HC Baseball Splits Series with #7 Mississippi State, Defeats the 2013 College World Series Runner-U
Published: Friday, February 28, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 28, 2014 12:02
Coming off of a solid 28-25 season in 2013 that saw Holy Cross capture its first ever Patriot League regular season title, the Crusaders traveled to #7 Mississippi State this past weekend to begin their quest of completing their unfinished business of winning the Patriot League Championship Series and advancing to the NCAA Regional Tournament. Collegiate Baseball magazine projected Holy Cross to win the Patriot League in its preseason poll while the Patriot League Coaches Poll placed the Crusaders in third, behind the back-to-back champion Army Black Knights and the Navy Midshipmen. Additionally, junior outfielder Evan Ocello was named Patriot League Baseball Preseason Player of the Year with seniors Andrew Barry and Brandon Cipolla being named to the Preseason All-League team.
Opening the season in enemy territory against a Mississippi State team that fell to UCLA in the College World Series Final in 2013 and was nationally ranked in the top ten would provide an excellent opportunity for the Crusaders to see how they match up against the best.
On February 25, 2012, the Holy Cross baseball team upset #4 Texas A&M to jumpstart what would go on to be the winningest season in the rich history of Holy Cross baseball with 33 wins. Two years later, the Crusaders would again defeat a top ten team in the form of #7 Mississippi State. After falling in games one and two of the four game series by scores of 6-2 and 8-4, Holy Cross rebounded by capturing victories in games three and four by scores of 7-6 and 6-1.
While the Crusader bats were quiet in game one as the team recorded only four hits, Evan Ocello and Brandon Cipolla got things going in game two as they combined for seven hits. With renewed confidence in its ability to compete, Holy Cross came out on fire to start game three by scoring three runs in the first inning. Mississippi State battled back, taking a 6-5 lead into the eighth inning when the Crusaders put two runs across the plate to retake the lead. Two freshman pitchers for the Crusaders made huge contributions as Justin Finan picked up his first collegiate victory with three scoreless innings pitched, and Jon Escobar tossed a six-out save to close out the game and give Holy Cross its first win of the season. A dominant pitching performance in game four by junior Donny Murray allowed the Crusaders to earn a series split against the 2013 College World Series runner-up. Murray allowed only one run over seven innings and recorded four strikeouts. After scoring one run in the first inning, four runs in the fourth seemed to put the game out of reach.
The Crusaders return to action this weekend with a four game set at Charleston Southern as they continue their eighteen game road trip before the home opener on March 23rd against the Yale Bulldogs. Be sure to keep an eye on this team throughout the spring because if this past weekend is any indication, there are big things in store for Holy Cross baseball in 2014.