WORCESTER, Mass. – Senior first baseman Eric Oxford (Danvers, Mass.) drove in five runs and made his first-ever appearance on the mound as the Holy Cross baseball team split a doubleheader with Lehigh, losing 6-3 and winning 10-2 at Fitton Field in the final game of the regular season. With the day's results, the Crusaders complete the 2011 season with a record of 24-23-1 (9-11 PL) while the Mountain Hawks move to 24-21 (8-12 PL). The Crusaders came up just short of their fourth bid into the Patriot League Tournament after losing game one but finish with an above .500 record for the first time since the 1991 season.
Lehigh scored twice in the first and once in the second inning, collecting a two-run home run and scoring on a wild pitch by junior starter Matt Croglio (Fayetteville, N.Y.) to take a 3-0 lead. Holy Cross found itself in a 5-0 hole as Lehigh scored two more runs on four hits in the top of the third, chasing Croglio from the mound. The Crusaders pulled within three runs in the bottom of the inning, 5-2, scoring two times on three hits, including a RBI single by Oxford. Oxford scored fellow senior Jack Laurendeau (Sudbury, Mass.) who also singled in the inning. Freshman Andrew Barry (Puyallup, Wash.) notched the third hit of the inning in the first at-bat and then scored on a throwing error by Lehigh's catcher.
Sophomore reliever Chris Kono (Greenwich, Conn.) held Lehigh to just two hits from the fourth through sixth innings as Holy Cross chipped away one run in the bottom of the sixth, scoring on a wild pitch. Lehigh knocked out its second home run of the day in the top of the seventh, however, going back up 6-3. The Crusaders were unable to find a way to come back in the bottom of the seventh, leaving two runners stranded to fall by the final 6-3 score.
Croglio falls to 2-5 on the season after picking up the losing decision. He allowed five runs on eight hits and struck out two batters in 2.1 innings pitched. Lehigh's starter, Luke Porter, earns his second winning decision of the season in his first start on the mound, improving to 2-0. He pitched 5.2 innings, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out seven. Lehigh's Cory Kent came in to close out the game, tallying his eighth save of the season. In all, Holy Cross scored three runs on seven hits, while the Mountain Hawks scored six runs on 11 hits, committing one error.
Freshman Nate Walker (San Diego, Calif.) earned the first start of his career against the Mountain Hawks in the final game, allowing one run on three hits in the top of the third after two scoreless innings as Lehigh went ahead 1-0. The Crusaders tied the score in the bottom of the third as Oxford notched a RBI groundout, scoring freshman Kyle Stearns (Orland Park, Ill.) who led the inning off with a single up the middle. Holy Cross then batted through the order in the bottom of the fourth, scoring six times on four hits as Oxford collected a two-run single along with a RBI single from sophomore Alex Maldonado (Brooklyn, N,Y.) and RBI walk by senior Brendan McCrea (Hicksville, N.Y.). Walker continued to cruise on the mound, getting Lehigh down in order over the fourth and fifth innings as the Crusaders added another run of support in the bottom of the fifth to go up 8-1, getting a RBI single from Laurendeau.
Lehigh got one run in the top of the sixth but sophomore Jordan Enos (Stockton, Calif.) put the Crusaders back up by seven runs, 9-2, on a RBI single, scoring Oxford on the play. Another run came across in the bottom of the seventh as Oxford collected his fourth RBI of the day on a groundout. Freshman Mike Ahmed (East Longmeadow, Mass.) replaced Walker with two outs in the seventh, getting the Crusaders out of a two-base runner jam and then struck out the side in the top of the eighth. Oxford would take over the mound for the first time in his career in the top of the ninth, striking out the first batter he saw and earning two other outs to shut down the Mountain Hawks as the Crusaders won, 10-2.
Walker collects his first career win, improving to 1-0 on the season after pitching 6.2 innings, allowing two runs on six hits and striking out a career-high five batters. Lehigh's starter, Jayme Edwards, takes home the loss, finishing with a 3-3 record on the season after allowing six runs (fiver earned) on seven hits in 3.1 innings pitched. In all, Holy Cross scored 10 runs on 13 hits while the Mountain Hawks scored two runs on nine hits, committing two errors.
Because of the earlier decisions in scores around the league, Holy Cross has now ended its season, just missing its fourth-straight bid to the Patriot League tournament.