Strong Pitching Fuels HC Baseball’s Recent Success

Billy Fitzpatrick ‘20

Chief Sports Editor

After a difficult non-conference portion of the schedule in which the Crusaders struggled against top competition, the Holy Cross baseball team (7-22 overall, 4-3 Patriot League) has righted the ship during Patriot League play so far. Kicking off the conference schedule on March 24, the Crusaders split a doubleheader at home against Bucknell. The Bison took Game One 8-4 after shooting out to a 6-0 lead, with senior Pat McGowan taking the loss. Led by seven innings of two-run ball from senior Declan Cronin in relief, the Crusaders won Game Two 6-5 behind two RBIs from junior DH Riley Livingston.

The next day, Holy Cross again split a doubleheader, this time against Navy, to stay .500 in conference play after the opening weekend. The Crusaders dropped Game One 6-1, with all of the Midshipmen scoring coming in the first two innings and Holy Cross amassing just three hits in the contest. HC again responded in Game Two, shutting Navy out 4-0 behind eight gutsy innings from sophomore Liam Dvorak. An RBI double in the seventh from junior center fielder Austin Masel extended the Crusader lead to 2-0, and Masel later scored on a sacrifice bunt to add an insurance run. Dvorak was named Patriot League Pitcher of the Week for his eight-inning shutout (0 R, 7 H, 1 BB, 7 K).

After falling to Harvard in a midweek non-conference game, the Crusaders rebounded by taking two of three from Lehigh at home last weekend. Continuing a trend of the first two Patriot League series, the Crusaders dropped the first game of last Saturday’s doubleheader before responding in the second game with a win. Against Lehigh, Holy Cross held a 2-1 lead after four, but the Mountain Hawks scored two runs apiece in the fifth and sixth innings and fended off a sixth inning HC rally to win 5-3. Livingston went 2-3 and scored three runs in the first game. Cronin followed up his strong start from the previous weekend with seven innings of three-hit, no-run ball to go along with nine strikeouts and zero walks as HC won 4-1. The senior hurler allowed just one baserunner through seven innings – a single in the fourth that was nullified by a fantastic double play by sophomore shortstop Chris Rinaldi. Rinaldi recorded an RBI in bottom half of that frame to extend the HC lead to 2-0, and junior first baseman Alex Volpi drove in another run in the seventh. Cronin allowed two hits to start the eighth, but sophomore reliever Eric Lopes limited the damage as Lehigh mustered just one run after loading the bases with nobody out. Lopes recorded a 1-2-3 ninth to seal the victory in Game Two. Cronin was named Patriot League Pitcher of the Week for his gem, the second straight Crusader to win the award after Dvorak earned the honor the week prior.

On Sunday, Dvorak built on his strong outing from the previous weekend and his teammate Cronin’s domination a day earlier with another sterling performance by the sophomore. Dvorak allowed five baserunners (four hits and one walk) across seven innings, allowing two runs (neither of them earned) while striking out a career-best 10 batters. The Crusaders led 2-0 early after RBIs from Masel and first-year right fielder Ben Malgeri, but a Lehigh home run tied the game in the top of the fourth. In the bottom half of the frame, Volpi drove in Livingston with a single to go up 3-2. Sophomore left fielder David Kale drove in two by way of a bases-loaded single to extend the HC lead to 5-2. Another two-run homer by Lehigh in the eighth cut the Crusader lead to one, but Lopes came in relief to record a four-out save. Lopes’ two saves in the series were the first two of his career. Dvorak was named ckSmithSuperior Crusader of the Week for his 10-strikeout performance.

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