Baseball Falls To Army, 8-4, In Patriot League Championship Game
WEST POINT, N.Y. – It took two days to complete game three due to weather restrictions and the No. 2 seed Holy Cross baseball team couldn't find the rally it needed, losing to the No. 1 seed Army in the final game of the Patriot League Championship series, 8-4, at Doubleday Field. With the day's decision, the Crusaders finish their season at 33-22 overall while Army wins its sixth Patriot League Championship and goes to 41-13. Sophomores Brandon Cipolla (Abington, Mass.) and Mike Ahmed (East Longmeadow, Mass.) along with junior Jordan Enos (Stockton, Calif.) earned Patriot League All-Tournament team honors.
Cipolla and Ahmed combined for two big hits in the top of the third, with Ahmed drawing a two-out RBI single to boost the Crusaders to an early 1-0 lead. The Black Knights rallied back for two runs in the bottom half of the third, scoring on two RBI singles to take a 2-1 lead. Junior Patrick Puentes (East Greenbush, N.Y.) tied the ball game right back up, 2-2, in the first at-bat of the top of the fourth, sending out his first-ever postseason home run to far right field. Army threatened to score in the bottom half of the fourth but a big strikeout from junior starter Tom Marra (Sea Cliff, N.Y.), his fourth in the game, ended the attempt.
The Crusaders took back a one-run edge, 3-2, as a RBI play at first by Ahmed sent Cipolla home, who doubled to lead off. Senior Steve Tkowski (Bourne, Mass.) then came up with a RBI single directly down the left field line to send home Enos in the top of the sixth to give the Crusaders a two-run cushion, 4-2. No lead proved to be safe as Army came back to score two runs on two hits in the bottom half of the sixth, chasing Marra from the start and tying things back up, 4-4. Rain forced the game to be halted in the top of the seventh for the day as the team's returned to the field on Tuesday.
After Holy Cross went scoreless in the top of the seventh, Army loaded the bases on two singles and an intentional walk before sending the go-ahead run home on a sacrifice fly. The Crusaders worked through three pitchers in the inning as freshman Donny Murray (Walpole, Mass.) gave up the two singles before senior Nate Koneski (North Dighton, Mass.) faced two batters, giving up the sacrifice fly. Junior John Colella (Herndon, Va.) came in with two outs and let up a three-run home run on his second pitch thrown as JT Watkins went deep to give Army an 8-4 advantage. The teams played a scoreless eighth inning as the Crusaders had one last chance to rally back in the top of the ninth. A walk and a hits batsmen put runners in scoring position with two outs, but a final play at third ended the attempt as the Crusaders dropped the final game of the championship series, 8-4.
Murray finished with the loss, finishing his rookie season with a record of 4-1. He pitched one third of an inning and gave up the go-ahead run. Army's second pitcher used, Gunnar Carroll, picked up the winning decision and goes to a record of 2-0. He pitched the last three innings and did not allow one hit. In all, Holy Cross scored four runs on six hits and committed two errors while Army scored eight runs on 12 hits committing one error.
With the day's result, the Holy Cross baseball team has completed the 2012 season. The team's 33 wins are a program-best while the squad's 13 wins in Patriot League play were also a team-best. Army will now play in the NCAA baseball regionals, starting June 1.