Opportunistic Holy Cross baseball team reflects coach's mantra in victory over Hammond _lowres

Photo by Joseph Halm -- Holy Cross coach Cass Hargis points a runner to third base during a nondistrict game against Hammond on Wednesday at Holy Cross.

First-year Holy Cross baseball coach Cass Hargis said he wants his team to play fast and take advantage of its opportunities this season.

If Wednesday afternoon was any indication, the Tigers are taking that message to heart.

Holy Cross scored 10 runs in the first inning including nine with two outs as the Tigers cruised to a 12-2 nondistrict win over Hammond in five innings at Holy Cross.

“That’s one thing that we haven’t done yet, but we’ve been talking about it in practice,” Hargis said about his team’s opportunistic first inning. “We need to create opportunities. When they walk us or hit us, we need to get the big hits. We hadn’t done that to this point, so I was happy to see that today. It was good to come out here and play well.”

Holy Cross (3-3) scored in the first on a single by senior Matt Muhleisen, and then a two-out, two-run error opened the floodgates. The Tigers sent 14 batters to the plate as the home team drew five walks, one hit batsman and benefitted from a two-run single by Cole Nalesnik and a two-run double by Tre Turner.

“We came out, and we weren’t overly aggressive with the bats,” said Muhleisen, who finished 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. “We stayed patient and put the ball in play. We stayed aggressive on the base paths too. We work on base running at practice every day. That’s one thing that we work on is reading the ball in the dirt and moving to the next bag.”

Turner (2-for-3, 4 RBIs) ended the game with his RBI single in the bottom of the fifth. Senior Kyle Schexnayder went 2-for-3 with a RBI, walk and four runs scored.

“We’re just looking to take advantage of what teams give us,” Schexnayder said. “This is not the best that we can do, but we’re moving in the right direction. We’re coming along. We’re getting used to each other, and we’re playing a little faster. Six games in, and we’re ready to rock-and-roll. We’ve got a couple of guys who can run, and we’re going to take advantage of that.”

For Hammond (1-5), J.T. Cooper had an RBI single in the fifth and Dylan Hammac scored on an error.

The 27-year-old Hargis said he and the players are still getting to know each other.

“I’m settling in,” the 2006 Holy Cross graduate said. “We had a nice practice routine, but once the games started, it takes a little time to get used to each other in game situations. I feel like after six games, we’ve got that down.”

Hargis played center field at Southeastern Louisiana, where he owns school records for career runs scored, triples, games played, games started, plate appearances and at-bats.

“We’re going to do everything fast,” he said. “We’re going to play the game hard. Our pitchers are going to throw strikes. Offensively — and you saw a little bit of this today — we’re going to win games in multiple ways. We’re going to seal bags and take extra bases, but we’re also going to drive the ball into the gaps.”