The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team built a big lead and held on for an 8-7 East Coast Conference victory at Molloy College as Giovanni Dingcong had a homer and four RBI. The Spartans, who clinched the ECC Regular Season Championship on Saturday, improved their overall record to 35-12, matching their regular-season record for victories set in 2013. They stand at 16-7 in ECC play, with Molloy falling to 30-19, 13-11.
Dingcong recorded an RBI double in the first and a two-run homer in the fourth to stake the Spartans to a 3-0 lead. STAC loaded the bases with none out in the fifth and scored two when Joseph Pena was hit by a pitch, and Dingcong walked to drive in his fourth run of the day.
The contest looked to be out of reach when the visitors tacked on three runs on four hits in the eighth - keyed by Jonathan McGugan's RBI single - in the eighth to open an 8-0 cushion, but the Lions rallied with three in the bottom half and, for the second straight game, put the tying run on base in their final at-bat before falling short.
John Bednarek was stellar in allowing just four hits over six shutout innings to improve to 5-1 on the season, while George Navadel put out the late fire to earn his 12th save of the season. STAC has certainly found a way to make things interesting despite their dominant record, with an 18-3 mark in games decided by two runs or less, including all three victories over Molloy in this weekend's four-game set.
The Spartans close out the regular season with a make-up contest in Bridgeport at Harbor Yard on Monday afternoon at 1:00 pm, before taking the top seed into the ECC Tournament, which begins on Thursday at Dowling College.
In other ECC action on Sunday, Dowling defeated Bridgeport to clinch the #2 seed, also putting the Purple Knights' season on the brink. Molloy has clinched a tourney berth at 13-11, but LIU Post's sweep of Mercy kept the Pioneers alive, also at 13-11. Entering Monday's game, Bridgeport now stands at 12-11 - a win over STAC will give them a tourney slot while a loss will end their season.
- Steve Balsan, St. Thomas Aquinas Sports Information
- Photo by Dorice Arden