STARKVILLE, Miss. – Holy Cross senior outfielder Brandon Cipolla (Abington, Mass.) and freshman third baseman Anthony Critelli (Holmdel, N.J.) each combined to go 5-for-8 on the afternoon, as the Crusaders split a doubleheader, with No. 7 Mississippi State in non-conference baseball action on Saturday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field. The Bulldogs won the first contest, 8-4, while Holy Cross defeated Mississippi State, 7-6, in the second game of the twinbill. With the split, the Crusaders are now 1-2 on the season, while the Bulldogs advance their record to 4-3.
Mississippi State struck first in the contest with a run in the bottom of the first inning to gain the 1-0 lead. The Bulldogs added three more in the second frame to make the score 4-0, but the Crusaders rallied in the top half of the third inning. Crusader junior Evan Ocello (Camarillo, Calif.) singled to begin the inning and scored during the next at bat, as Cipolla blasted his first home run of the season over the left-field wall to cut the deficit in half, 4-2.
Holy Cross added another run in the top of the sixth, as Critelli drove home sophomore Connor Perry (Haverhill, Mass.) on an RBI-double to make the score 4-3. Mississippi State, however, added a pair of insurance runs in both the seventh and eighth innings to increase its lead to 8-3. The Crusaders tried to mount a comeback in the top of the ninth inning, as they pushed across a run to make the score 8-4, but could not get closer as the Bulldogs claimed the victory in the first game.
Crusader freshman starting pitcher Phil Reese (Frederick, Md.) was charged with the loss (0-1), as he tossed two innings and allowed three runs on four hits. Crusader junior reliever Ryan Filipowicz (Yardley, Pa.) pitched three scoreless innings of relief for Holy Cross. Mississippi State starter Trevor Fitts picked up the win (2-0), as he went 5.2 innings pitched and allowed two earned runs on seven hits, while fanning five batters.
Ocello batted 4-for-5 in the contest with a double, while Cipolla went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs on the home run. Mississippi State held the slim 11-10 edge in hits during the contest.
Holy Cross wasted no time and plated three runs in the top half of the first inning. Crusader junior Jack St. Clair (Newton, Mass.) got the frame going with an RBI-groundout to plate senior Andrew Barry (Puyallup, Wash.). Two batters later, Critelli drove in two on an infield single to score both Cipolla and Ocello to make the score 3-0. The Bulldogs, however, countered with two runs in the bottom of the first and one in the second frame to knot the score at 3-3 after two innings.
The Crusaders would get the lead back in the top of the third, as Cipolla began the inning with a double down the left-field line. Two batters later, sophomore Bobby Indeglia (North Kingstown, R.I.) scored Cipolla on an RBI-single to make the score 4-3. During the next at bat, Critelli laced a double down the line in left to plate Indeglia and give the Crusaders the 5-3 advantage. The Bulldogs got back into the game and grabbed the lead in the bottom of the fourth with a trio of scores to earn the 6-5 edge.
After three scoreless innings by both teams, Holy Cross rallied in the top half of the eighth to gain the lead. Critelli notched his fourth hit of the game with a single through the left side and moved over to second during the next at bat on a balk. Crusader freshman Jon Escobar (Inverness, Ill.) pinch ran for Critelli and scored two batters later on a sophomore Nick Lovullo (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) RBI-single to tie the game at 6-6. Holy Cross scored the go-ahead run on a RBI-single by Barry to plate freshman Bill Schlich (Massapequa, N.Y.) and give the Crusaders the 7-6 lead. Escobar came in to pitch the final two innings for Holy Cross and help them earn the 7-6 victory.
Crusader freshman relief pitcher Justin Finan (Barrington, R.I.) picked up his first collegiate victory (1-0), as he tossed three scoreless frames striking out a pair. Escobar also earned the first save of his career in the two scoreless innings of relief. Mississippi State pitcher John Marc Shelly was charged with the loss (0-1), as he allowed the go ahead run in the eighth inning.
Critelli went a perfect 4-for-4 in the second game with three RBIs, while Cipolla went 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Both teams had 10 hits apiece in the nightcap. Ocello combined to go 5-for-9 in both games with an RBI and two runs scored.
The Crusaders and Bulldogs will conclude their four-game series tomorrow, Sunday, Feb. 23, with a 1:00 p.m. first pitch.