The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team took an East Coast Conference sweep over the University of Bridgeport, 13-2 and 8-7, at Palisades Credit Union Park. The Spartans have now won five straight and 14-of-16 overall to improve to 26-12 overall, 10-4 in ECC play, with Bridgeport falling to 15-19, 9-8. STAC holds a one-game lead over LIU Post for first place in the conference.
With their 26 victories on the season, the Spartans have now eclipsed the 25-win plateau for the seventh straight season, with 12 regular-season games plus post-season still to play.
One week ago, Bridgeport starter Anthony Alicky allowed the Spartans just one run in seven innings to claim a win, but in Sunday's opener STAC wasted little time gaining revenge. Giovanni Dingcong's RBI grounder put the hosts up by a run in the opening frame, and one inning later his bases-clearing double keyed a five-run inning as the Spartans grabbed a 6-0 cushion after just two innings.
Greg Dawber's RBI single in the 4th brought Alicky's day to an early close, and Mark Shkrelja drove in two more with a hit to open a 9-0 chasm. That proved to be ample run support for starter Frankie Moscatiello, who carried a shutout through 6.2 innings of work while scattering four hits.
STAC's lead ballooned to 13-0 before the Purple Knights posted their lone runs of the game in the visiting 8th, not nearly enough to prevent Moscatiello from improving his season mark to 5-1 overall. Dingcong's four RBI led the 14-hit onslaught, as he was one of five STAC players to record two hits each.
Game two was hardly as decisive, turning into a wild extra-inning affair. Casey McCone's run-scoring single in the opening inning off STAC's John Bednarek gave UB its first led of the day, but it proved to be short-lived as Bobby Morse tripled in a run and Juan Adorno singled him home for a 2-1 lead in the bottom half.
Bridgeport strung together five hits to plate four runs in the top of the 4th, as Stephen DiNicola, Casey Ouellette, Darren Grabowski, and Cam Overbaugh each hitting safely to drive home markers, giving the visitors a 5-2 lead. Mark Shkrelja's sac fly in the bottom half cut the deficit to 5-3, and a fielding error plated an unearned run but STAC still trailed, 5-4, entering the 7th and final regulation inning.
Dylan Steigerwald and Dave Egeland each singled in what looked to be big insurance runs, staking the Purple Knights to a 7-4 lead as the Spartans faced their last chance. Chris Ruiz led off with a homer off reliever Dennis Lyman, and Joey Pena followed with a double, bringing in Andrew Oswald from the UB pen.
Anthony Maisano singled in Pena to cut the gap to 7-6, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Bobby Morse reached on a fielding error on a routine grounder to put runners at first and third with nobody out, but a pair of strikeouts had Lyman on the verge of escaping the jam until Greg Dawber - who knocked in the deciding runs in Friday's 4-2 win - came through again with a game-tying single to send the game to extra innings.
Chris Pennell was strong once again from the Spartans pen, setting the stage for the winning rally in the 9th off Bridgeport's Andrew Oswald. Maisano reached on a single and advanced on Bobby Morse's walk. Dingcong bounced into a fielder's choice, retiring the lead runner, but Mike Morgan was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Once again, the table was set for Dawber, who got the pitch he wanted on a 2-0 delivery, sending a soft liner into center field for the game-winning hit. That completed a 4-for-5 day for the third baseman, and gave Pennell his first win of the season to improve to 1-2, and Nick Lucchese went 3-for-4 to contribute to the victory.
The Spartans will go for the sweep of the four-game weekend set which concludes tomorrow, Monday, at 12:00 noon at Harbor Yard. STAC will then host Queens for an ECC tilt on Tuesday in a 3:30 pm start, before rival Molloy visits for a conference twin-bill on Friday starting at 3:30 pm at Palisades Credit Union Park.