BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Senior southpaw Nate Koneski (North Dighton, Mass.) struck out seven batters and earned the win on the mound as the Holy Cross baseball team picked up two big victories against Patriot League opponent Lehigh at Goodman Campus. The Crusaders won the pitching duel in game one, 3-1 and then broke out for a 16-5 victory in game two. With the decisions, the squad moves to 26-17 (11-5 PL) while the Mountain Hawks go to 16-29-1 (4-12 PL). Senior Steve Tkowski (Bourne, Mass.) boosted Holy Cross offensively on the day, putting together a team-best four RBI, including three from a home run, and five hits.
Senior Chris Sintetos (Bethesda, Md.) put Holy Cross up by a 2-0 score in the top of the first, tripling for the first time this season to send home juniors Patrick Puentes (East Greenbush, N.Y.) and Alex Maldonado (Brooklyn, N.Y.). Maldonado made it a 3-0 game in the top of the second, scoring sophomore Brandon Cipolla (Abington, Mass.) who doubled to lead off the inning. Lehigh pulled within one run, 3-1, in the bottom half of the second, tallying two hits off Koneski, including a RBI single.
Tkowski registered the Crusaders only hit in the third and fourth innings, picking up a single. Lehigh threatened in the bottom of the fourth, but two crucial strikeouts by Koneski kept the Mountain Hawks scoreless. Each team scattered two hits in the fifth and sixth innings but the pitchers continued to work out of jams. Lehigh put on two base runners in the bottom of the seventh before junior John Colella (Herndon, Va.) took over pitching duties for Koneski. After allowing a walk, Colella caught a runner stealing for the second out before the Crusaders defense finished with a ground out, keeping the Lehigh runners at bay to end the game. With the final out, Holy Cross finished ahead by the final 3-1 tally.
Koneski pitched 6.1 strong innings and earned the win, improving to 5-2 overall. He allowed one run on eight hits and struck out seven batters. Colella, who pitched the final two outs, tallied the save, his ninth of the season. Lehigh's starter, Thomas O'Malley, pitched one full inning and took the loss, dropping to 1-1. He allowed two runs on one hit and struck out one. In all, Holy Cross scored three runs on six hits and committed one error while the Mountain Hawks scored one run on eight hits.
The teams played to a 1-1 tie after the first inning as Ahmed homered for a team-leading fifth time this season. Colella, who earned the start for the first time this season, allowed one run on two hits in the bottom half of the first. Four runs propelled Holy Cross to a 5-1 lead after the second inning as Cipolla, freshman Evan Ocello (Camarillo, Calif.), Ahmed and Maldonado earned RBI plays in the outing. A Puentes home run in the top of the third kept the Crusaders offense going as the team went ahead 6-1. Sophomore Andrew Barry (Puyallup, Wash.) stole home in the top of the fourth while Puentes added a RBI single to score Maldonado for two more Crusader runs before Lehigh scored on a Colella wild pitch in the bottom of the fourth to make it an 8-2 game.
Tkowski led the team to four more runs in the top of the fifth, earning a RBI double as Ahmed and Puentes also combined for RBI plays, with Puentes tallying his third RBI hit in the game. Up 12-2, junior Andrew Boyce (Avon, Conn.) relieved Colella in the bottom of the fifth, allowing one hit and striking out one. Holy Cross scored for the sixth straight inning in the top of the sixth to stay ahead 13-2 as Cipolla collected the Crusaders' third home run of the day. After Lehigh went scoreless in the bottom of the sixth, Tkowski knocked out a three-run home run in the top of the seventh to finish the Crusaders' offensive push on the day, notching the score at 16-2. Lehigh put together its own offense in the bottom of the eighth, scoring three runs on three hits, but did not score again in the game as Holy Cross finished ahead 16-5. Freshman Ryan Filipowicz (Yardley, Pa.) pitched the ninth for the Crusaders, allowing one hit and struck out one.
Colella earned the winning decision, improving to 4-1 on the season. He threw four full innings, allowing two runs on five hits and struck out two. Lehigh's starter, Rene Tato, picked up the loss and drops to 1-2 overall. He pitched one full inning, allowing four runs on five hits. In all, Holy Cross scored 16 runs on 19 hits, committing two errors while the Mountain Hawks scored five runs on 13 hits.
The Crusaders compete against their final Ivy League opponent of the season, Yale, on Tuesday, April 24. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m. at Yale Field in New Haven, Conn.