The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team swept an East Coast Conference double-header from Molloy, 7-2 and 7-4, as Giovanni Dingcong set a single-season team record with his 13th home run. The Spartans are now 29-13 overall and remain in first place in the ECC standings at 13-5, while Molloy fell to 17-22, 10-9.
With the victory, STAC has now won 20 of its last 24 games, and became the first team to clinch a berth in the 2017 ECC Baseball Tournament. The Spartans remained 1.5 games ahead of LIU Post in the conference standings.
STAC followed the same pattern in both games, taking the lead on a 1st inning homer in each while holding the lead for all 18 innings of the twin-bill.
A battle of aces was on tap for the opener as STAC's Frankie Moscatiello squared off with Molloy's Ronald Bauer. Juan Adorno's two-run homer put the hosts on top, and the Spartans broke the game early with four in the 2nd. Nick Lucchese brought in a pair with a single, and Joey Pena and Mike Morgan each knocked in runs to stake their team to a surprising 6-0 lead after just two frames.
That was more than enough for Moscatiello, cruising through seven innings while allowing a pair of unearned runs, scattering five hits while fanning 10. Alex Mack closed out the affair with two-innings of one-hit relief work. Pena doubled in another run in the 7th to close out the Spartans attack.
Game two started in much the same way, with STAC utilizing a historic long ball to break on top. With two out and nobody on, Bobby Morse and Anthony Shkrelja hit back-to-back singles to set the table, and Dingcong did the rest. His laser beam homer to right-center narrowly cleared the fence, as home run number 13 on the season eclipsed the single-season team record, previously held by Vin Mahlzan, TJ Varcchio, and Javier Diaz.
After working out of a bases-loaded 1st-inning jam brought about by a pair of fielding errors, starter Chris Cepeda took advantage of the run support. The Lions drew to within 3-1 in the 3rd when Brian Murphy singled, stole second, advanced on a fly out and scored on a grounder. That's the only run Cepeda would allow in seven innings, allowing just three hits while striking out five.
STAC got the run back quickly in the bottom of the 3rd, when Pena doubled, moved up on a while pitch, and scored on Anthony Shkrelja's sac fly to make the score 4-1. Four hits in the home 5th helped the Spartans push across three runs to open a 7-1 cushion, with Pena's two-run double keying the rally.
Molloy drew to within 7-4 with a trio of unearned runs in the 8th, but George Navadel came on to work a scoreless 9th to earn his 5th save of the season, improving Cepeda's mark to 5-2. Dominic Danetti started and took the loss for the Lions, while Dingcong had three hits to lead the Spartans.
The four-game weekend series shifts to Long Island tomorrow, as Molloy hosts a 1:00 pm double-header to close out the season series. The Spartans return home on Tuesday, May 2, facing Dominican in a non-conference 3:30 pm start at Palisades Credit Union Park. Then, on Wednesday, LIU Post visits for their season-series finale with the Spartans, also at 3:30.