STATESBORO, Ga. - The bottom of the fourth inning proved detrimental again for the Holy Cross baseball team as Georgia Southern scored nine times in the inning and fended off a late comeback, moving past the Crusaders by the final score of 13-10 in the second game of the three-game series at JI Clements Stadium. With the loss, the Crusaders fall to a record of 0-2 while the Eagles now stand at 3-4 overall. Holy Cross collected 18 hits in the game, including a team-high four hits from junior Brendan McCrea (Hicksville, N.Y.).
Holy Cross struck first, tallying a run in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by junior Eric Oxford (Danvers, Mass.), scoring fellow classmate McCrea. McCrea led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second base after senior Matt Perry (Sudbury, Mass.) singled to right field. McCrea took third base after sophomore Steve Tkowski (Bourne, Mass.) flied out and then scored on Oxford's fly out. Perry advanced to third base on a single by sophomore Chris Sintetos (Bethesda, Md.) but would not score as junior Nick Ciardello (Edison, N.J.) struck out to end the inning. Georgia Southern went three-up, three-down in the bottom half of the inning, giving the Crusaders an early 1-0 edge.
The Crusaders tallied another run in the top of the second inning. With one out, junior Jack Laurendeau (Sudbury, Mass.) singled and then stole second base to get into scoring position. One out later, McCrea doubled to center field, scoring Laurendeau and picking up his first RBI of the season. Perry would end the inning with a strikeout as Holy Cross led 2-0 at the end of two innings.
After a scoreless third and top half of the fourth inning, the Eagles' offense broke out for nine runs in the bottom half of the fourth. Freshman Vaughn Hayward (Glendale, R.I.), who gave up just one hit in the first three innings, walked the first batter and then allowed two doubles and two runs to score with just one out before sophomore John Pedrotty (Portsmouth, R.I.) came in relief. Georgia Southern would continue to keep up its offensive pace, ending the inning with nine runs scored on four hits, taking a 9-2 lead.
Holy Cross answered with three runs in the top of the fifth inning. McCrea singled to start the inning and Perry followed with a double, advancing McCrea to third base. McCrea then scored as Tkowski grounded out to third base. With two outs, Sintetos tallied his second hit of the day and first RBI of the season, scoring Perry for the second run. Sintetos, who advanced to second base on a wild pitch, crossed home plate for the third and final run as Ciardello singled through the right side, picking up the RBI. Georgia Southern tacked on an additional run in the bottom of the inning, bringing the score to 10-5 at the end of five innings.
After the Eagles scored three more runs in the sixth inning, Holy Cross began to chip away at the eight-run lead, tacking on two runs in the seventh and three runs in the eighth inning, totaling seven hits. With two runners on, freshman Patrick Puentes (East Greenbush, N.Y.) singled to left field in his first collegiate at-bat, scoring Tkowski to tally his first career RBI. Oxford, who singled during his earlier at-bat, scored the second run after Ciardello singled up the middle, earning his second RBI of the day.
McCrea started off the top of the eighth with his third hit in the game. With two outs, Oxford singled, advancing McCrea to third base. Puentes followed with a single, scoring McCrea for the first run. Oxford then scored on a fielding error by the Georgia Southern second baseman and Puentes touched home for the third and final run as senior John Sills (Milton, Mass.) singled up the middle. Holy Cross ended the eighth inning down by three runs, 13-10.
Holy Cross saw one more opportunity in the top of the ninth inning, as back-to-back singles from McCrea and Perry gave the Crusaders a final scoring chance with one out. Georgia Southern pitching finished strong, however, as Tkowski struck out looking and Oxford hit into a fielder's choice to end the inning. The Crusaders late-inning comeback would come up short, as the Eagles finished the game up 13-10.
Hayward collected the loss for the Crusaders, giving up five runs on three hits in 3.1 innings of work. He falls to a record of 0-1. Georgia Southern's Trent Franzago picked up the win, pitching five innings and allowing five runs on nine hits while striking out six batters. Franzago moves to 1-0 on the season. In all, Holy Cross scored 10 runs on eighteen hits while the Eagles notched 13 runs on 10 hits.
Holy Cross completes the three-game series against Georgia Southern on Monday, March 1. Game time is slated for 6:00 p.m. at JI Clements Field in Statesboro, Ga.