CLINCH! Spartans Down Queens, Take Home Regular Season Conference Title
The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team defeated Queens College, 11-2 clinching first place in the East Coast Conference. STAC has earned the right to host the conference tournament, which begins Thursday. The Spartans improve to 32-15 overall, 17-5 in ECC play, while Queens drops to 12-27, 6-16.
With today's results, the field for this year's tournament is now set, with Dowling taking the #2 seed with two victories in this weekend's marathon set with CW Post, who comes in as #3, and Bridgeport earning the #4 berth as final tournament entrant by virtue of yesterday's sweep over Molloy. Dowling and Post will square off in Thursday's opener, with Bridgeport against STAC as the nightcap to kick off the double-elimination format.
Mike Russo continued to set the offensive tone, going 3-for-4 with four RBI, including a big three-run homer to break the contest open, while Matt Marotta put his name in the Spartan record books in two categories.
With the Magic Number whittled to one after Dowling and Post split Saturday, the Spartans sent ace Marotta to the hill, but he was matched in zeroes by Queens hurler Steven Kaplan through three innings.With Marotta's strikeout of CJ Gerdowski to end the second, he set a new single-season mark in that category, with his 62 eclipsing teammate Robert Frank's previous mark.
After the visitors posted their first hit of the day without scoring in the fourth, STAC finally broke through. Russo's double into the gap brought in George Wargo, and Russo himself would eventually score on a Stanley Susana sacrifice fly. The Spartans tacked on another in the fifth when Joe Antenucci stole home on the back end of a double steal, and made it 4-0 in the sixth when Russo crashed another double and eventually scored on an error.
Queens would get on the board with an unearned run in the seventh when Efrain Bautista's error allowed Warren Kelly to score, but the hosts extended their margin to 6-1 when Joe Antenucci's double brought in a pair. The Knights added another and threatened in the eighth, but reliever Ken Frawley worked out of further trouble.
STAC would put the affair out of reach with a five-spot in the eighth, keyed by Russo's majestic three-run homer - his league-leading sixth of the season - deep into the left field bleachers, giving last week's ECC Player-of-the-Week three extra base hits on the day. Jon Scott would work a perfect ninth to send St. Thomas Aquinas to it's second regular-season title in the past five seasons.
Marotta picked up the victory to improve to 8-1, with his win total also setting a new STAC single-season mark. Kaplan fell to 2-4 with the loss, while Wargo and Bautista each picked up a pair of hits for the Spartans.
There is still unfinished business to attend to, as St. Thomas Aquinas concludes the regular season tomorrow, Monday, May 7, in a 6:30 pm double-header at Provident Bank Park. Final tournament times and pairings will be confirmed shortly, check below for updates as they become available.
East Coast Conference Standings (thru 5/6/12)
|(1)St. Thomas Aquinas||17||5||.773||---|
(#) = ECC Tournament seed z = eliminated from ECC tournament contention
Remaining ECC Games
Saturday, May 5
@ CW Post 5, Dowling 4 (20 innings)
Dowling 2, @ CW Post 1
@ Bridgeport 3, Molloy 1
@ Bridgeport 5, Molloy 0
Sunday, May 6
@ St. Thomas Aquinas 11, Queens 2
Dowling 6, @ CW Post 5 (13 innings)
@ Molloy 5, Bridgeport 2
Monday, May 7
St. Thomas Aquinas @ Queens (2), 6:30
(at Provident Bank Park)
- End Regular Season -
East Coast Conference Tournament Schedule (subject to change)
Thursday, May 10, at Provident Bank Park
Game 1 - #3 CW Post vs #2 Dowling, 1:00
Game 2 - #4 Bridgeport vs #1 St. Thomas Aquinas, 4:00
Friday, May 11, at Provident Bank Park
Game 3 - 9:00 am
Game 4 - 12:00 pm
Game 5 - 3:00 pm
Saturday, May 12, at St. John's University
Game 6 - 12:00 pm
Game 7 - (if necessary) 3:00 pm