The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team won its second straight outing to start the season, capturing a 13-9 decision over Slippery Rock University at Dinwiddie Sports Complex in Virginia. The weekend slate was shortened when Saturday's scheduled double-header with Shepherd University was canceled due to rain. Slippery Rock dropped to 2-2 and STAC has now taken five of six games in the Dinwiddie Challenge over the past two seasons.
STAC wasted little time breaking out the offense, as Joey Pena led off with a walk and scored on Deven Del Priore's single. Three batters later, Mike Morgan doubled in a pair, staking the Spartans to a 3-0 cushion in the visiting first.
Chris Cepeda, last season's ECC Rookie of the Year with Dowling and making his first start in a STAC uniform, yielded a pair of runs in the bottom of the second but was otherwise strong in a six-inning stint. STAC tacked on a run in the top of the second and added three more in the fourth on the strength of Greg Dawber's two run double and a bases loaded walk issued to Morgan, increasing the lead to 6-2.
Del Priore's RBI single in the fifth added insurance, and the Spartans broke open an 8-3 game with five more in the eighth inning. Mark Shkrelja singled in a pair, and Chris Ruiz dealt a decisive blow with a three-run blast to give St. Thomas Aquinas a 13-3 edge.
Slippery Rock did not go quietly, as a pair of Spartan errors and four hits opened the door for five unearned runs in a six-run rally. With the deficit trimmed to 13-9 and two on with two out, Chad Sinko came out of the pen to retire the final batter and nail down the save, his first of the season.
Morgan, Dawber, and Ruiz accounted for three RBIs each on the 10-hit STAC attack, with Cepeda earning his first win, scattering four hits while fanning nine and walking one in his six innings of work.
In deference to the recent warm weather, the Spartans have actually added a game to their schedule before their next southern trip, traveling to face Adelphi University on Long Island this Tuesday, February 28. They will then head to Thomasville, North Carolina for a trio of contests next Saturday and Sunday.