Baseball Escapes Princeton Comeback, 5-4

Nate Koneski

RICHMOND, Va. – Despite a four-run ninth inning comeback attempt by Princeton, the Holy Cross baseball team won out, 5-4, in the final day of action at the Terry Sisisky Classic on the Diamond. With the result, the Crusaders win their third straight contest, improving to a record of 5-7 while the Tigers drop to 1-5 on the season. Junior starter Nate Koneski (North Dighton, Mass.) threw seven shut out innings, allowing just three Tiger hits while striking out seven of the 25 total batters he faced.

Holy Cross scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning to take an early 1-0 lead as freshman Mike Ahmed (East Longmeadow, Mass.) scored senior Nick Ciardiello (Edison, N.J.), who reached base on a single in the first at-bat of the inning, on a sacrifice fly. The next five innings became a pitcher's duel as the team's combined for five total hits and no runs scored. Koneski scattered three hits in the second through fourth and allowed no hits in the fifth and sixth innings. He then struck out two consecutive batters to pitch himself out of a jam in the seventh before being relieved by sophomore Josh Hauser (Dallas, Texas) in the eighth.

The Crusaders finally got to the Princeton pitchers in the bottom of the seventh, tagging Tigers reliever David Palms for four runs. With two outs, sophomore Alex Maldonado (Brooklyn, N.Y.) drew a walk and scored one at-bat later as senior Jack Laurendeau (Sudbury, Mass.) tripled for the first time this season. After senior Eric Oxford (Danvers, Mass.) reached base after being hit by a pitch, Ciardiello made it a 5-0 game with one swing of the bat, homering to left field to bring all runners home.

Hauser allowed one hit in the top of eighth before Princeton began its comeback attempt in the top of the ninth. The Tigers put together four consecutive hits, including two RBI singles and followed with a double one out later to make it a 5-4 game. Sophomore John Colella (Herndon, Va.) would have to come in to take over on the mound for Hauser and let up a single before getting the last Princeton batter to fly out, preserving his squad's 5-4 lead and collecting his first save of the season.

Koneski returned to form against the Tigers, picking up his first win of the season to improve to 1-2 overall. He pitched seven innings, allowing just three hits while striking out seven. Princeton starter Matt Bowman suffered the loss, dropping to 0-2 on the season. He gave up one run on four hits while striking out two batters in five innings pitched.  In all, Holy Cross scored five runs on nine hits and made three errors while the Tigers scored four runs on 10 hits, making one error. Ciardiello went two-for-four at the plate, leading the squad with three RBI an extended his hit streak to eight games.

Holy Cross returns to action next weekend for its home opener on March 18. The Crusaders will take on Albany for a 4:00 p.m. match-up on Fitton Field in Worcester, Mass.