Baseball Wins Big In Two Games In Series Finale With NJIT

John Sills

WORCESTER, Mass. – The Holy Cross baseball team combined to score 31 runs, while allowing just six runs to be scored over two games, topping NJIT by scores 15-6 and 16-0 to complete a four-game sweep at Fitton Field. With the finals, the Crusaders move to an ever 8-8 on the season while the Highlanders collect a record of 3-15. Senior John Sills (Milton, Mass.) batted .800 on the day, collecting four hits in five at-bats with three RBI and five runs scored.

Junior Eric Oxford (Danvers, Mass.) tallied an RBI single in the bottom of the first inning in the first game, scoring Sills and putting the Crusaders up early, 1-0. Junior Nick Ciardiello (Edison, N.J.) then homered for the second time in two days to increase the team’s lead to 2-0 after three innings of play. NJIT came back to tie the game at 2-2 in the top of the fourth inning, picking up the two runs on three hits. The tie did not last long as Holy Cross answered with four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to retake a 6-2 lead. The Crusaders would get the first run in on a bases loaded walk by senior Matt Perry (Sudbury, Mass.). Ciardello then remained hot in his third at-bat of the game, doubling down the left field line for three RBI, scoring Perry, Sills and junior Brendan McCrea (Hicksville, N.Y.). The Highlanders would not back down; however, as they combined for three more runs in the top of the fifth inning to get within on run of Holy Cross, 6-5.

The Crusaders exploded for five runs half an inning later as they chased NJIT starter Austin McAuliffe out of the game and taking an 11-5 lead. Junior Jack Laurendeau (Sudbury, Mass.) marked the big hit in the inning, tripling for the third time in his career and scoring two runners. Sills also tacked on his first RBI of the day with a single and Ciardello added two RBI on a bases clearing double to complete the five-run, five hit fifth inning. Holy Cross would put the game away with four more runs in the bottom of sixth inning on four hits, finishing the seven-inning first game up by the final score of 15-6.

Neither team notched a run in the first three innings of the second game. Freshman starter Vaughn Hayward (Glendale, R.I.) struck out four of the first eight batters he faced and did not allow a hit through the first three innings. Ciardello would break the 0-0 tie with a home run to centerfield in the first at-bat of the bottom of the fourth inning. The Crusaders continued to break out offensively in the inning, tacking on three more runs, including a two-run double by senior Chris Blanchard (Norwich, Conn.) who then scored himself on an error by the NJIT catcher. At the end of the fourth inning the team was up 4-0. Two more runs were scored by Holy Cross in the bottom of the fifth inning, as Oxford and sophomore Steve Tkowksi (Bourne, Mass.) picked up one RBI each to increase the team’s lead to 6-0. Six Holy Cross runs followed in the bottom of the sixth inning, three more were added in the bottom of the seventh and one last run was scored in the bottom of the eighth inning, putting the Crusaders up by the final 16-0 tally.

Freshman Zack Burdeau (Andover, Mass.) tallied his first two collegiate RBI as he singled to bring runners home in the bottom of the seventh inning. Fellow freshman Josh Olson (Woodbury, Minn.) also tallied his first collegiate RBI in his first appearance in a Holy Cross uniform, singling in the eighth inning for the final hit of the day.

Senior starter Matt Shapiro (Raynham, Mass.) earned his first win of the spring in the first game, improving to 1-1 on the season. He pitched just over four innings, allowing five runs on six hits while striking out five batters. Hayward picked up the winning decision in the 16-0 shut out, also his first of the season as he improves to 1-1. He pitched six innings, giving up just three hits and no runs with a season-high six strikeouts. NJIT’s Austin McAuliffe took the loss in game one, falling to 1-4 on the season while Kyle Burdi, in his first career start, tallied the losing decision in game two.

On the day, Holy Cross combined for 32 runs on 31 hits while the Highlanders scored at total of six runs on 12 hits. The Crusaders also stole five bases and marked four triples, both season-highs.

Holy Cross will continue non-league action with a game against Massachusetts on Tuesday, March 30. The Crusaders will travel to Amherst, Mass. to take on the Minutemen at Earl Lorden Field starting at 3:00 p.m.