With Bucknell's help, Navy rolls to 11-3 win Poor Bison pitching, errors contribute to Mids' rout

May 03, 1998|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

Navy capitalized on the wildness of freshman Bucknell starter Kevin McDowell and the shoddy support of his infield to rout the Bison, 11-3, in the opening game of the best-of-three, Patriot League baseball tournament at Max Bishop Stadium yesterday.

Despite an hour-and-45-minute rain delay in the second inning, unbeaten Navy sophomore Shane Groover went the distance to earn his seventh victory. He limited Bucknell to seven hits and struck out nine.

After spotting the Bison a 1-0 lead in the first inning, the Midshipmen (24-15) broke the game open with four runs in the third inning, two in the fourth and four in the fifth.

McDowell (6-2), who entered the game with a 1.92 earned-run average -- sixth best in the NCAA -- came apart in the bizarre fifth when he walked two Mids and committed an error before sophomore first baseman Mark Zematis hit a three-run double.

McDowell's pitching line for 4 2/3 innings was eye-catching. He allowed 10 runs on five hits, walked five and hit three batters.

But McDowell, who had his brother, sophomore Don, as his batterymate, was charged with only four earned runs. Bucknell (31-16) committed five errors -- three by senior shortstop Joe D'Orazio.

In fact, D'Orazio had five errors for the day, committing two dTC others as the Bison beat Army, 9-1, in the qualifying game earlier in the afternoon.

Still, Navy coach Bob MacDonald had to be pleased at the way his team manufactured 11 runs on seven hits, despite the absence of two of his main offensive weapons.

In the past three weeks, the Mids have lost both junior third baseman Tony Mauro (.327) and senior center fielder Toph Lake (.431), an All-Patriot League pick four straight years.

Mauro broke his arm in a collision at the plate against Bucknell on April 18. Four days later, Lake fractured his right thumb and dislocated his shoulder running into the outfield wall against George Mason.

"You can't replace a player like Lake, but our other guys really pulled together," said MacDonald. "It was real important winning this first game, as beat up as we are."

Groover helped save the bullpen for today's rematch, ignoring the lengthy delay.

"I just stayed focused and didn't let anything distract me," said the lanky right-hander. "My fastball was really moving, so, basically, I stuck with that and it worked."

Pub Date: 5/03/98

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