WORCESTER, Mass. – Sophomore Mike Ahmed (East Longmeadow, Mass.) knocked out a home run and also earned the win on the mound in game two as the Holy Cross baseball team split the day's doubleheader with first-place Army at Fitton Field. The Crusaders lost game one, 4-2, and then broke Army's conference unbeaten streak in game two, 6-3. With the decisions, the squad moves to 28-19 (12-6 PL) while the Black Knights go to 34-11 (17-1 PL). Junior Stephen Wadsworth (Wayland, Mass.) led the team offensively on the day, collecting a team-high three hits and three RBI.
Wadsworth put Holy Cross up early, 2-0, in the bottom of the first, tallying a two-run single to send home Ahmed and junior Alex Maldonado (Brooklyn, N.Y.). After a scoreless second inning, Army came back to tie the game, 2-2, in the top of the third, scoring on a wild pitch and a Holy Cross fielding error. Junior starter Tom Marra (Sea Cliff, N.Y.) pitched a hitless fourth inning before freshman Collin Manning (Charlotte, N.C.) took over pitching duties in the top of the sixth. Marra left the game with the no decision, pitching just over four innings and striking out four Black Knight batters. Manning struck out one batter in the top of the sixth and kept the Black Knights scoreless as the teams remained in a 2-2 tie.
Army's starter, Chris Rowley, settled in from the second through sixth innings, striking out six Crusader batters. The Black Knights took over the lead in the top of the seventh as junior John Colella (Herndon, Va.) came in to pitch with the go-ahead runner on. Colella struck out one batter but allowed a RBI single through and then walked in another run with the bases loaded. Army scored two times on three hits in the inning, taking a 4-3 lead. Rowley finished the complete game with a final three-up, three-down bottom of the seventh, striking out one final batter as Holy Cross could not find a way to score again, losing game one, 4-2.
Manning, allowed the single in the top of the seventh, took home the loss, dropping to 1-2 on the season. He allowed one run on one hit and struck out two batters in 1.1 innings pitched. Rowley pitched seven full innings and earned the win, improving to a nation-best 10-0. He allowed two runs on three hits and struck out 10. In all, Holy Cross scored two runs on three hits and committed three errors while the Black Knights scored four runs on six hits and committed one error.
Freshman Donny Murray (Walpole, Mass.) earned his first weekend start in the second game as Army took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second, scoring the run on a RBI double. The Crusaders came back to tie the game, 1-1, in the bottom of the fourth as senior Chris Sintetos (Bethesda, Md.) led off with a stand up double. Fellow senior Steve Tkowski (Bourne, Mass.) sent his classmate home on a RBI single up the middle, tying the game. Each team added a run in the fifth inning, with Army collecting one run on two hits. Ahmed knocked out his team-leading sixth home run of the season in the bottom half of the fifth to make it a 2-2 game.The teams each battled for one run again in the sixth inning to play to a 3-3 tie. Wadsworth led off the bottom of the sixth with a single and then scored the Holy Cross run on a sacrifice fly by sophomore Andrew Barry (Puyallup, Wash.).
Murray remained in the game for a scoreless seventh inning before Ahmed took over on the mound in the top of the eighth with score still tied at 3-3. Ahmed struck out two of the four batters he faced before Holy Cross gave him the run support he needed in the bottom half of the eighth. Three runs came across for the Crusaders in the inning as Wadsworth and junior Jordan Enos (Stockton, Calif.) collected RBI singles. Enos, who came into the game as a pinch hitter, notched the go-ahead hit, singling to right center to score Ahmed. Pinch runner, freshman Jack St. Clair (Newton, Mass.) scored the final run for Holy Cross in the inning on a wild pitch as the Crusaders moved ahead 6-3.
Colella came in to pitch the top of the ninth with the three-run advantage, striking out one and allowing two hits before getting the final batter to hit into a double play. With the final out, Holy Cross won game two by the final 6-3 tally.
Ahmed earned the winning decision, improving to 2-1 on the season. He threw one full shutout inning, striking out two Black Knights. Army's reliever, Ken Jackson, picked up the loss and drops to 1-2 overall. He pitched 1.1 innings, allowing three hits but no earned runs. Colella tallied his 10th save of the season in the outing. In all, Holy Cross scored six runs on 10 hits, committing one error while the Black Knights scored three runs on eight hits, committing one error.
The Crusaders wrap up regular season action with a final doubleheader against Army tomorrow, April 29. First pitch of game one is set for 12:00 p.m. at Fitton Field in Worcester, Mass. The 1952 National Championship team will be honored prior to the game.