HC seniors ready for Patriot League finals.
Jordan Enos departed Army's damp Doubleday Field after the deciding game of last year's Patriot League championship series feeling bad about Holy Cross' 8-4 loss, but feeling worse for the team's senior class, which wouldn't get another chance at a title.
As disappointing as the defeat was, Enos, a junior last year, took some consolation in the fact that he and his 11 classmates would have one more opportunity at a PL crown this spring.
They seized it, and will have a rematch with Army in the Patriot League finals this weekend at Fitton Field. Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-three series will be played at 1 and 4 p.m. Sunday. If Game 3 is necessary, it will be played at 1 p.m. Monday. The winner receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
"As a senior, you can't go out any better way than winning a championship," said Enos, HC's star first baseman and cleanup hitter. "It would be the ultimate testament to our class and our coaches."
Enos and seniors Alex Maldonado, Josh Olson, Patrick Puentes, Tom Marra, Conor Moynihan of Worcester, Andrew Boyce, Josh Hauser, John Colella, Stephen Wadsworth, Chris Kono and George Petrotta are the heart, soul and spirit of the 2013 Crusaders. Their efforts helped HC rebound from a 2-13 start and capture the PL regular-season title. Holy Cross swept Bucknell, 9-6 and 3-0, in last weekend's PL semifinal series and will play in the finals for the third time in four years.
HC has never won a PL tourney title. The Crusaders' last NCAA appearance was in 1978.
"The guys have worked incredibly hard, and they deserve to be here," HC coach Greg DiCenzo said. "It's a senior-laden team that's been here three out of four years, and it's time for us to get over the hump. It really is. I couldn't thank these 12 seniors enough for what they've done for this program, and it's time. It's just time for them."
Holy Cross (28-22) won three out of four regular-season games at Army (27-21) in late April. The Black Knights beat Navy in their semifinal series.
In the two games against Bucknell, HC got solid pitching and timely hitting. Colella earned his seventh and eighth saves of the season, while sophomore Donny Murray threw 7-1/3 innings of three-hit ball in Game 2.
Not surprisingly, Puentes, HC's No. 3 batter, and Enos delivered some of the bigger hits and combined to drive in eight of the 12 HC runs over the two games.
"It seems like their number is always called when the game is on the line or when guys are in scoring position or when you need a big knock," DiCenzo said. "When you need a big hit in a big spot, it's always them."
Enos, the Patriot League Player of the Year who leads HC with a .341 average, drove in two runs in the first game, then knocked in Puentes with RBI singles in the first and third innings of Game 2.
Puentes went 5 for 8 with four RBIs and three runs in the two games. He's hitting .438 in HC's last 10 games.
"I'm going to get pitches to hit batting in front of Jordan," said Puentes, a two-time All-PL first-team selection, "and I take pride in getting on base for him and giving him RBI opportunities because you know he's going to come through. I feel like I'm coming around at the right time, and I'm seeing the ball really well right now."
The Crusaders have won six of seven and 12 of 15 heading into the finals.
The seniors, who will graduate May 24, have been part of teams that have won 111 games and have posted three straight winning seasons, something that hadn't been done at HC in three decades. They have left their mark on the program. Now, they are ready to make history.
"It's been a lot of work and a lot of fun," Puentes said. "We all feel like we deserve it, but we still have to go out and earn it."
Worcester area stars honored
Holy Cross won three of the four major awards as the third annual Worcester Area Baseball Team was announced.
Enos was named Player of the Year, Colella Pitcher of the Year and DiCenzo Coach of the Year. WPI freshman Alex Venditti was recognized as Rookie of the Year.
Joining Enos and Colella on the first team were Puentes, Murray, Mike Ahmed and Evan Ocello of Holy Cross, Justin Hyland and Kevin Wodatch of Anna Maria, Thomas Paine and Shane Keddy of Assumption, Zach George and Alex Teal of Worcester State, Tom Natoli of Becker, Andrew Leblanc of Clark, Pat Mercier of Fitchburg State and Shane Sampson of WPI.
Named to the second team were Venditti, DJ Ouellette and Taylor Landry of WPI, Dan Bradley and Cody Rocha of Assumption, Mike Marcello and Todd Tompkins of Becker, Michael Eglow and Derek Dubois of Clark, Andrew Barry and Brandon Cipolla of Holy Cross, Dylan Pond and John Boyd of Quinsigamond Community College, John Sullivan of Anna Maria, David Mason of Fitchburg State, Brady Boisvert of Nichols and Kurt Sabacinski of Worcester State.
Lifetime award for Togo
Former Holy Cross great Togo Palazzi is the recipient of this year's New England Basketball Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award. Palazzi, who was a member of the 1954 NIT championship team at HC and who was inducted to the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003, will receive the award at this year's induction ceremony and dinner June 22 at the DCU Center.
In addition to Palazzi, 13 other Holy Cross players and coaches are part of this year's New England Basketball Hall of Fame induction class.
Men's Division 1 Players: Bob Kissane, Jave Meade and Garry Witts; Men's Division 1 Coaches: Jack Donahue and Ralph Willard; Ronald S. Perry Category (individuals who have achieved distinction in two or more categories): Ernie Floyd, Jack Lahey and Michael Vicens; Men's Scholar-Athletes: Bill Doran and Peter O'Connor; Women's Division 1 Player: Kris (Shields) Lutz; Women's Division 2 Player: Ann McInerney (played at Assumption, current HC assistant coach); Women's Scholar-Athlete: Liz O'Connor.
Contact Jennifer Toland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CUTLINE: After celebrating a semifinal win over Bucknell on Saturday, Holy Cross gets a chance to win the Patriot League title this weekend.
PHOTOG: T&G Staff/PAUL KAPTEYN