Feb. 25, 2008
By Michelle Bradley
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The Holy Cross baseball team has a new man in charge, two new assistant coaches, and a new outlook on what Holy Cross baseball is going to look like this season. First year head coach Greg DiCenzo has arrived with a mission to take the traditions of Holy Cross baseball to the next level with improvements in all aspects from their first practice in September to when the team takes the field for the last time in May.
With three new coaches on the Holy Cross staff this year, shaping a new vision of Crusader baseball began this past fall when the team played 10 intra-squad games as opposed to playing against other teams in the area.
"You play for a shorter amount of time but you're playing against each other so you're getting twice as much work in," said DiCenzo. "It's a real opportunity for the majority of us as new coaches to see who we are and how we compete."
One thing DiCenzo also made a point to do was to not look at any of the players' stats from last year. "I wanted to evaluate our players this fall on my own with my own two eyes and not have preconceived notions about anyone," said DiCenzo. "We took it from scratch like I had never seen any of these kids play before."
The Crusaders return 21 players for the '08 season, including seniors Brendan Akashian, Gil Gomez, Kyle Lister, Mike O'Brien, Mike Thater, and Tim Thran. Holy Cross also welcomes nine newcomers to the team.
"Something has to change in order for the program to head in the direction we want it to. Nobody wants it to change more than the guys that have been here the last three years," said DiCenzo.
Senior catcher Brendan Akashian is expected to pick up right where he left off as the Crusaders top returning player on both offense and defense, coming off a season in which started in all 35 games and finished first on the team in batting average (.330) and tied for first in triples (two), home runs (five) and RBIs (29).
"His leadership has been outstanding, he's very similar in nature and competitiveness to some of the best players I've had a chance to coach," said DiCenzo.
Named to the 2007 Patriot League All-League First Team, Akashian finished the regular season with the ninth highest batting average in the league (.330) while leading the Patriot League in on base percentage (.520) and was second in the league in slugging percentage (.566).
Senior first baseman Kyle Lister also returns to the Holy Cross lineup, after starting at first base in all 35 games last year. Lister finished the season ranked first in doubles with 11 while hitting .263 with 29 hits and two home runs. He also finished the season tied for first in RBI with 29.
The Crusaders' infield also looks to make a strong comeback with junior second baseman Jake Gorman returning for the 2008 season. Gorman, who appeared in 24 games and made 23 starts, hit .325 with 26 hits, four doubles, five home runs and 16 RBI. He finished second on the team in batting average (.325) and tied for first on the team for most home runs (five). Gorman also had three stolen bases.
Senior Gil Gomez returns as the veteran outfielder for Holy Cross after making 16 appearances and nine starts last year. Gomez had five hits, two doubles, one home run, five RBIs, and two stolen bases during the 2007 season.
The young arms of sophomore Bobby Holmes and junior Dan Seip will lead the Crusaders deep pitching staff of 13. Last season, Holmes received the 2007 Ron Soucie Award and appeared in five games, making three starts. He pitched 17.1 innings, gave up 9 runs on 18 hits, struck out 12 batters, and walked six. Appearing in 11 games and making seven starts, Seip pitched 41.2 innings, gave up 38 runs on 51 hits, struck out 21 and walked 20.
Senior pitchers Tim Thran, Matt O'Brien, and Mike Thater along with sophomores Ryan George, Matt Shapiro, Ryan Anderson, Tom Arrigg and Chris Blanchard also all return to the Crusaders' pitching staff.
Holy Cross kicks off the 2008 season against Stetson University March 1-2 and will then travel to Rollins College for a single game against the hosting team (March 3). While at Rollins, Holy Cross will play St. Joseph's (March 4), Georgetown and Rollins (March 5), St. Joseph's (March 6), Georgetown (March 7), and a game to be determined on March 8.
Holy Cross will host Assumption in a doubleheader for its' first play at Fitton Field of the season. The Crusaders will visit the University of Washington for two doubleheaders (March 15-16) and then head to Siena (March 19). The Crusaders play the next three games at home, facing LeMoyne (March 20), Quinnipiac (March 22), and Connecticut (March 25). Holy Cross will then travel to Boston College for a single game scheduled on March 26.
Holy Cross kicks off its Patriot League action when it travels to Lehigh (April 5-6) to play two doubleheaders. After traveling to Massachusetts (April 1), the Crusaders will return home to host Harvard (April 2) and a doubleheader with Army (April 5-6). Holy Cross will play home games against Northeastern (April 8) and Hartford (April 9) followed by a road trip to face Bucknell for four games (April 12-13).
The Crusaders will host Central Connecticut (April 15) followed by a non-conference game at Dartmouth (April 16). Holy Cross will continue its Patriot League play, hosting its final two doubleheaders against Lafayette (April 19-20). The Crusaders will play the next seven games on the road beginning with a doubleheader at Brown (April 23) and then to Navy for two doubleheaders (April 26-27), and finishing up the regular season with an away game at Rhode Island (April 29).