East Carolina eliminates Navy from NCAA baseball tournament

East Carolina's Ben Fultz, left, and Mike Ussery (2) celebrate the 6-1 victory over Navy in an NCAA regional baseball tournament game, Saturday, June 4, 2011 in Charlottesville, Va. Navy was eliminated from NCAA tournament competition with the loss. (AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff)East Carolina’s Ben Fultz, left, and Mike Ussery (2) celebrate the 6-1 victory over Navy in an NCAA regional baseball tournament game, Saturday, June 4, 2011 in Charlottesville, Va. Navy was eliminated from NCAA tournament competition with the loss. (AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff)
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Navy never seemed out of place amongst a quality field at the Charlottesville Regional, but after two games against two of the nation’s finest pitchers, the fourth-seeded Midshipmen made an early exit.

The Patriot League champions fell to No. 2 East Carolina 6-1 Saturday at Virginia’s Davenport Field, ending Navy’s season after one of the biggest turnarounds in college baseball.

“It’s been an incredible experience for our program,” Navy coach Paul Kostacopoulos said after leading the Midshipmen (33-25-1) to the NCAA tournament a year after finishing last in their conference. 

“We knew coming into the regional we were going to see some arms,” Kostacopoulos said. “That was something we fully expected.”

ECU ace Seth Maness threw a complete-game five-hitter, with Navy’s only run coming unearned in the ninth inning after Jeff Bland reached on an error and scored on an RBI grounder from Andrew Hahn. The Maness gem came a day after Virginia’s Will Roberts threw a complete-game shutout against the Midshipmen.

Navy outfielder Brandon Beans (31) can't reach a grand slam hit by East Carolina's Chase McDonald (42) during an NCAA regional baseball tournament game Saturday, June 4, 2011, in Charlottesville, Va. East Carolina won 6-1 and eliminated Navy from the tournament. (AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff)

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Navy outfielder Brandon Beans (31) can’t reach a grand slam hit by ... more >

Navy starter Sam Long went six innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits, but the Pirates broke it open in the seventh when freshman designated hitter Chase McDonald hit a grand slam to left field off reliever Preston Gainey, rewarding ECU coach Billy Godwin for moving him to the cleanup spot Saturday.

“I thought he had some good plate appearances yesterday,” Godwin said. “I have a lot of confidence in Chase. I just felt like something good was going to happen.”

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