Spartans Hit 30-Win Plateau with Slugfest Victory over Felician

Spartans Hit 30-Win Plateau with Slugfest Victory over Felician

The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team hit the 30-win mark for the fifth straight season with a wild 19-10 victory over Felician University at Palisades Credit Union Park. The Spartans, ranked 24th in the nation in this week's NCBWA Top 25 poll, improved to 30-10 on the season, nine wins short of the school record set in 2013. After a slow start, Felician had been on fire of late, winning 20 of its last 24 games before dropping to 25-18 after the loss.

Entering the day, St. Thomas Aquinas was ranked #3 in the most recent NCAA East Region rankings, while the Golden Falcons came in at #5. Both starting pitchers struggled with command early on, and runs were plentiful from the outset.

A pair of walks from STAC's Frankie Moscatiello was turned into three first inning runs after two-out doubles from Brennan Price and Jason Polgano. Felician's Dean Loucka had his own problems in the bottom half, walking the first two batters before Brandon Fischer's booming homer to left tied the score.

Felician regained the edge on Bruce Strickland's RBI single in the visiting second, but the Spartans grabbed their first lead in the bottom half. A hit batter and a walk set the table for Greg Dawber's game-tying double. A throwing error hurt reliever Tommy Giunta, opening the door for RBIs by Deven Del Priore and Giovanni Dingcong as STAC grabbed a 7-4 edge.

Jose Perralta came from the Spartans' pen in the third, and two more walks led to a Golden Falcon marker to trim the gap to 7-5, but STAC would put the game away in the next frame. A pair of hit batters and two infield hits started the outburst, which culminated in Dingcong's bases-loaded double off the base of the center field wall. When all was said and done, six more runs had trotted home, opening a 13-5 chasm.

For the first time in the game, Felician failed to score in the top of the fourth, and Peralta gained momentum from there, allowing just the one run in four strong innings of relief. STAC tacked on in the fifth when Tyler Patane delivered a pinch hit homer for the second time in just over a week. On April 20 against Concordia, he smoked the first pitch he saw for a grand slam, and this time he turned on one for a three-run shot, hitting nearly the same spot on the roof in right field.

Andre Jackson also got in on the action, delivering a pair of doubles and two RBI in as many at bats after coming off the bench. The Golden Falcons closed out the scoring with a pair of runs in the eighth and three more in the ninth, but the game's outcome had long-since been determined.

Peralta gave up just one hit in his four innings of work to pick up the win and improve to 1-1, while Loucka fell to 2-4 with the loss. Five different players had two hits each for STAC, with Dingcong and Fischer driving in four runs each.

The attention now turns back to East Coast Conference play as the regular season enters its final 10 days. STAC's weekend set with Bridgeport begins at 11:00 am Friday at Harbor Yard before shifting to Palisade Credit Union Park (formerly Provident Bank Park) for a noon double-header. The set wraps up on Sunday back in Bridgeport for a 6:00 pm start.

St. Thomas Aquinas enters the weekend in first place in the conference, one game ahead of both Bridgeport and Molloy, and with a magic number of just two to return to the conference tournament, where they have won the last three titles. After a pair of weekday games with Dominican, the regular season closes with a four-game conference series against Molloy.

- Steve Balsan, St. Thomas Aquinas Sports Information

- Photo by Dorice Arden