1999 Season

Crowley CAC Co-Player of the Year

Ben Crowley was named CAC co-Player of the Year for baseball. Crowley, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound P/OF/DH led the Cardinals in batting average (.411), hits (51), runs (31), RBI (29), doubles (9), triples (4), home runs (7) and slugging percentage (.718). He was 6-for-8 in stolen bases, struck out just eight times in 124 at-bats and was the only Cardinal to start all 35 games. The senior shared the award with Steve Oursler of St. Mary's (Md.).

Crowley, also a first-team All-CAC outfielder and second-team All-CAC pitcher, was 6-6 on the mound with a 4.30 ERA. He struck out a career-high 11 batters in a six-hit, 4-0 shutout over then-No. 26 Johns Hopkins on March 28 and averaged 7.65 strikeouts per nine innings.

Crowley won Catholic University's 1999 Harris Cup as the senior male athlete regarded as an outstanding leader, athlete and scholar. He hopes to play professionally in either the U.S. or Australia.

Drew Zachry (pictured) garnered second-team All-CAC DH honors. The 6-3, 210-pound junior P/OF/DH who bats and throws right, was the Cards' second-leading hitter with a .333 batting average. He also finished second behind Crowley in hits (42) and RBI (19), and was tied for third in runs with 18.

Zachry (4-5) paced the pitching staff with a 3.01 ERA and was second in strikeouts per nine innings (7.07). He pitched a 2-0 two-hitter against Mary Washington on March 27

Season Preview

Head Coach Ross Natoli anticipates that with several key players returning and a promising freshman class, prospects for the 1999 squad look bright. The team's strong work ethic, chemistry and dedication to succeed will hopefully provide the formula for a successful campaign.

"Leadership from the upperclassmen has challenged this team to strive for excellence," said Natoli, who has guided the Cardinals to four 20-plus win seasons in the past seven years. "If we respond to this challenge, stay healthy and our pitching staff realizes its potential, we should be in the hunt for the conference championship and postseason competition."

If top returnees Ben Crowley (4 wins, 54 innings, 48 Ks in 1998) and Drew Zachry (4.95 ERA, 72 innings, 50 Ks) perform up to expectations, they should anchor the staff and fill the void left by the graduation of Matt Christiano (6 wins, 4.55 ERA, 19 appearances). However, the remainder of the staff must develop quickly and perform consistently if the Cardinals expect to be competitive. Senior P/OF Tom Tessmer (2-2, 20 Ks, 28 innings) and sophomores Charles Snyder (2-0) and Tom Herber showed signs of promise in 1998. They should compete with improving freshmen Brandon Bowron, Doug Smith and two-sport athlete (football and baseball) Terry O'Rourke for the third and fourth starting pitcher spots and relief duty.

The Cardinals' catching corps will be anchored by senior Ryan Eades and junior Frank Massenzio. Eades, a strong receiver who handles the pitching staff well, hit .290 in 1998, including a season-ending game-winning home run against local rival Georgetown. Massenzio has a strong arm and looks to provide some punch to the Cardinal offense as well. Sophomores Harry Suber and Dan Gadbois have both shown significant improvement from 1998 and will solidify the catching position. They and freshman Chris Polito will battle Eades and Massenzio for playing time.

Senior 1B Jeff Allen leads a standout infield that is expected to be one of the Cardinals best since All-Conference SS John Douglas -- a Toronto Blue Jays draftee -- anchored the 1995 squad, which posted a 23-13-1 record. With a team-leading 30 RBI and a .989 fielding percentage in 1998, Allen looks to continue his consistency with the bat and the glove in '99. Rookie C/1B Chris Polito looks to contribute behind Allen this spring. Up the middle, sophomore Marc Marini (.298, 12 DPs, 7 SBs) moves from 2B to SS and looks to fill the shoes of graduated All-Conference SS Tom Ruggieri (.393, 22 RBI, .931 fielding percentage). At 2B, savvy sophomore Chris Kent, (.304, 3-of-4 SBs) should see significant playing time and form a solid double play combination with Marini. Both Marini and Kent will be challenged by versatile freshmen SS/2B Brian Pietryka and sure-handed 2B Eric Mack. At the hot corner, sophomore 3B Brian DiCiurcio looks to improve upon a solid freshman year (.270, .419 on-base percentage) and provide steady defense and a lively bat. Crowley and Zachry could see spot duty at third base along with switch-hitting freshman Ed Sanchez.

Crowley and Zachry will each play the outfield when not on the mound, and along with Jeff Allen, will form the heart of the Cardinals batting order. Both have strong arms and displayed consistent defense in 1998. Crowley (.364 , 3 HRs, 24 RBI, 34 runs, .905 fielding percentage) will look to improve on his numbers in '99. Zachry (.415, 3 HRs, 37 runs, 13 doubles, .600 slugging percentage) had 54 hits in 1998 to set the school's season hit record, breaking the mark of 52 by Brian Cashman '89, current general manager of the 1998 World Champion New York Yankees. Competition for the remaining outfield spots looks to be spirited. Senior CF Tom Tessmer (.315) will be challenged by fleet-footed sophomore Adam Harm and rangy freshman Mike Pomfret. In left field, sophomore Anthony Valach (.333), who has good speed and a steady glove, will be pushed by junior Shaun Foggo and promising freshmen John Tucker, Brendan Walsh and Sanchez.

Catholic's challenging spring schedule opens on Feb. 21 with Division I crosstown rival Georgetown which split a two-game series with the Cardinals in 1998. Next, the Cards host a rapidly improving St. Mary's (Md.) ballclub in their CAC opener. Over their annual spring-break trip in late February, the Cardinals fly south for nine days to Cocoa, Fla., to compete in the Cocoa Expo Collegiate Tournament. There they play nine games against several tough Division III opponents, including King's, Wilkes, Misericordia, Rochester Institute of Technology, St. Joseph's and Division II Clarion.

On March 7, the Cardinals return to Washington to host FDU-Madison, the first of 11 home games in March. Key games that month include CAC foes Salisbury State, York (Pa.) and Mary Washington, doubleheaders with Frostburg State and Wesley, a two-game series with Western Maryland and a battle with nationally ranked Johns Hopkins.

In April the Cardinals take on Gettysburg, St. Michael's (doubleheader), Division I Navy, Shenandoah and Messiah, and return games with Mary Washington, Salisbury, St. Mary's and Georgetown. Catholic hopes to peak for the CAC tournament in late April, the winner of which has received a bid to the NCAA tournament seven times in the past eight years.

"This year's challenging schedule, once again, includes several of the top programs in the country," Natoli said. "If we stay focused and respond, it should prepare us well for the CAC tournament and hopefully an opportunity for postseason play."

Results (15-18-2, 4-6 CAC)

Date Opponent Location Time Notable
Feb. 21 Georgetown (Div. I) A L, 11-1 Kent, Crowley, Zachry each 2-for-4
Feb. 24 St. Mary's (Md.) * H ppd. will be made up April 5
Feb. 27 Clarion (Div. II) Fla. L, 5-4 Crowley 3-for-4. Zachry 8 K's.
Feb. 27 Wilkes Fla. L, 5-3 Massenzio 2-for-3, 2 RBI
Feb. 28 King's (Pa.) Fla. W, 5-2 Crowley complete game, 9 K's
March 1 Misericordia Fla. W, 13-5 Crowley 3-for-5, 3 RBI,
400-foot home run
March 3 King's Fla. T, 2-2 Harm and Allen 2-for-4
March 3 Clarion (Div. II) Fla. W, 5-4 Zachry 11 K's in 8 IP
March 4 Rochester Tech Fla. W, 3-2 Crowley (2-1) five-hitter
March 5 Wilkes Fla. L, 4-3 DiCurcio 2-for-3, 3 RBI
March 7 FDU-Madison H ppd.  
March 9 Salisbury State * A L, 13-1 Crowley solo homer
March 10 Gallaudet * H ppd. will be made up April 8
March 13 York (Pa.) * A L, 2-1  
March 14 Frostburg State (DH) H ppd. will be made up May 1
March 17 York (Pa.) * H L, 3-0 Zachry complete game, seven K's
March 20 Wesley H W, 1-0 Crowley six-hitter, nine strikeouts
March 20 Wesley H L, 4-1 DiCurcio two doubles, two walks
March 22 Bowie State (Div. II) H W, 6-5 Zachry win in relief, 1-for-2, 3 RBI
March 25 Western Maryland A T, 3-3 Called after 11 innings.
March 27 Mary Washington * H W, 2-0 Zachry two-hitter, RBI;
Crowley 2-for-4, HR (No. 3)
March 28 Johns Hopkins H W, 4-0 Crowley complete-game
shutout, 11 Ks against No. 26 JHU
March 31 Western Maryland H W, 3-2 Crowley 2-for-3 solo
homer, Zachry win
April 1 Gettysburg H ppd. Makeup date TBA
April 3 St. Michael's H W, 9-2  
April 3 St. Michael's H W, 5-3  
April 5 St. Mary's (Md.) * H ppd. makeup of Feb. 24 game
April 6 St. Mary's (Md.) * H L, 12-5 Crowley 2-for-4, 3 RBI;
Tessmer 3-for-4.
April 7 Navy (Div. I) A L, 6-4 Crowley 2-for-3, 2 runs
April 8 Gallaudet * H W, 16-6 makeup of March 10 game
April 11 Mary Washington * A ppd.  
April 12 Gallaudet * A W, 5-4  
April 14 Salisbury State * H W, 7-6 Crowley (2-for-3, 2 RBI)
game-winning hit to score Pietryka
April 16 St. Mary's (Md.) * A L, 10-3 Crowley, Allen 1-for-3
April 18 Rutgers-Camden H ppd.  
April 19 Mary Washington * A L, 6-2 makeup of April 11 game
April 20 Shenandoah A L, 4-1 Smith 7.2 IP, 5 H allowed
April 22 Mary Washington # A W, 6-3 Zachry 2-for-4, 4 RBI; Crowley
complete-game win, 2 runs scored
April 24 St. Mary's # A. L, 7-2 7-inning game
April 28 Georgetown (Div. I) H L, 12-8 Zachry 3-for-4, 2B, RBI.
DiCiurcio 2-for-3
April 29 Messiah H L, 17-9 Crowley 3-for-5, HR, 3 RBI, 2 runs
May 1 Frostburg State H L, 5-4 DiCiurcio 2-for-2, 2 runs;
Harm 2-for-3
May 1 Frostburg State H L, 17-5 Crowley 2-for-2, 2 walks,
2 runs; Allen 2-for-3, RBI

* Conference games
# Conference tournament
Home games in bold


No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. B/T Yr. Hometown/High School
1 Marc Marini IF 5-8 165 R/R So. Monmouth, N.J./South Brunswick
2 Shaun Foggo OF 6-0 160 R/R Jr. Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha
3 Mike Pomfret OF 5-10 160 R/R Fr. East Hampton, Conn./Xavier
4 Eric Mack IF 5-9 140 R/R Fr. Virginia Beach, Va./Green Run
5 John Tucker OF 5-8 175 R/R Fr. Wyndmoor, Pa./La Salle
9 Anthony Valach OF 6-0 165 R/R So. Philadelphia, Pa./Holy Ghost Prep
10 Adam Harm OF 5-8 145 R/R So. Brick, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy
11 Ben Crowley P/OF 6-2 210 L/R Sr. Philadelphia, Pa./St. Joseph's Prep
12 Terence O'Rourke P/IF 6-1 190 R/R Fr. San Diego, Calif./La Jolla
14 Chris Kent IF 5-7 155 R/R So. Paramus, N.J./Bergan Catholic
15 Chris Polito IF/C 5-9 185 R/R Fr. Colts Neck, N.J./Red Bank Catholic
16 Ed Sanchez IF/P 5-10 165 S/R Fr. Silver Spring, Md./John F. Kennedy
17 Brian Pietryka IF 5-9 155 R/R Fr. Columbia, Md./Hammond
19 Brandon Bowron P 6-2 200 R/R Fr. Fairfax Station, Va./W.T. Woodson
20 Brian DiCiurcio IF 5-11 180 R/R So. East Norriton, Pa./Germantown Academy
21 Brendon Walsh OF/P 6-1 165 R/R Fr. Richboro, Pa./Holy Ghost Prep
22 Dan Gadbois C 5-11 175 R/R So. Bethlehem, Pa./Allentown Central Catholic
23 Harry Suber C 5-10 175 R/R So. Salisbury, Md./J.M. Bennett
24 Ryan Eades C 5-10 185 R/R Sr. Davidsonville, Md./South River
26 Drew Zachry P/OF 6-3 210 R/R Jr. Cheverly, Md./Eleanor Roosevelt
27 Tom Tessmer OF/P 5-10 185 R/R Sr. Woodbury, N.J./West Deptford
28 Frank Massenzio C 6-1 185 R/R Jr. Gillete, N.J./Watchung Hills
29 Charles Snyder P 5-10 180 R/R So. Philadelphia, Pa./La Salle
30 Tom Herber P 6-2 210 R/R So. Yonkers, N.Y./Fordham Prep
31 Jeff Allen 1B 6-2 220 R/R Sr. Olney, Md./Sherwood
33 Doug Smith P 6-3 170 R/R Fr. Bowie, Md./Bowie

Head Coach: Ross Natoli (#7) (14th season), natoli@cua.edu
Assistant Coaches: Jimmy Francis (#13), Dan Colunio (#8), Chip Poncy (#18), John Kirk (#28)
Captains: Ben Crowley, Jeff Allen, Ryan Eades, Drew Zachry