Spartans Pitch Their Way to Season Series Sweep Over Bridgeport
Pitching was the key as the St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team earned a sweep over the University of Bridgeport by identical 3-2 scores. Eric Cooper and Nick May took home wins and Joe DePool picked up a pair of saves as STAC won all five season meetings, including four in East Coast Conference play. The Spartans have warmed up to their new digs at Provident Bank Park, winning nine of their last 11 at The Bank.
St. Thomas Aquinas now stands at 27-13 overall with Bridgeport dropping to 9-18. In ECC play, the Spartans recapture first place by percentage points over Dowling, who split a pair with Molloy, while idle CW Post is one game back. STAC would win a tiebreaker over Dowling by virtue of taking three of four in their season series. Bridgeport's playoff chances took a major hit as they drop to sixth with a 5-11 conference mark, after Queens' sweep over Mercy.
As they did in Friday's 9-2 win in Connecticut, the Spartans scored after just two batters. Frank Salerno was hit by a pitch, stole second, and scored on a Nick Barbalato single. Mike Doran singled in a run in the second to bring the Purple Knights even, but STAC would once again jump in front in the bottom half, as Efrain Bautista's two-out single put the hosts back on top.
The Spartans would add another in the third off Bridgeport's Matt Wing, as an errant pickoff throw moved Barbalato to third, where he would eventually score on a George Wargo double-play ball. Bridgeport would threaten but could not break through again until the sixth. With two out and nobody on, Eric Schlitter was hit by a pitch, advanced on a Cooper wild pitch, and scored on a Mike Doran single, setting the stage for a tense ninth inning.
Wing was solid on the hill for the visitors, holding the hard-hitting Spartans to just three hits, but it was Joe DePool who would come on to close our the seventh, earning his sixth save of the campaign. Cooper improved to 3-1, while Wing fell to a hard-luck 2-3.
Game two seemed like deja vu, as Salerno was hit by a pitch leading off the bottom of the first, and eventually scored on a Joe Antenucci single off Bridgeport's Chris Maull. The Purple Knights drew even in the third on a Matt Nassi double, but once again the Spartans would waste little time regaining the lead.
Salerno led off the last of the third with a booming triple to center, and scored on a sac fly by Antenucci to make the score 2-1. Bridgeport would tie the score again in the fifth, when Mike Olszyk scored an unearned run on a passed ball, but continuing the theme, St. Thomas Aquinas would reclaim the lead for the final time in the very next frame.
Barbalato doubled with one out, and advanced to third on a balk before a two-out single from Wargo would bring in the decisive tally. May, who worked six hitless innings in getting a no-decision in his last appearance, went five frames, yielding just one earned run on six hits. Mike Roestenberg worked an uneventful sixth, and again DePool came in to put the finishing touches on the afternoon's action.
May improved to 3-1, while Maull went the distance but fell to 1-5 overall. DePool increased his league lead in the save category with his seventh of the year. STAC's magic number to qualify for the ECC Tournament is now down to two over Queens, and one over Bridgeport.
The Spartans return to action for a big ECC showdown against Molloy College this Tuesday, April 24, in a 3:30 start. They travel to face Felician College on Friday, April 27, before a three-game weekend set against Mercy kicks off with a twin-bill at Provident Bank Park next Saturday, April 28, at 12:00 noon.
East Coast Conference Standings (thru
|St. Thomas Aquinas||12||4||.750||---|
Upcoming ECC Games
Sunday, April 22
Molloy @ Dowling, 12:00
Tuesday, April 24
Molloy @ St. Thomas Aquinas, 3:30
CW Post @ Mercy, 3:00
Bridgeport @ Dowling, 3:00
Saturday, April 28
Mercy @ St. Thomas Aquinas (2), 12:00
CW Post @ Molloy (2), 12:00
Bridgeport @ Queens, 12:00
Sunday, April 29
St. Thomas Aquinas @ Mercy, 1:00
Queens @ Bridgeport (2), 1:00
Molloy @ CW Post, 1:00