Baseball Splits Patriot League Tournament Opening Day Action With Lehigh

Nate Koneski

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The designated away team came away victorious in both games of the Patriot League Tournament opening day as the  No. 3 seeded Holy Cross baseball team split with the No. 2 seed Lehigh by scores of 2-1 and 4-1 at Goodman Campus. With the day's decisions, Holy Cross tallies a 24-24 overall record while Lehigh marks a record of 23-26 overall. The Crusaders and Mountain Hawks will now compete in the rubber match of the series tomorrow, May 16 at Goodman Campus beginning at 12:00 p.m. with a berth to the Patriot League Championship round on the line. Sophomore starter Nate Koneski (North Dighton, Mass.) pitched a gem in game one, allowing one run to score in a nine-inning, complete game outing

Game One.

After a scoreless first and second innings, Holy Cross went up 1-0 in the top of third as junior Jack Laurendeau (Sudbury, Mass.) drew a two out walk, advanced to third base on a single by senior John Sills (Milton, Mass.) and then scored on a fielding error by Lehigh's first baseman. Koneski continued his hard efforts from the mound, as the Mountain Hawks scattered three hits over the first four innings of work.

Lehigh collected two extra base hits in the bottom of the fifth inning, including a run-scoring double to knot the score at 1-1. Freshman Stephen Wadsworth (Wayland, Mass.) scored on a sacrifice fly by junior Nick Ciardiello (Edison. N.J.) in the top of the sixth inning, collecting his 57th RBI of the season and giving the Crusaders a 2-1 lead. Koneski would pitch his way out of a jam in the bottom of the sixth inning and then retire six straight batters to protect his team's one run lead heading into the ninth inning. After Holy Cross went three-up, three-down in the top of the inning, Koneski picked up two quick outs with a strikeout and groundout to the shortstop before Lehigh's number nine batter hit a hard hit ball to right field and was then thrown out at second on a throw from Laurendeau,  preserving the Crusaders' final 2-1 victory in game one.

Koneski pitched his first nine-inning complete game of the season, notching his fifth complete game overall. He also earned his sixth win, improving to 6-2 on the season after allowing one run on seven hits and striking out three. Lehigh's Andrew Berger would pitch the complete nine innings as well, but tallied the loss to fall to 5-2 on the season. He allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits and five strikeouts.

Game Two

Lehigh scored first as the designated away team in the second game, collecting an RBI single to go up 1-0 in the top of the first inning. Junior Brendan McCrea (Hicksville, N.Y.) tied the score at 1-1 in the top of the second inning, hitting a double off the left center wall, his 10th of the season, and scoring Ciardiello. The Mountain Hawks answered with one run to regain a 2-1 lead, scoring on a wild pitch in the bottom of the second.

Lehigh picked up one run on four hits in the top of the sixth inning, chasing senior starter Matt Shapiro (Raynham, Mass.) from the game. With the bases loaded, senior Bobby Holmes (Dedham, Mass.) retired two of the three batters he faced to keep the Mountain Hawks from scoring again, marking the score at 3-1. The Crusaders would load the bases on three consecutive singles by Wadsworth, junior Eric Oxford (Danvers, Mass.) and sophomore Steve Tkowski (Bourne, Mass.) in the bottom of the sixth inning, but could not put a runner across home plate.

A sacrifice fly increased Lehigh's lead to 4-1 in the top of the eighth inning. Holy Cross remained scoreless from the second inning on, as they dropped the second game by the 4-1 final.

Shapiro takes home the loss, falling to 4-3 on the season after pitching 5.1 innings, giving up three runs on six hits. Lehigh's Ken Longernecker earned the winning decision, improving to 7-2 on the season. He pitched seven strong innings, giving up just one run on seven hits. Reliever Cory Kent picked up the save after shutting Holy Cross down for two innings, collecting his ninth save of the season.

On the day, Holy Cross scored three runs on 13 hits while leaving 15 base runners stranded. The Mountain Hawks scored five runs on 15 hits, leaving 16 runners on base. Wadsworth led the Holy Cross on the day, going 3-for-5 at the plate with two walks.

The Crusaders will next play at 12:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 16 in the final game of the best-of-three series with Lehigh. The contest will be played at Lehigh Baseball Field on Goodman Campus in Bethlehem, Pa.