Baseball Set To Host Navy In 2012 Patriot League Semifinals
GAME DAY QUICK FACTS:
The Teams: No. 2 Holy Cross (30-20, 13-7 PL) vs. No. 3 Navy (23-27, 9-11 PL)
Date: May 12-13, 2012
Time: 2:00/5:00 p.m. Saturday & 1:00 p.m. Sunday, if necessary
Place: Fitton Field Worcester, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Paul Pearl, color; Listen Here
Live Video Streaming: Patriot League All-Access, Watch Here
Series Record: Navy leads, 49-27
CRUSADERS MAKE FOURTH TOURNAMENT IN FIVE YEARS: The Holy Cross baseball team is making its fourth appearance over a five year span in the Patriot League tournament, marking the sixth time in school history. The Crusaders are turning postseason play in to a habit as they look to advance to the championship round of the tournament for the second time in program history this weekend. Second-seeded Holy Cross will host No. 3 seed Navy for a best-of-three series starting Saturday, May 12 at 2:00 p.m. If necessary, a third game is scheduled for Sunday, May 13, starting at 1:00 p.m. Should Holy Cross win its series with Navy, it will face the winner of the Army-Lafayette match-up in a best-of-three series on May 19-20.The series would be played in Worcester, Mass., if the Crusaders face the No. 4 seed Lafayette, or in West Point, N.Y., if Holy Cross plays top-seeded Army. Holy Cross has never played as the No. 2 seed as this is the first time in program history the squad will host the semifinal round. Navy will play as the No. 3 seed for the third time since the Patriot League tournament began.
RECORD SETTERS: The Crusaders wrapped up the regular season with a record of 30-20 including 13 wins and seven losses in the Patriot League. The team's 30 total victories ties the program's highest number of wins, set back in 1921 while the 13 conference wins are a program-best. The .650 winning percentage in the league is the best since the Crusaders went 11-4 (.733) in 1991. The squad also finished with a overall winning record for the just the second time since 1991 and for the second consecutive season.
THE DICENZO ERA: This will also be the fourth time head coach Greg DiCenzo has led his team to the conference tournament in his five-year tenure. DiCenzo currently holds a 123-124-1 overall record at the helm of the program while collecting 54 wins and 44 losses in Patriot League contests. On March 18, DiCenzo collected his 100th victory as the Crusaders head coach as the squad put together a 4-3 win over Albany. He was named Patriot League Coach of the Year in his first season (2008) as his squad qualified for the Patriot League Tournament for the first time since 2001. Making the tournament has become a regular occurrence, with the Crusaders marking a 5-6 record in postseason play under his guidance. This year's team looks to win the championship for the first time in program history. DiCenzo has also had three players earn major awards by the Patriot League since his arrival. Former standout Matt Perry was named the 2009 Patriot League Player of the Year, while Matt Shapiro was named Patriot League Pitcher of the Year in 2008. Most recently, current junior Stephen Wadsworth (Wayland, Mass.) was named the 2010 Patriot League Rookie of the Year. A total of 21 players have been named to the All-Patriot League teams since DiCenzo's arrival, including a program-best seven selections this season.
SEVEN CRUSADERS NAMED TO ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE SQUADS: As voted on by the Patriot League head coaches,Holy Cross' seven league selections tied with Army for the most number of players named to All-Patriot League teams. The seven honors earned are also the most All-Patriot League nods in program history. Five players, including senior Nate Koneski (North Dighton, Mass.), juniors John Colella (Herndon, Va.), Alex Maldonado (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Patrick Puentes (East Greenbush, N.Y.), along with sophomore Mike Ahmed (East Longmeadow, Mass.) were named to the first team while two players, junior Jordan Enos (Stockton, Calif.) and sophomore Brandon Cipolla (Abington, Mass.) picked up second team honors. Koneski is the only repeat award winner as he earned first team accolades as a sophomore.
LEADING FROM THE BUMP: Holy Cross pitchers are combining to post a 4.11 ERA this season, ranking second in the league behind Army's 3.15 ERA. The 4.11 ERA is the lowest by a Crusader pitching staff since 1991, when the squad posted a league-best 3.63 earned run average. In all, Holy Cross has allowed just 395 hits this season as the team ranks 53rd nationally in hits allowed per nine innings. Nate Koneski and John Colella are the team's top hurlers as Colella leads the team with a 2.28 ERA while Koneski follows closely behind with a 2.36 ERA. Koneski leads all starting pitchers in that category, while also ranking third in the league.
FIELDING DREAMS: Defensively, the Crusaders are not missing too many beats. The squad's combined .972 fielding percentage is the league's second highest while it also ranks 56th nationally. The percentage is also on track to break a program record, as the squad posted a .966 fielding percentage in 1955. Jordan Enos, who did not play at first base until this season, leads all infielders with a .984 fielding percentage, committing just five errors and leading the squad with 292 put outs. Brandon Cipolla, the team's starting centerfielder, leads the outfield with 119 put outs and has not made one error this season. In all, the Holy Cross outfield has committed just one error while the team has made 50 errors total, compared to 72 errors by their opponents.
CLOSING TIME: Junior right-handed pitcher John Colella has left his mark on the Holy Cross baseball program in all of his efforts this season. Colella, the team's go-to closer, was chosen as a first-team All-Patriot League honoree after boasting a league-high 10 saves this season. His 10 saves are a Holy Cross single season record, as he broke his own record of nine saves from last season. The 10 saves rank 22nd nationally and are nine behind the nation's top closer, Michael Wagner of San Diego. The righty broke the Holy Cross career saves record back on March 31 against Bucknell as he now has 19 saves in his career. He also ranks fourth all-time in Patriot League career records for saves and needs nine to break it. Colella also leads the team with a 2.28 ERA and 25 appearances. His 45 strikeouts rank second on the squad as he was named the team MVP after the end of April.
K'EM KONESKI: Senior Nate Koneski is making a statement in his final season on the Holy Cross baseball team. The southpaw rebounded back from a subpar junior season and currently leads the team and Patriot League with 71 strikeouts, tallying a career-best. His 71 strikeouts rank ninth on the program's single season record list as he now has 216 career strikeouts, ranking second all-time in Holy Cross baseball history. Nationally, Koneski ranks 25th out of 250 ranked in strikeouts per nine innings. His 6-2 record is a team-best as his six wins rank third in the conference. He also posts a 2.36 ERA in 11 starts, ranking third in the league, and has pitched one shutout and two complete games. A first-team All-Patriot League selection, Koneski also earned the team's first-ever Perry-Colon award, given to the team's top pitcher and was named Patriot League Pitcher of the Week on April 30.
MALDONADO SPEEDS THINGS UP: Junior Alex Maldonado racked in his first career All-Patriot League honor this season and did so in style as he was named to the first team for the shortstop position. The third-year speedster added his name to the list of team accomplishments as he broke the Holy Cross career record for stolen bases on April 28 against Army. Maldonado has 14 steals this season, ranking in a tie for third in the conference and now has 44 in his career, breaking the 42 career steals achieved by former standout Michael Neary from 1989-1992. His 14 steals this season rank sixth on the program's single-season records list while his 17 steals from last season rank third. The shortstop was also named to the national Brooks Wallace Award watch list, given annually to the top division one collegiate shortstop. Maldonado has started in all 50 games for the Crusaders this season and leads the defense with 139 assists. At the plate, Maldonado bats .303 with a team-best 59 hits. His 59 hits are tied for fourth in the league as well.
TWO-WAY AHMED: Sophomore Mike Ahmed boosted the Holy Cross baseball team not only at third base this season, but also on the mound. The local-product was named to the first team All-Patriot League for the first time in his career and earned Patriot League Player of the Week honors for the first time on April 30. Ahmed broke out in Patriot League play, as he led all players in runs scored (19), hits (28), home runs (4), doubles (7) and RBI (15) during conference competition. Overall, Ahmed led the league with seven home runs and ranked fourth with a .511 slugging percentage. His 38 total runs scored are a team-best and rank fourth in the league as well. Ahmed also spends quality time on the bump for the Crusaders as he has made 11 appearances in relief. He owns a 2-1 record, including his first career win against nationally-ranked Texas A&M. He also has two saves and holds a 3.52 ERA.
SINTETOS SHINES IN SENIOR SEASON: Senior captain Chris Sintetos (Bethesda, Md.) has made a major impact on the team in his final season. Sintetos, who came into 2012 with just 37 career starts has turned around to start in 41 games this season and has played in a career-high 45 games total. The designated hitter and leftfielder has climbed up the offensive charts this season as he leads the team with 29 RBI, ranking seventh-highest in the Patriot League. He's also totaled 28 runs scored and 39 hits, 11 coming as extra-base knocks. His entire offensive production has doubled his previous career bests as he had just 15 career RBI entering the season. Not only is Sintetos a factor at the plate for Holy Cross, but his leadership skills as captain have been a major influence on the talent of this year's Crusader squad. Go here to view a story on Chris Sintetos.
SCOUTING THE MIDS: Navy completed the 2012 regular season with a 23-27 overall record, marking nine wins and 11 losses in Patriot League play. After being picked first in the preseason Patriot League standings, the Mids are back in the hunt for their second-consecutive Patriot League title and seventh all-time as they took home the 2011 Patriot League baseball crown. Navy split its final Patriot League weekend series against sixth-place Lehigh and won six of its final eight league games to move into the No. 3 seed. The squad plays as the third-seed for the third time in program history. Three Mids were named to the All-Patriot League teams as outfielder Alex Azor earned first team accolades. Navy is led by head coach Paul Kostacopoulos in his seventh season at the helm of the Mids program. Coach Kostacaopoulos boasts a 19-8 all-time record when playing the Crusaders. Azor leads the Navy offense with a .340 batting average in 140 at-bats. Sophomore Preston Gainey is the team's top starter on the mound as he posts a 3.54 ERA in nine starts. The Crusaders took the regular season series, 3-1, and are currently on a one-game win streak. The Mids lead the all-time series against Holy Cross, 49-27.