In one of college sports' biggest rivalry, the Army West Point Black Knights and Navy Midshipmen split a double-header to open their four-game set. The four-game series marks the Annual Star Series between the military and naval academies on the diamond. The Midshipmen have won the last two Stars, having won seven of the past eight games between the two squads. Army needs to sweep Sunday's doubleheader to take the Star back.
Navy was led by Evan Lowery and Leland Saile, who were pivotal in most of their rallies. They both tallied 3 RBI, and Lowery scored a run for the Midshipmen. Zach Biggers added a two-run triple in the opener. for a 7-3 opening win. Army's offense was paced by Josh Smith and Jon Rosoff, who combined for 5 RBI. Evan Lindner and Trey Martin recorded two-run blasts in Army's Game 2 win. Noah Song got the win for Navy in Game 1, while Tyler Giovinco cruised in Game 2 to pick up the win for the Black Knights, 9-2 over their academy rivals.
Navy dominates doubleheader opener
The Midshipmen showed why they lead the Patriot League with a dominating showing in a 7-3 victory over their arch-rivals from the military academy. It took them a few innings to get on the board, but once they did, they relentlessly pounded the Black Knights into submission. They took leads of 2-0 and 4-1, and, after Army cut it to 4-3, responded with three unanswered runs to ice the opener.
Navy wasted one-out hits by Travis Blue (single) and Jacob Williamson (double) over the first two innings, but Army could do nothing offensively to grab an early lead. The Midshipmen jumped on the board with a pair of tallies in the third inning. Evan Lowery and Leland Saile led Navy to the 2-0 advantage.
The Midshipmen wasted a golden opportunity to expand their lead in the fourth inning. They loaded the bases, but an outstanding defensive play from the Black Knights held the Patriot League leaders at bay. Sophomore third baseman Trey Martin laid out to snag a line drive headed for the left field corner and keep the deficit at two runs.
Army got one run back in the bottom half of the inning. Outfielder Matt Hudgins just missed a three-run home run when his monster shot sailed just wide of the foul pole. The power-hitting sophomore settled for a sacrifice fly to cut the Navy lead to 2-1.
However, displaying their relentless offense again, Navy cut short any Army momentum by picking up another pair of runs in the fifth. Lowery and Adrian Chinnery picked up base knocks to start the inning, coming around to score on a two-run triple from Zach Biggers.
Army didn't lie down right away, as they responded to Navy's two-spot with a pair of runs of their own. Josh White brought the deficit to two runs with a RBI, and Jon Rosoff followed with a run-scoring base knock of his own, bringing the Black Knights back within one.
Unfortunately for Army, the Midshipmen refused to fold, putting two more on the board to put the game away. Saile drove in one with a sacrifice fly, and Lowery, who was at the center of all three of Navy's big innings, drove in another with a run-scoring ground out. Biggers added a sacrifice fly in the seventh, bringing the score to its final of 7-3.
Sophomore Noah Song picked up the win on the mound for the Midshipmen, hurling five innings of three-run ball. Jett Meenach tossed two scoreless innings to end the ballgame and collect the save.
Army evens the series with Game 2 victory
Snapping a five-game losing streak against the Midshipmen, Army secured a Game 2 victory to keep their hopes for stealing back the Star, although they need a pair of victories on Sunday to make that hope a reality.
The Black Knights didn't get off to an ideal start in the second game of the day, as the Midshipmen immediately slapped two runs on the scoreboard in the top of the first. Game 1 stars Saile and Lowery again played pivotal roles in the inning, picking up a RBI each in the inning. Army failed to answer, and Navy got a chance to extend the lead in the second. However, Rosoff, starting behind the plate for the Black Knights, gunned down a potential base-stealer for the Midshipmen, ending thoughts of a rally. Army carried the momentum into the bottom half of the frame when Trey Martin drilled a game-tying shot over the left field fence.
Southpaw starter Tyler Giovinco cruised through a lockdown 1-2-3 inning for the Black Knights, and Army took their first lead of the series in the third, when left fielder John McCarthy slammed a two-out double to right-center field, bringing home Rosoff for a 3-2 Army lead.
Giovinco continued to mow down Midshipmen at the plate, recording two more perfect innings for the Black Knights, allowing his squad to give him some more breathing room to work with. Again utilizing the long ball, Army struck for two more runs in the fifth. Kris Lindner gave the Black Knights some much needed insurance, walloping a two-run shot over the right field wall for a 5-2 lead.
Giovinco ran his streak of Midshipmen retired to eleven before allowing a two-out double in the sixth. He stranded the runner easily, preserving the three-run Army lead. Army iced their victory with three more tallies in the bottom half of the inning. White and Rosoff combined for 3 RBI to bring the lead to 8-2 for the Black Knights. They would tack on an eighth-inning run on a sacrifice bunt to score a run.
Blake Walters replaced Giovinco on the mound and cruised to the finish. Assisted by a sensational diving play from Lindner in the eighth, Walters posted two scoreless innings to end the game in Army's favor.