Navy wins opening game of 2019 Freedom Classic
Navy starting pitcher Noah Song prepares to deliver a pitch during Friday’s 2-1 victory for the Midshipmen. Song finished with 14 strikeouts to lead Navy to the win. Photo by Linda Whittington / Neuse News
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A small but dedicated group of fans braved a chilly, wet and windy evening Friday to watch the first game of the 2019 Freedom Classic.
In a low-scoring game, the Navy Midshipmen outlasted the Air Force Falcons, 2-1.
Senior Navy starting pitcher Noah Song set the tone for the Midshipmen, turning in a scoreless effort in his six innings of work. He recorded 14 strikeouts total, with the first 10 outs for the Midshipmen coming via the K, and he went six innings giving up three hits, two walks and no runs.
On the offensive side of the plate, the Midshipmen (1-3) got things started in the top of the 1st inning, when left fielder Ryan Duffey came up to bat with two outs and two men on base. He hit a line drive into center field and drove in catcher Christian Hodge. Duffey advanced to second on the throw, but the next batter up, Evan Lowery struck out to end the inning and send it to the bottom of the first with the Midshipmen up 1-0.
The Falcons (2-3) got two men on base in the bottom of the inning on a single and a walk with one out, but Song struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
In the top of the third, Falcons starter Tyler Mortenson led off with a hit batsman, putting Jacob Williamson on base. Mortenson got the next two batters to fly out, but a throwing error on a ground ball from Duffey let Williamson score the Midshipmen’s second run.
The Falcons threatened again in the bottom of the third, working the bases loaded on a single, an error and a walk, but Song got himself out of the jam with three strikeouts to end the inning. Song said that was the key moment in the game.
“The third inning when the bases were loaded, that was the turning point for me, as far as finding my stride,” he said.
That stride continued through the end of the sixth. The Falcons’ lone run came in the seventh inning, when Jack Ferguson came on in relief of Song. Two walks set the stage for a single by Air Force center fielder Drew Wiss, scoring right fielder Ashton Easley.
The Falcons loaded the bases again in the bottom of the eighth, but weren’t able to bring another runner home, and Charlie Connolly retired the Falcons in the bottom of the ninth.
The win was the first of the season for the Midshipmen, and coach Paul Kostacopoulos said getting that first win is a good feeling. Still, he said, there was room for improvement. “We left a lot of guys on base tonight, didn’t really hit with guys on,” he said.
Game 2 of the Freedom Classic is Saturday at 2 p.m.