WORCESTER, Mass. – Holy Cross junior third baseman Mike Ahmed (East Longmeadow, Mass.) combined to go 5-for-7 with four runs scored and an RBI, as the Crusaders swept Lehigh, 3-1 and 9-6, in a Patriot League baseball doubleheader on Saturday afternoon at Fitton Field. With the wins, Holy Cross evens its overall record to 20-20 and moves to 10-4 in conference play, while the Mountain Hawks slip to 18-22 on the season and 5-9 in the league.
In the first game of the twinbill, the Crusaders broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the second inning. Junior outfielder Brandon Cipolla (Abington, Mass.) led off the frame with a single to center field and moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ahmed. After a single by senior catcher Stephen Wadsworth (Wayland, Mass.) put runners on the corners, freshman infielder Nick Lovullo (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) plated Cipolla on a sacrifice-squeeze bunt to give the Crusaders the 1-0 lead.
Two innings later, Holy Cross added some insurance runs. Ahmed led off the frame with a double down the left-field line and scored during the next at bat as Wadsworth roped a two-bagger into left field to make the score 2-0. Wadsworth moved over to third on a groundout during the next at bat, as senior shortstop Alex Maldonado (Brooklyn, N.Y.) hit a sacrifice fly to score Wadsworth and give Holy Cross the 3-0 lead.
Lehigh was able to push a run across the plate in the top half of the fifth inning to cut the deficit to 3-1, but it could not get any closer as the Crusaders would go on to claim the victory.
Holy Cross senior starting pitcher Tom Marra (Sea Cliff, N.Y.) picked up his third consecutive victory (3-3) as he tossed six frames and allowed one earned run on seven hits, while striking out six batters. Marra saw his consecutive scoreless innings streak come to an end as he had pitched 21 straight innings without allowing a run. Crusaders senior pitcher John Colella (Herndon, Va.) earned his second save of the season as he tossed a scoreless seventh and had one strikeout. Lehigh pitcher Colin Gotzon was charged with the loss (5-4) as he surrendered three earned runs on nine hits.
Wadsworth and sophomore outfielder Evan Ocello (Camarillo, Calif.) each had multi-hit games for Holy Cross as the Crusaders held the slim 9-8 edge in hits.
In the second contest of the doubleheader, Lehigh wasted little time as it grabbed the early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Holy Cross, however, answered with a run in the bottom half of the frame as senior outfielder Patrick Puentes (East Greenbush, N.Y.) plated junior second baseman Andrew Barry (Puyallup, Wash.) on a double to make the score 1-1. The Mountain Hawks would break the stalemate during the top of the third to go on top 3-1, but again the Crusaders would rally to tie the score at 3-3 in the bottom of the fourth inning. Holy Cross scored the two runs on a fielder's choice by Wadsworth as Lehigh made an error in turning the double play, which allowed senior first baseman Jordan Enos (Stockton, Calif.) and Ahmed cross the plate.
Lehigh gained the lead back in the top of the fifth inning with a pair of runs to make the score 5-3, but the Crusaders rallied in the bottom half of the frame to grab the advantage from the Mountain Hawks. Puentes led off the fifth with an infield single and moved over to second on a base-knock up the middle by Ahmed. Cipolla then ripped a double into left field to plate Puentes and make the score 5-4. Wadsworth kept the rally going with a two-RBI double to left center, which gave the Crusaders its first lead of the contest at 6-5.
Holy Cross tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh as freshman catcher Connor Perry (Haverhill, Mass.) hit a sacrifice fly to plate Ahmed and make the score 7-5, but Lehigh struck for one run in the top half of the eighth inning to cut the deficit to 7-6. Holy Cross was able to put the game away in the bottom of the eighth as Enos and Ahmed had an RBI-double and RBI-single, respectively, to make the score its final, 9-6.
Crusaders senior pitcher Andrew Boyce (Avon, Conn.) picked up the win out of the bullpen (4-4), as he tossed 3.1 innings and allowed one earned run on four hits. Colella earned his second save of the day and third of the season with a scoreless 1.1 innings pitched, as he also had a trio of strikeouts. Lehigh starter Nick Cassell was charged with the loss (2-2), as he allowed six earned runs and 11 hits over 4.1 innings of work.
Ocello, Puentes, Enos, Ahmed and Cipolla each had multiple hits for the Crusaders as they outhit the Mountain Hawks 16-11 in game two.
Enos saw his 10-game hitting streak come to an end in the first game of the twinbill, but Ocello moved his reached-base streak to a team-best 21 games in a row. Ocello combined to go 5-for-8 with one run in the doubleheader and Wadsworth went 3-for-6 with one run and four RBIs.
Holy Cross returns to action on Sunday, April 21 when it will conclude the season series with Lehigh with a twinbill beginning at 12:00 p.m.
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