BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Bullpen pitching faltered in two consecutive outings as the Holy Cross baseball team dropped two 4-3 decisions against Lehigh at Goodman Campus. With the losses, Holy Cross falls to a 22-21 overall record (9-9 Patriot League) while Lehigh moves to a record of 20-24 overall (11-7 Patriot League). The Crusaders must sweep tomorrow's doubleheader in order to be the No. 2 seed in the Patriot League Tournament. If Lehigh wins one game they will wrap up the No. 2 seed.
Holy Cross went ahead early, as junior Nick Ciardiello (Edison, N.J.) picked up his 50th RBI of the season, scoring junior Eric Oxford (Danvers, Mass.) on a groundout in the top of the second inning. Oxford would then increase the lead to 2-0 on a double in the top of the fourth inning, scoring senior Matt Perry (Sudbury, Mass.) who led off with a double. With the run scored, Perry becomes the Holy Cross single-season record holder with 45 on the season.
The team went up 3-0 the following inning as sophomore starter Nate Koneski (North Dighton, Mass.) held the Mountain Hawks to just four hits through the fifth inning. Senior John Sills (Milton, Mass) gave the team it's three-run advantage in the top of the fifth inning with an RBI single, scoring junior Jack Laurendeau (Sudbury, Mass.) who singled and then advanced into scoring position on a Lehigh error. The Mountain Hawks broke through for their first run in the bottom of the sixth inning, scoring on a single and making it a two-run game, 3-1.
Koneski was relieved in the bottom of the seventh inning by senior Ryan George (Seekonk, Mass.) as Lehigh put a man into scoring position and threatened to tie. With one out, George walked the two batters he faced to load the bases. He was then relieved by sophomore John Pedrotty (Portsmouth, R.I.) who allowed a double through as Lehigh tied the game 3-3. Pedrotty would continue to struggle, allowing a bases loaded walk through to give the Mountain Hawks the final 4-3 victory.
George drops to 2-3 on the season with the losing decision, allowing two walks and allowing the tying run to score. Lehigh's starter, Andre Berger, earned the winning decision, pitching the complete seven inning game. With the win, he improves to 5-1 on the season after allowing three runs on eight hits.
Laurendeau continued his hot-hitting as the team's leadoff man, homering for the seventh time this season in the first at-bat of the first inning to give Holy Cross an early 1-0 edge. Freshman Stephen Wadsworth (Wayland, Mass.) also continued his clutch hitting in Patriot League play, doubling to right center and scoring two runs in the same inning to put the Crusaders up 3-0 at the end of the first inning.
Lehigh pitching kept Holy Cross' bats quiet the rest of the way however, as the Crusaders went scoreless from the first inning on. The Mountain Hawks would begin a quiet comeback, making it a two-run game, 3-2, after collecting three runs on two hits in the bottom of the fourth inning. Lehigh then chased senior starter Bobby Holmes (Dedham, Mass.) out of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, tying the game at 3-3.
Reliever Chris Blanchard (Norwich, Mass.) would be the deciding factor, giving up a go-ahead home run in the bottom of the seventh inning, allowing Lehigh to win by the final score of 4-3. With the home run, Blanchard tallied the losing decision to fall to 3-2 on the season. He allowed one run on one hit in 3.2 innings pitched. Lehigh's Ken Longernecker nabbed the winning decision to improve to 6-2 on the season. He pitched seven solid innings, allowing the three runs on six hits. Cory Kent picked up the save, his seventh of the season.
On the day, Holy Cross scored six runs on 15 hits while leaving 15 base runners stranded. The Mountain Hawks scored eight runs on 14 hits, leaving 13 runners on base. Laurendeau finished the day going 5-for-8 at the plate to lead the team offensively. Perry followed closely behind with a 4-for-7 plate appearance. Both scored a team-high two runs on the day.
The Crusaders complete the final regular-season Patriot League series tomorrow, May 2 against Lehigh. The game's will be played on Saturday and Sunday, May 1 and 2. The doubleheader will begin at 12:00 p.m. at Goodman Campus.