Baseball Breaks Out For 14-4 Win Over Massachusetts

Tom Marra

WORCESTER, Mass. – The Holy Cross baseball team used its bats, combining for 14 runs on 15 hits to break out for a 14-4 win against in-state foe Massachusetts at Fitton Field. With the final tally, the Crusaders combine for a record of 11-10-1 while the Minutemen go to 6-10 on the season. Senior Nick Ciardiello (Edison, N.J.) and sophomore Josh Olson (Woodbury, Minn.) combined for seven hits and seven RBI as Ciardiello knocked in a season and team-high four RBI  while Olson collected a team-high four hits.

The Crusaders jumped to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, collecting three straight hits, including a double by leadoff batter Alex Maldonado (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and singles from seniors Jack Laurendeau (Sudbury, Mass.) and Ciardiello. Ciardiello extended his hit-streak to 18 games, scoring Maldonado for the first run while sophomore Patrick Puentes (East Greenbush, N.Y.) scored Laurendeau for the second run on a groundout to the pitcher. Ciardiello then made it a 3-0 game in the bottom of the second inning, picking up his second RBI hit with a single, scoring Olson, who led the inning off with a single in his first career start as the team's designated hitter.

Puentes notched the team's sixth hit of the day, doubling in the bottom of the third with one out. Senior Brendan McCrea (Hicksville, N.Y.) would come in as a pinch runner for Puentes and touched home plate for Holy Cross' fourth run as Olson doubled to send him around. Sophomore starter Tom Marra (Sea Cliff, N.Y.) would two-hit the Minutemen through the first four innings as the Crusaders went ahead 5-0 in the bottom of the fourth after senior Eric Oxford (Danvers, Mass.) connected for a RBI single up the middle to bring around Maldonado, who walked to lead off.

The Crusaders broke through for four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 9-0 lead as Ciardiello knocked in two runs on his third hit of the day. Oxford also sent home his second run with a single while freshman Andrew Barry (Puyallup, Wash.) hit a sacrifice fly to start the scoring in the inning. Massachusetts broke its scoring drought in the top of the sixth inning, putting two runs on the board to make it a 9-2 game.

Holy Cross answered with five more runs in the bottom of the seventh to take a commanding 14-2 lead. Olson added a two-run double in the inning while freshman Brandon Cipolla (Abington, Mass.) also doubled to notch his first career RBI. UMass would also allow Cipolla to score on a wild pitch as McCrea grounded into a RBI fielder's choice that scored Ciardiello, who walked earlier in the inning.

The Minutemen would tack on two final runs on four hits in the top of ninth, but freshman reliever Nate Walker (San Diego, Calif.) finished the inning strong, striking out one batter and getting the final batter to fly out to end the game. Walker, who entered the game in the sixth inning, allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits and struck out three batters to earn his first career save.

Marra concluded the game with the win, improving to 1-1 on the season after shutting out the Minutemen for five innings. He allowed just two hits and struck out two batters. UMass freshman starter Ryan Lubreski takes home the loss, going to 0-1 on the spring. He allowed four runs on seven hits in 2.2 innings pitched. In all, the Crusaders scored 14 runs on 15 hits and made two errors. The Minutemen scored four runs on eight hits and made one error. Maldonado and Oxford also had two-hit games as Maldonado also scored four of the 14 runs.

Holy Cross continues non-conference action on Wednesday, March 30 at Harvard. First pitch is set for 3:30 p.m. at O'Donnell Field in Cambridge, Mass.