The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team roared to a 16-0 victory in an East Coast Conference contest against the University of Bridgeport at Harbor Yard. The Spartans, ranked #25 in this week's National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association national poll, have now won 9-of-10 straight overall and seven straight in ECC play, improve to 22-8, 8-1, with Bridgeport falling to 4-26, 1-8.
Giovanni Dingcong led the barrage, going 4-for-4 with two homers and six RBI, Joseph Pena added four hits and Mark Shkrelja had three as five Spartan pitchers combined on the five-hit shutout.
STAC wasted little time jumping on top as Pena led off with a single and scored two batters later on Dingcong's hit. Shkrelja doubled in two more and later scored on a wild pitch as the visitors grabbed a 4-0 lead before starter Chris Cepeda threw his first pitch. The runs kept coming in the second when Antony Shrkelja and brother Mark drew consecutive bases loaded walks and a wild pitch brought in another with STAC grabbing a 7-0 lead after just two innings.
Cepeda was dialed in with eight strikeouts and no walks in five strong innings, turning the game over to the bullpen after the Spartans extended their lead with a run in the fourth and six more in the fifth. Dingcong brought in Nicholas Lucchese with a sac fly to make the tally 8-0, Pena drove in two more with a single in the following frame, and Dingcong's first homer was a three-run shot to open a 14-0 advantage. Dingcong's solo shot in the seventh combined with an eighth inning single to cap a spectacular day for the All-American, who leads the conference with nine homers and 39 runs batted in for the season.
Dingcong and Pena also scored four runs each and Mark Shkrelja drove in three runs in the 19-hit attack. Cepeda allowed four hits in improving to 3-3 overall, with Peter Romano, William O'Brien, Raymon Sarza, and John Rodriguez each providing a scoreless relief inning. Pena now leads the ECC with a .422 batting average, while Dingcong moves up to third at .396.
The middle games of the four-game weekend conference series shift to Palisades Credit Union Park on Saturday, with double-header action starting at 10:00 am. The set wraps up on Sunday back at Harbor Yard in Connecticut with a noon start.