WEST POINT, N.Y. – A two RBI day by junior Jordan Enos (Stockton, Calif.) was the piece of offense the No. 2 seed Holy Cross baseball team needed as the squad split the opening day of action with No. 1 seed Army in the Patriot League finals at Doubleday Field. The Crusaders lost game one, 4-0, and then won game two, 7-4. With the day's decisions, the Crusaders tally a 33-21 overall record while Army goes to 40-13. Because of the split, the Crusaders and Black Knights will play game three to determine the 2012 champion on Monday, May 21.
The teams played four scoreless innings as both put runners in scoring position but came up empty in the runs column. Army broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth as senior starter Nate Koneski (North Dighton, Mass.) hit two batsmen to put runners on first and second. Two steals led to runners on second and third as a sacrifice fly and bloop single scored the runs as the Black Knights went ahead 2-0. A two-run double by Army in the bottom of the sixth made it a 4-0 game as the Holy Cross offense could not find a way to connect.
Senior Matt Croglio (Fayetteville, N.Y.) replaced Koneski on the mound in the top of the seventh and pitched two scoreless innings as the Crusaders offense remained hitless against Army starter Logan Lee. Lee returned to pitch the top of the ninth as Holy Cross went down in order to fall by the final 4-0 score.
Koneski took the loss in the affair, dropping to 7-3 on the season. He pitched six full innings allowing four runs on seven hits and striking out five. Lee earned the winning decision, improving to 8-2 after retiring the final 11 Holy Cross batters. He shut the Crusaders out for nine full innings, allowing three hits and striking out two.
Army, playing as the designated away team in the second game, scored first, doubling and then scoring on a passed ball to take a 1-0 lead. Two long balls by Enos and sophomore Brandon Cipolla (Abington, Mass.) put the Crusaders up for the first time, 2-1, in the bottom of the fourth. Two singles and a sacrifice fly by Enos gave Holy Cross a two-run cushion, 3-1, in the bottom of the fifth but Army rallied back to tie the score at 3-3 in the top of the sixth, taking advantage of two defensive miscues by the Crusader defense. With two outs in the inning, junior John Colella (Herndon, Va.) replaced freshman starter Donny Murray (Walpole, Mass.) on the mound. Murray left with the no decision, pitching 5.2 innings and striking out a career-best six batters.
The Black Knights took back a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh on a RBI single. Senior Chris Sintetos (Bethesda, Md.) began another rally for the Crusaders, notching a RBI single and scoring junior Alex Maldonado (Brooklyn, N.Y.) before a throwing error allowed the squad to regain a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the seventh. Army threatened to score in the top of the eighth but a play at the plate ended the attempt as Holy Cross remained ahead 5-4. The Crusaders added a two-run cushion in the bottom half of the eighth, capitalizing on Army errors as Maldonado and pinch hitter Josh Olson (Woodbury, Minn.) tallied the RBI plays.
Colella earned the win in the game after pitching the final 3.1 innings and goes to 6-1. He allowed one run on two hits and struck out three. Army's reliever, Manny Fernandez, picked up the losing decision and goes to a record of 4-1. He picked up just one out, walked two and allowed one run.
On the day, Holy Cross scored seven runs on 13 hits and committed six errors. The Black Knights scored eight runs on 14 hits and committed three errors.
The Crusaders and Black Knights will now play in game three of the best-of-three series tomorrow, May 21. Game time is set for 12:00 p.m. at Doubleday Field in West Point, N.Y.