The move paid big dividends as he developed into one of the best hurlers in the Atlantic Coast Conference and helped Georgia Tech claim the 2012 ACC Championship.
“My freshman year was tough,” said Cruz, a 2010 Blessed Trinity graduate. “For the first time in my life I wasn’t playing all the time.”
“I just kept looking forward to this year and was determined to do whatever it took to earn some playing time.”
Recruited as a shortstop out of BT, the thought of pitching never entered his mind when he arrived on campus. But early season injuries made playing time on the mound available and Cruz saw his opening. He toed the rubber for the first time early in a February relief outing and never looked back.
In short time he found himself as Georgia Tech’s workhorse out of the bullpen — finishing the year with a team leading 30 appearances and leading all ACC relievers with 75 innings pitched.
And the more experience he gained, the better he preformed.
Cruz notched a pair of three inning saves in the ACC tournament and made his first career start in Georgia Tech’s NCAA Regional games against the College of Charleston — working six innings of two-hit ball in a 3-0 victory.
“I got my chance early and I was effective, coach [Danny] Hall stuck with me and it took off from there,” said Cruz who admitted even he didn’t expect his season would turn out the way it did.
Among those not surprised by Cruz’s season was BT coach Andy Harlin, who saw enough in four years to know Georgia Tech was getting a winner.
“That’s just the type of player he is. He just has that mentality where he is going to succeed at whatever he does, he has zero fear and he is never going to be intimidated.”
By season’s end the former infielder was doing the intimidating on the mound — posting some of the top pitching numbers on his team, in his conference, and across the nation.
His 8-3 record was the best on Georgia Tech’s staff, a 1.81 ERA was the second best mark in the ACC and 10th best nationally, and his .179 batting average against was tops in the conference and fourth in the nation.