COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Senior southpaw Nate Koneski (North Dighton, Mass.) struck out nine batters in 5.1 innings pitched as the Holy Cross baseball team forced extra innings against No. 4 Texas A&M, eventually falling 3-2 in the 11th inning at Blue Bell Park. With the decision, the Crusaders open up the 2012 campaign with a record of 0-1 while the Aggies improve to 5-0. Freshman Evan Ocello (Camarillo, Calif.) bolstered the Holy Cross offense in his collegiate debut, collecting three hits and scoring one run in the game.
The Aggies struck first, knocking in one run in the top of the first inning, scoring on a double to make it an early 1-0 game. Four scoreless innings followed as Koneski struck out eight Texas A&M batters. Junior Jordan Enos (Stockton, Calif.) tallied the Crusaders' first hit of the game in the top of the fifth, doubling through center. With the score still at 1-0, Ocello singled for his first career hit in the top of the sixth and then stole his first career base to move into third base before an inning-ending strike out ended Holy Cross' chances of tying the score. After striking out his ninth batter, Koneski was replaced in the bottom of the sixth by junior John Colella (Herndon, Va.) with two runners on. The Aggies scored their second run on a fielder's choice before the end of the inning, moving ahead 2-0.
The Crusader offense found the offensive spark they needed in the top of the ninth as Ocello registered his second hit of the night, doubling in the first at-bat. Junior Alex Maldonado (Brooklyn, N.Y.) was then hit by a pitch. Both players advanced a base on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Mike Ahmed (East Longmeadow, Mass.) before senior Steve Tkowski (Bourne, Mass.) broke out for a bases clearing single to right center, sending both runners home and knotting the score at 2-2. Colella continued to pitch well from the mound, allowing one hit in the ninth but no runs scored as the teams played into extra innings. The Crusaders were forced to walk the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th as A&M capitalized on the effort, scoring the winning run on a bases loaded walk.
Colella was charged the loss, opening up the 2012 season with a 0-1 record. He pitched five strong innings in relief, allowing the lone run on two hits while striking out two Aggies. Texas A&M used five pitchers in all as senior Estevan Uriegas picked up the win, improving to 1-0 on the season after facing just one Crusader batter. In all, Holy Cross scored two runs on six hits, making three errors while the Aggies notched three runs on six hits, committing no errors in the 11 innings of work.
Holy Cross continues the three-game series against A&M on Saturday, February 25. Game time is slated for 3:00 p.m. EST at Blue Bell Park in College Station, Texas.