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Holy Cross baseball preview: High hopes

With seven starters back, the Holy Cross baseball team is filled with potential. But that “doesn’t guarantee anything,” said Knights Coach Doug Manfredonia, who likens his team to professional prospects. Sometimes those players turn into studs. Other times, they’re duds.

“If four or five players pan out, then we’ll be in good shape,” Manfredonia said. “If only two pan out, we’ll be fighting for third or fourth in the division.”

Gone from last year’s team, which enjoyed a quick start but petered out in the playoffs, is ace Kevin Kilpatrick. The hard-throwing lefty was one of the top hurlers in the city, but is now at St. John’s, where he earned his first Big East start on Sunday against Villanova.

“It’s nice to have Kilpatrick, but as good as he was, he still lost three one-run games because we couldn’t scratch across any runs,” said Manfredonia, who doesn’t believe the 17-game regular season is long enough to truly determine the best teams.

Manfredonia returns a solid array of arms, including Andrew Mulvey, who “throws strikes, pitches hard enough and fields his position well,” according to Manfredonia, Michael McManus, Justin Tableman and Derek Lamacchia, who last year came out of the bullpen, but could be part of the Knights’ starting rotation this year.

“We’ve got high hopes for this team,” said Lamacchia, who will also play right field and first base when not on the mound. “Last year we had a lot of juniors on this team and now we really feel we need to step up this year and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Also returning for Holy Cross, which went 11-6 and finished in fourth place in Brooklyn/Queens last season, is catcher Matt Valle; center fielder Tom Monte, who was the team’s top stick in the fall; shortstop Mike Socci; left fielder A.J. Morena; and center fielder Giancarlo Santillo.

“He’s the wild card for us,” Manfredonia said of Santillo. “He’s really quick and is the ideal lead-off batter, but he’s a very streaky hitter.”

Although Xaverian, the defending CHSAA Class A intersectional champion, is the favorite to win the division, the rest of Brooklyn/Queens is up for grabs.

“I think we’re definitely going to contend for the top,” Manfredonia said. “I don’t think we’re going to be fighting for a playoff spot. We’re good enough to be in the mix.”

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