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Holy Cross Baseball Grabs Big Wins on Spring Trip

Saturday, March 10, 2012

 

Junior shortstop Alex Maldonado.

Students at the College of the Holy Cross have been enjoying Spring Break over the last week, but the Crusader baseball team has spent the past few weeks working in warmer climates.

Holy Cross (3-5) has been on the road since their season began on February 24th in College Station, Texas, against Texas A&M. The Aggies are only one of several high-profile teams that Holy Cross has faced on this season opening road trip, and coach Greg DiCenzo thinks this experience is something his players will remember forever.

“The experience of big-time college baseball is great for these guys,” DiCenzo said. “To go into Texas A&M, Clemson and some of those other household-name type of programs, it’s something the guys will be able to talk about with their kids and grandkids. It’s a big deal.”

But it’s not about just playing these teams, Holy Cross has actually been able to notch a pair of marquee wins and show they are not to be taken lightly, even by the nation’s elite. In three games against the Aggies, Holy Cross twice took them to extra-innings, and handed No. 5 A&M its only defeat of the year in the series’ second game, winning 7-3.

Earlier this week, the Crusaders also managed to defeat perennial national contender Charlotte by a score of 5-1. DiCenzo says that these are the kinds of wins that can elevate a program.

“It’s impressive, for a non-scholarship program from the Northeast to go on the road and get some big wins over these great southern programs,” DiCenzo said. “We took Texas A&M to extra-innings, so we knew they weren’t going to take us lightly, and we were still able to win. That game and the Charlotte game are probably the two biggest wins we’ve had here since I became the coach five years ago.”

Several members of the Holy Cross baseball team take in the big-game atmosphere at Texas A&M's Blue Bell Park.

While there have been some impressive wins, there have also been some growing pains. The Crusaders have struggled with pitching consistency, giving up eight runs or more in four different games already. Outside of junior Chris Kono, who boats an impressive 1.50 ERA in two appearances, and senior Matt Croglio, Holy Cross is very slim in its pitching staff.

While pitching has been a bit of an adventure, DiCenzo is pleased with the contributions of several young players, both in the field and at the plate. Sophomore center fielder Brandon Cipolla has been solid defensively to go with a .296 batting average, and DiCenzo has been impressed with progress of freshman right fielder Evan Ocello in all facets of the game.

While Ocello is already among the team’s best hitters as a freshman, Holy Cross’ offense will again be powered by Alex Maldonado. The junior shortstop led Holy Cross in hits and runs a season ago, and is off to a hot start, batting .375 on the young season. Look for Chris Sintetos to provide power, as the senior already leads the team with seven RBI, despite only starting four games.

While picking up big wins and gaining momentum are important, DiCenzo says these early season trips are always crucial for team building. He also thinks his team wears the fact that they start every season on a long road trip as a badge of honor, and that it prepares them for difficult environments later in the year.

“We like playing at home, but I think our guys really take pride in playing well in someone else’s stadium,” DiCenzo said. “But it’s also a time for us to grow as a team and hang out a little bit. I think we really come together on the road. When we’re on the road, it’s all about baseball, no school, no girlfriends, just baseball.”

Holy Cross opens its home season in Worcester on March 24th against Columbia at 1 p.m. You can find the entire Crusader schedule here.
 

 

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