The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team advanced in the Winner's Bracket of the East Coast Conference Tournament with a 6-1 victory over host Molloy College. The top-seeded Spartans will now face No. 2 LIU Post (which defeated Bridgeport 7-1 earlier in the day) at 2:00 pm, while No. 4 Molloy faces elimination against No. 3 Bridgeport in the day's opener at 11:00 am.
STAC, ranked No. 21 in the nation in the NCBWA poll and No. 2 in the East in the NCAA, has now won 11 straight games to improve to 38-13 overall, with the Lions falling to 19-28. The Spartans are now one win shy of tying the single-season school record for wins, set in 2013.
East Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year Frankie Moscatiello powered through the first two innings on just 20 pitches, and First-Team All-Conference selection Giovanni Dingcong opened the scoring off Molloy ace Ronald Bauer with his league-leading 15th homer of the season to open the 2nd.
Molloy left runners in scoring position in the 3rd, and loaded the bases in the 5th before Moscatiello induced power-hitting Angelo Navetta to ground out to end the threat. The Spartans took full advantage, pushing across a pair in both the 5th and 6th innings to open some breathing room.
Juan Adorno and Chris Ruiz opened the home 5th with back-to-back doubles to give STAC a 2-0 edge, and Bobby Morse came through with a two-out RBI single to bring in another. In the 6th, a fielding error opened the door for two unearned runs as an error led to Dingcong scoring, and after an Adorno triple, Joey Pena scored him with an infield hit to open the gap to 5-0.
Though he appeared to struggle at times, Moscatiello lived up to his billing, keeping the Lions off the board while scattering four hits over his first seven strong innings of work. Molloy got on the board in the 8th, with Michael Rahn leading off with a double before Moscatiello gave way to reliever Chris Pennell, and scoring on Elijah Leerdam's single to cut the gap to 5-1.
St. Thomas Aquinas answered in the bottom half when Adorno's third hit of the day - leaving him just a home run short of a cycle - brought in Nicholas Lucchese with the contest's final run. Molloy did threaten in the 9th, loading the bases with two down, but Chad Sinko closed out the victory.
Moscatiello improved to 8-1 with the win, while loweriing his conference-best ERA to 1.60. Adorno and Pena each recorded three hits while Dingcong added two and a walk to pace the attack. Bauer, the ECC's Preseason Pitcher of the Year, fell to 2-6 with the loss, with Rahn, Leerdam, and Brian Murphy posting two hits each for the Lions.