We all most likely know someone who is now serving or has served in the United States Armed Forces. A mother, father, brother, sister, grandparent, cousin, or friend. The Nationals played the First Annual Naval Academy Classic on Saturday (two more games will be played on the yard, opponents and times are TBD). I have several friends at the USNA and one was at the game. He had been planning to go since the game was first announced back in February. Tickets were very competitive due to the popularity of the game. Players of both clubs came to the Academy early Saturday to meet with midshipmen and take a tour of the campus. From going on ships to climbing in Humvees all indications were that the players were soaking in this experience as much as the mids.
Tickets were only available to a number of midshipmen and select naval personnel. The game was said to be broadcast of ESPN, however somehow I do not get ESPN on campus. I had to watch it through MLB.TV and a slow internet prevented me from being able to watch innings one through three. In the broadcast it was said players had to change at a separate location then take shuttles to the field. When I went to a baseball camp at the USNA we changed in the dorms then walked across to Max Bishop Stadium. The field had been changed since I went there a couple summer’s ago. The turf field had dirt put in at the bases as well as at home plate. A batters eye was also added as modifications needed to be made in order to make the field, MLB ready. There was a helicopter flyover at the end of the national anthem and the game was ready to begin.
The Red Sox did not score in the first inning of play at the USNA game, but the Nationals did. A bases load walk to Jayson Werth on four pitches gave the Nats the lead scoring Trea Truner. The next batter Adam Eaton, a new acquisition via trade with the White Sox hit a sack fly to score Harper, giving the Nationals a quick 2-0 lead. The lead did not last long as the Red Sox came back to even up the score with a ground out to second by Jackie Bradley Jr. to score Hanley Ramirez (an old foe with back with Marlins). Christian Vasquez then singled to the outfield to score Pablo Sandoval, who is said to be the starter at the hot corner for the time being. In the bottom of the second, Max Scherzer hit a chopper up the middle to reach, but no runs crossed the plate for the Nats despite the pitcher’s hit. The midshipmen made their presence known, yelling to motivate their ball clubs. Both Nationals and Sox fans were well represented at the game that day. Some replaced their covers with ball caps of their teams.
The Red Sox replaced starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez with closer Craig Kimbrell to start the 4th inning. Kimbrell a terrifying closer with the Braves with a 100mph+ fastball, now in the AL East, to the enjoyment of many Nationals fans. In between innings the Nationals have The Presidents’ Race. Unofficial mascots: George (Washington), Abe (Lincoln), Tom (Jefferson), and Teddy (Roosevelt) run to a finish line, providing a little excitement for fans during the down time of between innings. The game today was no exception other than Navy Mascot, Billy the Goat, joined the race that day and won it by a somewhat substantial margin.
In the bottom of the fifth a threat was developing with Turner and Murphy on base. Harper launched a double to the outfield and everyone was running. Turner however stopped at third and Murph took to big of a turn around second a little pasted the bag with Bryce almost at second. Trea dashed home showing speed kills, scoring safely and Murphy took third as Bryce came into second. After the top of the sixth, Dusty Baker started to pull starters as Harper, Werth, and Zimmerman exited the stadium. The players signed autographs and took pictures with eager fans upon their exit back to locker room. There is no locker room at the stadium so Bryce found a golf cart and drove over to a designated facility as Jayson Werth was eyeing a PaPa John’s Pizza stand outside the ballpark.
Bottom of the 6th, Jose Lobaton came into score by a ground out from youngster Wilmer Difo. The 8th inning sparked trouble after an attempt at a double play included a spiked throw by Bryan Mejia that got passed Adam Lind, to pull the Red Sox within one. Fernando Abad a former reliever for the Nationals retired the Nats 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 8th, which led us to the 9th.