Memphis reliever Philip Utley retired the next-two batters, the stage was set for Ferrick, who took the 2-2 offering and sent it through the hole on the right side of the infield to score Johnston from second base and give the Midshipmen a 7-6 advantage. Senior Joe Koessler (Knoxville, Tenn.) retired the side in the bottom of the ninth to pick up the win.

The two teams were held scoreless through the first-three innings before Navy erupted for five runs in the fourth inning. Johnston led off the inning with a bunt single, followed by a Hamilton single to put runners on first and second. Sophomore Mitch Harris (Mt. Holly, N.C.) delivered a single trough the left side to score Johnston for the first-run of the game. Senior Jared Munde (Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.) continued his hot start to the 2006 season, depositing a 2-1 pitch over the right-centerfield wall for a three-run home run. Sophomore Renaldo Hollins (Virginia Beach, Va.) concluded the scoring in the fourth with a RBI-single to give the guests a 5-0 advantage.

In addition to his round-tripper on Sunday, Munde also homered in Saturday’s win against Air Force to become the first Midshipman to hit home runs in back-to-back games since Craig Candeto performed the feat against Bucknell in the Patriot League Tournament on may 11, 2003. The home run also extended Munde’s hitting streak to 10 games, the longest of his career and longest streak for a Navy player since Matt Lukevics put together a 10-game hitting streak during the 2004 season.

However, the host Tigers would not go away, chipping away at the Midshipmen lead over the next-four innings. Memphis scored one run in the bottom of the fourth before tallying three runs in the sixth to cut the margin to one at 5-4. The Tigers would tie the game in the seventh inning on a sacrifice fly that scored Will Petersen.

The Midshipmen immediately responded in the next inning, as they capitalized on Memphis miscues to plate a run and break the tie. With one out, freshman Joshua Martinez (Denver, Colo.) reached first on an error. Junior Lewis Hobbs (Wilmington, N.C.) came in to pinch-run for Martinez and one out later, advanced to second on a balk. In scoring position, Hobbs would come around to score on junior B.J. Bickel's (Benson, N.C.) single to right as the Midshipmen regained the lead, 6-5.

Once again, the Tigers came back to even the score in the bottom of the inning courtesy of a RBI-single off the bat of Cory Barton, knotting the score at six and setting up Navy's ninth-inning performance.

Freshman Tim Hammond (Woodbine, Md.) started in his first-career game on Sunday, scattering three hits and one run with only two walks and five strikeouts in five excellent innings on the hill.

"Tim (Hammond) was outstanding today," said Kostacopoulos. "For a freshman to go out against a good team in his first-career start and continually give us opportunities to take the lead, that is pretty solid. Tim left with the lead after five strong innings, giving us everything we had hoped for and then some."

Hamilton keyed Navy's 12-hit effort with a career-best four base knocks in five at bats and a run scored. Junior Michael Garcia (Kailua, Hawaii) registered his second-career multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 at the plate. Johnston crossed the plate twice, including the game-winner, as he went 1-for-4 on Sunday.

Munde went 1-for-5 with the three-run home run to finish the weekend 6-for-12 in the batters box with two doubles, two home runs, eight RBIs and two stolen bases.

Navy next plays in the last of its 10-consecutive contests away from Annapolis this Thursday, March 2, against Georgetown. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Shirley Povich Field in Bethesda, Md.


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