May 8, 2008

Baseball To Face Navy In Patriot League Semifinals

May 8, 2008

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CRUSADERS CLINCH TOURNEY BERTH: The Holy Cross baseball team sealed a spot in the Patriot League Tournament, marking the third time the Crusaders will appear in the tournament since joining the league in 1990. The third-seeded Crusaders will play host No. 2 Navy in a best-of-three series with a doubleheader scheduled on Saturday, May 10. A third game is scheduled on Sunday, May 11, if necessary. If Holy Cross wins its series with Navy, it will face the winner of the Army-Bucknell series in a best-of-three series on May 17-18. The series would be played in Worcester if the Crusaders face Bucknell or in West Point, N.Y. if Holy Cross plays Army. Holy Cross will appear in the league tournament for the first time since 2001, looking to clinch its first Patriot League title.

DICENZO AND SHAPIRO RECEIVE PL MAJOR AWARDS: Sophomore pitcher Matt Shapiro (Raynham, Mass.) was named the 2008 Patriot League Baseball Pitcher of the Year. First year Holy Cross head coach Greg DiCenzo was also recognized by the league as he was named the 2008 Patriot League Coach of the Year. Shapiro led the Crusaders' success on the mound in league play as he went 3-1 with 1.78 ERA in five starts. In his five starts, he recorded three complete games, including two shutouts. In 30 and one third innings pitched in league play, Shapiro struck out 21 while giving up just eight walks. He finished the regular season at 4-1 with a 3.80 ERA in 12 appearances, including six starts. He pitched 42 and two thirds innings, striking out 28 while walking 13. Shapiro is the first Holy Cross pitcher to be recognized with this honor in school history. DiCenzo led Holy Cross to an 11-9 record in the league, clinching the third seed in the Patriot League Tournament and the Crusaders first appearance in the tournament since 2001. The win against Navy in the first game on Sunday, April 27, also earned the Crusaders their first 20-win season since 1980. He is only the second coach in school history to receive this honor, joining former head coach Paul Pearl who received the honor twice (1999, 2001) during his three years of coaching. DiCenzo also joins Pearl as being the only coaches in the league ever to receive the award during their first season of coaching.

TRIO EARNS ALL-LEAGUE HONORS: Three Holy Cross student-athletes were named to the Patriot League Baseball All-League teams. Senior catcher Brendan Akashian (Lowell, Mass.) and Shapiro were named to the Patriot League All-League first team. Senior outfielder Gil Gomez (Lake Worth, Fla.) was named to the second team. HC PICKS UP 20-WIN SEASON: With a 20-26 mark this year, Holy Cross earned its first 20-win season since 1980. The win against Navy in the first game on Sunday, April 27, secured the Crusaders' 20-win season, the 16th in school history.

CRUSADERS TAKE ON THE PATRIOT LEAGUE: Holy Cross had a successful year in league play, posting its first winning record in the Patriot League since 2001, when Holy Cross finished with an 11-9 record as well. The Crusaders started league play strong as they swept host Lehigh, split with No. 1 seed Army, took one from fourth-seeded Bucknell, went 3-for-4 against Lafayette, and grabbed one win from No. 2 Navy.

NAVY RECAP: Akashian led the Holy Cross offense during it's trip down to Annapolis, going 5-for-15 at the plate with four runs scored, three RBIs, and a double. Gomez went 5-for-14 with two runs scored, two RBIs and two doubles while junior outfielder Billy Cupelo (Franklin, Mass.) went 5-for-14 and had two RBIs and scored a run. Freshman first baseman Eric Oxford (Danvers, Mass.) also performed well at the plate, going 5-for-16 with five RBIs, two doubles, and two runs scored. Senior pitcher Matt O'Brien (Hingham, Mass.) picked up the lone win for Holy Cross in game one of the second doubleheader, scattering seven hits over five and one third innings and allowing five runs. Sophomore relief pitcher Ryan George (Seekonk, Mass.) finished up the remaining one and two thirds innings, striking out three without allowing a hit.

AKASHIAN, O'BRIEN, AND OXFORD PICK UP HC HONORS: Akashian was the recipient of The Hop Riopel Award, which is presented each year to the most valuable player of the Crusader baseball team. Akashian, who also won the Riopel Award last year, is batting .321 on the season, with three home runs and a team-best 30 runs batted in. He leads the Crusaders with a .460 on-base percentage, in addition to posting a .438 slugging percentage. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Akashian owns a .304 batting average with nine homers and 77 runs batted in. O'Brien received the The Dobens Award, which is presented to the most improved player on the Crusader baseball team. After throwing just 22 innings during his first three years at Holy Cross, O'Brien developed into one of the Crusaders' top starting pitchers this season. He has tossed 38 innings with eight starts in 2008, and ranks third on the team with 33 strikeouts. Oxford has been named the 2008 recipient of the Ron Soucie Award. Created by his former teammates Rick DeAngelis (Class of 1970) and Tom Kelly (Class of 1967), the Soucie Award is presented annually to the Rookie of the Year on the Holy Cross baseball team.

THE DICENZO FILE: First-year head coach Greg DiCenzo has certainly given the Holy Cross baseball program the change the team has been searching for after taking charge this year. The 2008 Patriot League Coach of the Year, DiCenzo led the Crusaders to its most successful season in regular season (20-26) since 1980 and league play (11-9) since 2001. He also led Holy Cross to its first league tournament appearance the 2001 season and third appearance overall.