For Immediate Release: June 30, 2003
Crnilovic Fires Fenway Pitch
BOSTON, Mass. - Toza Crnilovic, captain of the 2003 Norwich Cadets national championship ice hockey team, threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Boston Red Sox-Florida Marlins game on Friday night as the Red Sox honored the Cadets for their national championship season.
Crnilovic fired a perfect strike to kick off what will be remembered as one of the more outrageous games in recent history at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox grilled the Marlins by a 25-8 final score on a steamy night, with Boston scoring a major-league record 10 runs in their half of the first inning before a single batter was retired. The Sox went on to score 14 runs in the first inning, and led 14-1 after the first frame was complete.
Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon became just the second player in major league history to record three hits in one inning (the first), and the Sox matched a team record by rapping out 28 hits in the game.
Marlins' pitcher Kevin Olsen was later carried from the field on a stretcher after being struck in the head by a line drive off of the bat of Red Sox second baseman Todd Walker. Olsen was released from the hospital the next day after being kept overnight for observation. Later in the game the Red Sox' David Ortiz was hit by a pitch from Florida's Blaine Neal, and the Sox' Hector Almonte returned the favor an inning later by firing a pitch behind Florida's Andy Fox, prompting the ejections of Almonte and Red Sox manager Grady Little, and a bench-clearing incident in which the teams held a summit at the pitcher's mound, but in which no punches were thrown.
The crowd of 34,764 at Fenway featured a considerable number of Norwich friends and alumni who turned out to see the Cadets, including 2001 graduate Keith Aucoin, the Cadets' all-time leading scorer on the ice. Aucoin, who now plays hockey for the Providence Bruins, was on hand to see his younger brother Phil and the rest of the Cadet contingent.
The NU players and coaches were brought down to the field about one-half hour before game time, and posed for pictures and called friends from the field.
The entire team was led out to the mound prior to the game, and ringed the back of the pitcher's mound while the team was recognized on the scoreboard and by the public address announcer, before Crnilovic took the hill to fire the opening pitch, which was a perfect strike, to the delight of the fans in attendance.
The catcher returned the ball to Crnilovic, who jogged over to the third base line to give the ball to Norwich president Dr. Richard Schneider, who was seated in the first row behind the dugout along with his wife, Jamie, and with Norwich University trustee, Charlie Holden '67, and his wife, Kathleen.
Holden and fellow trustee Joe Milano '66 were instrumental in helping orchestrate the team's visit to Fenway.
Boston's WSBK-TV, Channel 38, had planned to feature Cadets' head coach Mike McShane and president Schneider in its "Not Your Average Fan" segment during the game, but that interview was pre-empted after Olson was struck with the line drive, so that reporter Dan Roche could follow that story.
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