The Navy baseball team avoided a weekend sweep and dealt the Minutemen their first loss of the 2023 season with a 6-4 win on Sunday afternoon at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium. The victory came on the back of a gritty start from right-hander Thomas Russell, who combined with relievers Reece Early and Landon Kruer for 10 strikeouts, holding UMass to just eight hits. The dominant bullpen performance allowed Navy to take control of the game and secure the win.
UMass started off strong with Zack Zaetta singling to start the game before stealing second to put himself in scoring position for a two-out double by Mike Gervasi. The Mids answered in the bottom of the first with Eduardo Diaz tripling to the left-center gap and Logan Keller lifting a sacrifice fly to right field four pitches later to bring Diaz home. UMass briefly retook the lead in the second on a solo home run by Steve Luttazi, but Navy quickly responded, taking the lead in the home half of the inning when Kyle Rausch was plunked and Brock Murtha doubled, setting up Anthony Fiallo to plate both runners with a single through the middle.
Navy tacked on three more runs in the third, extending their edge to 6-2. The Minutemen cut the lead to 6-4 in the fifth, but Russell got Gervasi to pop up to strand the tying run on base. Despite UMass’s bullpen limiting Navy to just one hit over the final five innings, Navy matched the pitching performance as Early went 3-plus innings and struck out four before handing the ball off to Kruer for the final three outs in the ninth inning. Kruer induced a 4-6-3 double play before fanning Zaetta to earn his first save of the year.
Russell ended his day with a career-high five innings, matching his career best of five strikeouts and picking up his first win of the season after allowing just two earned runs on five hits. UMass starter Tyler Dalton suffered the loss with six runs allowed on five hits in two-plus innings on the mound.
Navy’s offense was led by Fiallo and Colin Smith, who each had a two-run knock. Diaz extended his hit streak to five games and his on-base streak to 11 contests, while Alex Smith continued his hitting streak to sit at four-straight contests with a base-hit. The Mids’ batters only struck out three times on Sunday, marking a season-low for Navy.
Navy now leads the all-time series with UMass, 7-4. The Mids will make the short trip to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, March 8 for a rematch with Georgetown.