The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team captured it's seventh straight victory, a 14-6 East Coast Conference decision over Mercy College. Giovanni Dingcong hit his 26th career homer to establish a new record. The Spartans now stand at 34-13 overall and 17-5 in ECC play, needing just one win or an LIU Post loss over the final three games to clinch their fourth regular-season conference championship in the past six years. Mercy fell to 10-29, 4-18 with the loss.
Starter Frankie Moscatiello, the conference leader in ERA and strikeouts entering the night, got off to an unlucky start after retiring his first two batters. Anthony Murphy's routine fly ball was lost in the lights, falling for a double, and opposite-field singles from Randal Mendez and Justin Kiesow staked Mercy to a quick 2-0 advantage.
That lasted only until the home 2nd, when Anthony Shkrelja and Dingcong homered on consecutive pitches to tie the score. Dingcong was his league-leading 14th of the season - already a STAC record - and the 26th of his career, eclipsing the mark previously held by Vin Malzahn. The hosts were not done, however, as Mavericks' starter John Young became unnerved, with a pair of walks a hit batter, and a balk contributing to two more Spartan runs and a 4-2 lead.
STAC matched that total with a four-spot in the 3rd off reliever Matteo Finocchi, who also issued a pair of walks and a hit batter before turning the ball over to Paul Hansut with one down. Mike Morgan singled in one run, Greg Dawber plated another with a sac fly, and Chris Ruiz broke the game open at 8-2 with a two-RBI single.
Moscatiello was not at the top of his form, needing an outstanding diving catch to keep a pair of runners from scoring in the 3rd inning, but he battled without yielding another run through his six innings of work.
Joey Pena's RBI bunt single scored an insurance tally in the 5th, and the Spartans continued their recent offensive barrage with five in the 6th, as Ruiz keyed the rally with another two-run hit to make the score 14-2. Including victories against Dominican on Tuesday and LIU Post on Wednesday, through the 6th inning the Spartans had exploded for 47 runs over a span of just 22 innings encompassing those three games in three nights.
Schedule Updates - Saturday's double-header at Mercy is now scheduled for an 11:00 am start, while Sunday's regular-season finale at Palisades Credit Union Park has been changed to a 12:00 noon first pitch. Senior Day ceremonies will precede the contest, starting at approximately 11:30.