STORRS, Conn. – Sophomore lefty starter Chris Kono (Greenwich, Conn.) allowed just two runs on six hits in 8.1 innings pitched, recording the most number of innings by a starting pitcher this season, as the Holy Cross baseball team tied Connecticut, 2-2, after 16 innings of play at J.O. Christian Field. With the result, the Crusaders move to a record of 7-8-1 while the Huskies collect an 8-9-1 record on the season. Due to darkness, the game was called after 3 hours and 54 minutes of play.
Holy Cross took an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first with the first three batters all reaching base. Freshman Alex Maldonado (Brooklyn, N.Y.) reached on a throwing error and then advanced to third on a single by senior Jack Laurendeau (Sudbury, Mass.). Fellow senior Eric Oxford (Danvers, Mass.) followed with a single down the right field line, scoring Maldonado. Laurendeau then scored the second run on a sacrifice groundout by junior Steve Tkowski (Bourne, Mass.). Kono allowed just one hit in the bottom half of the first and then retired the next eight batters as the Crusaders held on to their 2-0 lead through three innings.
Connecticut tied the game at 2-2 with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the fourth, scoring on a two-run home run by junior Ryan Fuller. Oxford collected the team's two lone hits from the third through sixth inning as Holy Cross was unable to bring him around to score as Kono came back to retire the next six Huskies as the team's remained in a tie through the sixth inning.
Senior Nick Ciardiello (Edison, N.J.) kept his 11-game hit streak alive in the top of the eighth, singling for the team's fifth run on the day but was unable to score. Kono remained in charge from the mound, allowing just two hits over the seventh and eighth inning and getting support from the defense to keep the runners at bay. Connecticut got a runner into scoring position with no outs in the bottom of the ninth and then intentionally walked the next two batters to load the bases. Sophomore John Colella (Herndon, Va.) replaced Kono with the three runners out and got the first batter to reach on a fielder's choice, tagging out the third base runner at home. The next batter flew out as the team's headed into extra innings.
The Crusaders had a chance to score in the top of the 10th but were called out on a play at the plate as Colella saw three batters in the bottom half of the inning. Holy Cross then got two on with no outs in the top of the 12th as freshman Mike Ahmed (East Longmeadow, Mass.) led off with a single and then reached second on a bunt by fellow freshman Brandon Cipolla (Abington, Mass.). No runners came across, however, as the next three batters recorded outs. Sophomore Andrew Boyce (Avon, Conn.) took control of the mound in the 12th, striking out the first batter and getting the next two to groundout. Boyce also pitched a scoreless 13th inning before allowing Connecticut to load the bases and getting out of a jam in the 14th. Holy Cross saw one last chance to score in the 15th but could not capitalize as the game went as far as the 16th inning before being called due to darkness.
Because of the tie, no pitcher tallied a decision. In all, Holy Cross scored two runs on nine hits and made two errors while the Huskies scored two runs on eight hits and made three errors. Oxford led the team with three hits in seven plate appearances while Laurendeau and Ahmed tallied two hits apiece as well.
Holy Cross returns to action on Wednesday, March 23, hosting in-state rival Boston College. First pitch is set for 4:00 p.m. at Fitton Field in Worcester, Mass.