Passing The Torch
A legacy of pride and success in Falmouth.
By Emily Correia
Special to GoHolyCross.com
"Having the opportunity to play in the Cape Cod Baseball League has truly been a dream come true for me. Since my sophomore year of high school, I had set a goal for myself to pitch in the Cape after my sophomore year of college. To succeed in fulfilling that goal has meant so much to me," reflected rising junior Donny Murray (Walpole, Mass.).
The league has provided more than 120 years of success to players from all across the country, but in the last 11 years the CCBL made an impact closer to home for the Holy Cross community, especially in Falmouth. Current Crusader head coach Greg DiCenzo served as the Commodore pitching coach between 2002 and 2005 before arriving at Holy Cross.
Over the last five summers, the Crusaders have featured a pitcher on the Commodores roster for at least a part of every summer. More impressively, the three consecutive pitchers were each assigned to each other as a mentor/mentee upon entering college, starting with 2012 graduate Nate Koneski and 2013 graduate John Colella and extending the lineage to rising junior Murray. Colella reflects that "Nate was assigned my mentor by Coach D before I got on campus as a freshman but I had no idea how beneficial that relationship would be." Koneski and Colella encouraged and pushed each other for two years before Murray joined the team as a freshman in the fall of 2011 and immediately became part of their mini-family.
"At the start my freshman year at Holy Cross, I was matched with a mentor, John Colella, and in turn, his mentor as well, Nate Koneski," remarked Murray. Aptly, the three each have followed one another through both the Crusader and Commodore systems. "I like to hopefully think that with Nate setting a great example for me, I've done the same with Donny," expressed Colella. "His presence in Falmouth as a sophomore is a testament to his hard work and the development that our coaching staff affords our players. Nate and myself are definitely proud to see how far he's come in two short years." Koneski noted that "seeing the other guys from HC that have played in Falmouth after me means a lot to me. It's an honor to get a chance to play in the Cape for all the college baseball players who get a shot. To see John and now Donny in Falmouth is great. I'm proud of all they were able to accomplish to get there and do when they were there." DiCenzo agreed with Koneski that his players "having the opportunity to play in Falmouth, where I happened to spend the best four summers of my life, means an incredible amount to me."
DiCenzo paved the way for the three pitchers to join the Commodore community. "Coach D is still very well remembered in Falmouth," mentioned Colella. "Fans would constantly come up to me and talk about their favorite Coach D story from his time as the Falmouth pitching coach, and always had positive things to say about his time there." Koneski echoed that "Coach D's connections with the Cape as the former Falmouth pitching coach are the sole reason I got my chance in the Cape. I owe Coach D a lot for getting me that opportunity which has in turn helped me reach the professional level." Koneski led the pack of players beginning in the summer of 2009. "Knowing Nate's ability and seeing the success he had in his 2+ years there and his assurances that I would be successful in the Cape league definitely gave me a lot of confidence heading into the summer," Colella believed. Following his mentors Koneski and Colella, Murray joined the team in the summer of 2013. "Both Nate and John pitched in the Cape League, playing alongside the best college baseball talent in the entire country," Murray continued. "I constantly picked their brains about both the physical and mental aspects of pitching. To be pitching right now for the same team that two of my best friends played for really means a lot to me, especially because I am continuing the legacy of Holy Cross baseball players who have played in the Cape League."
Since DiCenzo joined the Crusaders in 2007, he holds a 154-151-1 record. He has coached eight players who have signed professional contracts, including five players currently rostered on minor league teams. In 2012, following his senior season, Koneski was drafted in the 19th round by the Seattle Mariners. He finished his collegiate career with a 17-13 record and a 2.43 ERA through a Holy Cross record 249.1 innings pitched. He boasted a less than 1.00 ERA in his career in Falmouth. Koneski is currently playing in the Mariners' farm system for the Class A Short-Season Everett Aquasox. Joining him in the minor leagues, Colella was picked up after the draft by the independent Frontier League's Southern Illinois Miners. Colella graduated the single-season and all-time career saves leader at Holy Cross with 11 and 28 respectively after earning the Patriot League's Pitcher of the Year in 2013. He graduated with a 3.66 ERA through 167.0 innings pitched and currently holds a 0.73 ERA through his 12.1 professional innings. During his season in Falmouth, Colella posted a 2.16 ERA. Murray, the third in line, finished his sophomore season leading the starting pitchers in ERA. He holds a 3.80 ERA through his collegiate career and an 11-4 record. This summer in Falmouth, Murray has posted a 2.89 ERA over 18.2 innings pitched. Each experienced success both at Holy Cross and in Falmouth.
All four also mentioned another person who impacted their lives substantially, current Commodore head coach Jeff Trundy. "We recognize that the opportunity to play in Falmouth is a blessing, and we are very grateful to Coach D and Coach Trundy for believing in us," noted Colella. Mirroring Colella's sentiments, Murray stated "Coach D is still very good friends with Coach Trundy, who he coached with in Falmouth for years. Coach D told me how great it would be playing under Coach Trundy, and he was absolutely right. Coach Trundy has been such a great coach." Trundy is in his 19th season with the league and 15th with the Commodores. Koneski remembers that "all the coaches in Falmouth were great to me when I was in the Cape and I'll never forget my time there."
Koneski, Colella, Murray and DiCenzo all believe that they learned a significant amount in Falmouth from the coaches and the other players. "I cannot say enough great things about my experiences in Falmouth and I hope that each of these players are able to build their own lasting memories down there," DiCenzo reiterated. This experience from coach to player, or mentor to mentee has instilled a bond between the four members of the community that they can each hold dear to them. Murray recognized this link between himself and the other three members of the Crusader family, but also with the rest of the CCBL community saying "I fully understand that I am joining such a prestigious group of guys who have coached and played here before me."