BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Senior Chris Blanchard (Norwich, Conn.) pitched eight shutout innings, allowing just four hits in all to boost the No. 3 seeded Holy Cross baseball team to a 3-0 victory over the No. 2 seed Lehigh in the rubber game of the Patriot League semifinals at Goodman Campus. With the win, Holy Cross tallies a 25-24 overall record and will play in the Patriot League Championship series for the first time in school history while Lehigh completes its season with a record of 23-27 overall.
Blanchard retired eight of the nine batters he faced through the first three innings of play as Holy Cross and Lehigh put together two total hits and no runs scored. Junior Eric Oxford (Danvers, Mass.) put the first run across home plate with a RBI groundout in the top of the fourth inning after senior John Sills (Milton, Mass.) and Matt Perry (Sudbury, Mass.) hit back-to-back singles to get into scoring position. Sills, who collected his second hit of the day, scored the run as Holy Cross took a 1-0 lead.
The Crusaders then broke out for two runs on three hits in the top of the sixth inning to go up 3-0, as Perry started the three-hit rally with a single. Freshman Stephen Wadsworth (Wayland, Mass.) then proved his power with a double off the left field wall, scoring Perry. Oxford followed with a single through the right side, bringing Wadsworth home and collecting his second RBI on the day.
Defense was the name of the game the rest of the way as the infield made big stops to preserve the team's 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth inning. Blanchard would be replaced by sophomore Nate Koneski (North Dighton, Mass.) in the bottom of the ninth inning. With one runner on, Koneski got the first batter out on a foul out and then pitched a double play ball to earn his first career save and giving the Holy Cross baseball team its first ever shot at the Patriot League Championship title.
Blanchard was the star of the show as he improves to 4-2 on the season after pitching eight shutout innings, allowing just four hits in all. Lehigh's Mike Lebo tallies the losing decision and finishes the season with a 4-4 record after pitching six innings, allowing three runs on six hits and striking out four.
On the day, Holy Cross scored three runs on seven hits while leaving five base runners stranded. The Mountain Hawks marked no runs and four hits, leaving five runners on base.
The Crusaders will now face Bucknell next weekend in Worcester for the Patriot League title. Game times and dates will be announced on Monday, May 17.