Baseball Holds off Bridgeport, 13-6; Fifth Straight Win For #4 Ranked Spartans
Frank Salerno had four hits and Nick Barbalato added three to lead the St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team to a 13-6 victory over the University of Bridgeport in an East Coast Conference contest at Harbor Yard. The Spartans have now won five straight to improve to 16-8 overall, 4-0 in the ECC, while Bridgeport fell to 3-7, 0-2.
STAC was also well-represented in an East Regional poll this week, as they moved up to the #4 slot in the region in the d2baseballnews.com rankings.
The Spartans struck early on Bridgeport starter Nick Vautrin with three hits in the first as Matt Marotta's sac fly brought in Frank Salerno, and Mike Russo's double scored Nick Barbalato. STAC knocked Vautrin out of the box in the second, as a Salerno double brought in Derek Hirsch. Purple Knight reliever Garret Rogers struggled in his own right, walking George Wargo to force in a run and yielding another Marotta sac fly later in the inning to stake the visitors to a 5-0 edge. STAC added two more in the third on Barbalato's two-RBI single, plating Efrain Bautista and Stanley Susana to put his team up, 7-0.
Bridgeport pushed across a run in the third on Spartan starter Nick May on an Eric Schlitter RBI single, but the freshman lefty was able to avoid further trouble, also working out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth. The Purple Knights succeeded in knocking May from the box in the fifth, as a pair of two-out singles brought on Ken Frawley. Kyle Ferri greeted the righthander with a run-scoring single, but again the Spartans would escape without further damage, holding a 7-2 lead.
STAC answered in the sixth, finally getting to reliever Kyle Trudeau, when Russo's two-out single brought in Antenucci, and two batters later Derek Hirsch singled in both Russo and Susana.
Despite the eight-run cushion, the Spartans would not escape without some anxious moments. Relievers Robert Frank and Dan Diaz combined to allow four runs in the bottom of the seventh on just one Bridgeport hit, as five walks, and a hit batter - all with two out - brought the hosts within striking distance at 10-6.
St. Thomas Aquinas would but this one away for good with three in the eighth, as Salerno's fourth hit of the day keyed a three-run rally that would provide the final margin of victory. Frawley was awarded the win in relief to improve to 3-1, while Vautrin fell to 0-4. Salerno finished the afternoon 4-for-5 with three runs scored, Barbalato went 3-for-5, and five different Spartans drove in two runs each, with Salerno, Barbalato, Russo, Marotta, and Hirsch turning the trick.
The Spartans return to action when they host the Purple Knights in a non-conference tilt as UB visits Provident Bank Park for the first time on Friday, March 30, at 3:00 pm. They then travel for a big twin-bill at Molloy on Saturday, March 31, before returning to PBP to complete the weekend set with Molloy on Sunday, April 1.
Remember, if you can't make it to the park you can follow the Spartans in real time for every home game and select road contests by clicking on the "Live Stats" link (where available) on the team schedule.