Patrick Wareham ’20
The Holy Cross Baseball team opened its 2019 season with four games down in Waco, Texas, last weekend, facing off against a Baylor team that is ranked fifteenth in the country. The Crusaders suffered a four game sweep, struggling to keep up with the high-powered bats the Bears showcased all weekend long. Despite the results against one of the country’s top clubs, the Crusaders are blooming with promise this season and will be looking to surprise some teams as they continue their trip down south, with a series this weekend against UAB followed by a stretch of games in Louisiana over spring break, highlighted by a showdown with No. 2 LSU.
Looking beyond the next few weeks, the Crusaders are aimed at making a run for another Patriot League title (the team won the Patriot League Tournament and earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament in 2017). Led by a pair of Preseason All-League picks Chris Rinaldi and Austin Masel, both of whom hit well over .300 last season, Holy Cross was picked to finish third in the league by a team of writers at College Baseball Daily. The team features a veteran lineup, and has a particularly strong rotation, fronted by senior starting pitchers Pat McGowan and Declan Cronin. The Crusaders will certainly miss Danny Barlok, who will be out for the year due to Tommy John surgery. In his junior campaign, Barlok posted an incredible 1.72 ERA last season, which led the nation for a stretch. He will sit out this year and play next year for Wake Forest as a graduate transfer. The team will look for production out of junior Zane Hedaya and sophomore Liam Dvorak, who posted a 3.40 ERA in a reliever role last year.
The Crusaders aim to improve last season’s fourth place finish in the league, having gone just 11-14 in Patriot League play. The league favorite is undoubtedly Army, coming off a dominant 2018 season by going 18-7 in league play and 37-24 overall, and highlighted by big wins over large-conference schools such as Michigan, Maryland, and NC State. The Black Knights will return most of their lineup, and their starting rotation features several senior veterans. The other team picked to finish ahead of Holy Cross was Navy, who also finished a strong 18-7 in the league. However, they have lost multiple bats in the middle of the lineup, and are in a more vulnerable position than Army.
Rounding out the Patriot League Preseason poll behind Holy Cross are Bucknell, Lehigh, and Lafayette, respectively. While Army has established itself as the favorite in the league, Holy Cross looks to gain some momentum early in the non-conference schedule. If the 2016-17 is any indicator (HC defeated USC, UC Riverside, and UMass), key wins early on may yield success in league play and beyond.