The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team swept a double-header over Jefferson University, 8-3 in the opener and 3-2 in the nightcap walkoff at the Dinwiddie Challenge in Virginia. The Spartans, ranked #7 nationally in this week's NCBWA poll, now stand at 3-0 on the season while Jefferson (formerly Philadelphia University) slid to 0-3.
Joey Pena went 4-for-4 with three runs and two RBI in the opener, and Angelo Baez proceeded to drive home the winning run with a walkoff single in the 8th inning of the nightcap. On the day, STAC hurlers combined to allow just three earned runs in 15 innings of work.
Pena started the day on the right foot, tripling to lead off the opener and coming home on a Baez single before the Spartans blew the game open with a two-out, five-run rally in the 2nd inning. With two on and two down, Pena came through again, lacing a double to bring home Anthony Maisano and Bobby Morse. Baez brought Pena around with an RBI single, and Giovanni Dingcong followed with his second home run of the year, with the two-run shot opening the gap to 6-0.
Starting pitcher Alex Mack was in charge, allowing just two hits in five scoreless inning, walking three and striking out one. The Rams pushed across a pair in the home 6th and threatened to get back into the game but STAC avoided further damage with the bases loaded, and got those two runs back in the top of the 7th. After Pena hit his second triple of the game and Baez walked, Anthony Shkrelja again provided the two-out magic, bringing both runners home on a single. The Spartans outhit Jefferson by an 11-3 count, with Baez and Shkrelja adding two each.
Game two was a much tighter contest, though STAC - batting as the home team - again pushed across a tally in the first. Pena and Baez again set the table with back-to-back walks, and Pena eventually swiped home as part of a double-steal to make the score 1-0. Jefferson grabbed the lead in the top of the 3rd on a Brandon Quaranta two-run shot, but Dingcong singled home Pena in the bottom half to quickly deadlock the affair at 2-2.
That score held up through the regulation seven innings, with Jefferson coming up empty in the top of the 8th. Pena continued to generate offense with a leadoff walk, proceeding to steal both second and third before trotting home with the game-winner and Baez' single. Josten Beato earned the win in release as STAC pitching has combined to allow just nine hits over their first 24 innings of work this season.
The Spartans look to close out the weekend with a sweep but the remaining task is a big game with national implications. On Sunday, STAC squares off with West Chester University, defending National Champions and currently #2 ranked in the NCBWA. STAC and WCU are also ranked first in the East and Atlantic Regions, respectively.