Feb. 28, 2004
MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Three Air Force pitchers combined to toss a three-hit shutout blanking Navy, 7-0 at the Service Academies Spring Classic at USA Stadium in Millington, Tenn. The Falcons improve to 3-5 on the season and will wrap-up play in the Classic against Murray State tomorrow morning.
Starter Clayton Couch (2-0) continued to pitch well early in the season for Air Force earning his second win in as many outings. Couch, a sophomore right-hander, held Navy (1-8) to just three hits while striking out six in a career-best tying seven innings pitched. The Midshipmen, who committed four errors in the game, reached third base just once against Couch.
Two of the four Navy errors game in a decisive third inning, where the Falcons broke open a scoreless ballgame by erupting for five runs.
Karl Bolt led off the third inning by reaching first on a fielding error by shortstop Matt Gonabe and then advanced to second on a well placed sacrifice bunt by Josh Oakley. After Colton Walter drew a walk, Josh Wolfram laced a single to center field to score Bolt and advanced all the way to third base after a throwing error by the centerfielder, which scored Walter. Nathan DeRohan then hit a slow roller down the first base line which both the pitcher and first baseman converged upon, leaving first base unattended and allowed DeRohan to reach first and Wolfram to score from third. Later in the inning, DeRohan and Brent Tittle came around to score to give the Falcons a commanding 5-0 lead.
The Falcons made the score 6-0 in the top of the fifth utilizing a first and third run-down situation to score. With runners on first and third with two outs, Mike Rose got into a run-down between first and second base, allowing DeRohan to score from third before Rose was tagged out. The Falcons also got their fifth run in similar fashion.
Air Force scored again in the seventh to make it 7-0. After smacking a double down the left field line and then advancing to third in a single by Bolt, Jason Brown scored on a passed ball.
The Falcons racked up 12 base hits in the game, with Bolt, Brown, DeRohan and Wolfram getting two hits each. Wolfram tripled and Brown doubled. Two of Navy's three hits came from Matt Lukevics.
Naval Academy starter Ryan Hefner (1-1) took the loss for the Mids, allowing seven runs, two earned, in six innings pitched.
Couch, a Inola, Okla., native has now thrown 10 consecutive scoreless innings and has struck out 13 batters in his last two outings.
Air Force concludes its stay at the classic tomorrow (Sun., Feb 29) with an early morning nine a.m. (CST) start against Murray State.
Game notes: Air Force is now 11-4 all-time against the Naval Academy... Falcons win first game of the season against a left-handed starting pitcher... Jason Brown's double in the sixth inning was the first extra-base hit of the weekend for the Falcons... Air Force ties season-low with one fielding error.