Spartans' Title Reign Ends with 3-2 Tourney Loss to Molloy

Spartans' Title Reign Ends with 3-2 Tourney Loss to Molloy

The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team was eliminated from the East Coast Conference Tournament as Molloy College rallied for a 3-2 victory. The Spartans, who won the previous three ECC Tournament Championships, will likely see their season continue as they await a possible at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament when the national field is announced Sunday night. STAC now stands at 35-15, while Molloy staved off elimination to improve to 31-20.

After a tough extra-inning loss to Bridgeport on Thursday, STAC saw Molloy jump out to a 1-0 lead in the third inning on Elijah Leerdam's RBI single off Sam Vincenzo. The Spartans tied the game in the fifth when Joe Boland and Joseph Pena each doubled to bring home the equalizer.

Vincenzo ran into trouble in the bottom half, putting the first two runners on and retiring the next two before giving way to reliever Scott Hannon, who escaped further trouble. Boland helped his team take the lead in the seventh with a leadoff single, giving way to pinch runner Andre Jackson, who promptly stole second. Michael Morgan followed with an RBI single, giving his team the edge.

Hannon was very effective until the home eighth, when Molloy plated the decisive runs without the benefit of a hit. Pinch hitter Anthony Galanoudis led off with a walk, and Hannon bobbled Ryan Hensley's attempted sacrifice to put two men on. Chris Pennell came from the pen and walked Deylin Guzman before giving way to Frankie Moscatiello, who walked Kevin Podell to bring in the tying run.

Angelo Navetta brought in the winning run with a sac fly and Shawn Klotsche struck out the side in the ninth for the save, preserving the win for reliever Lucas Burton, who worked a scoreless eighth inning. Hannon was credited with the loss for STAC and Boland was the only Spartan with two hits, as his team recorded just six in each of its two tournament setbacks.

- Steve Balsan, St. Thomas Aquinas Sports Information

- Photo by Dorice Arden