The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team split an East Coast Conference double-header, winning the opener by an 11-2 count before dropping game two, 5-2, at Palisades Credit Union Park. The Spartans win streak was snapped at seven games as STAC now stands at 31-10, 16-3, with Mercy now at 20-24, 9-10. With five conference games remaining, STAC's magic number is down to three to capture the ECC Regular Season Championship.
After posting a decisive 8-1 win in Friday's series opener at Mercy, the Spartans jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in Saturday's opener. Nicholas Lucchese opened the scoring by coming home on a wild pitch, and Tyler Patane's booming double to center knocked in two more to put the hosts up in the opening frame. Lucchese drove in two more with a single in the fourth, and Anthony Maisano singled in another an inning later to make the score 6-0.
Freshman starter Jason Salva was in control, scattering four hits over 5.2 shutout innings before Chris Pennell came on to end the top of the sixth. STAC blew the contest open with five more in the home sixth, as Joey Pena recorded a sac fly, Anthony Shkrelja added a two-run single, and Patane kept wielding a hot bat by crashing a two-run homer as the lead extended to 11-0.
Seven Spartans pitchers combined to allow just five hits, with Mercy snapping the shut out with a pair in the eighth. Salva improved to 4-2 with the victory, with Patane's two doubles, one homer and four RBI pacing the attack, and Lucchese also registering a three-hit performance.
Game two was a different story for the Spartans, as Mercy used an unearned run to grab its first lead of the series in the top of the second. A one-out error put a runner aboard and Adonis Garcia doubled to deep center off STAC ace and ECC earned run average leader Frankie Moscatiello. Lucchese knotted the game in the home third on a booming drive to the power alley in deep left-centerfield, but the Mavericks struck back with a pair in the top of the fourth. With runners on first and third, Moscatiello's errant pickoff attempt rolled into right field to make the score 2-1, and Scott Kelnhofer's two-out bloop single put the visitors up by a pair.
STAC threatened in the fifth, but three hits and two walks only produced one run, with Luchese scoring on a wild pitch before the Spartans stranded the bases loaded. An error by relief pitcher Christian Allegretti led to two big insurance runs in the top of the seventh, and STAC was unable to mount a threat in the bottom half. Mercy's Noah Kryzak worked 4.2 solid frames to earn the win and Juan Perez finished up for his third save. Moscatiello suffered his first loss of the year to fall to 7-1, and it snapped a personal string of 15 consecutive regular-season victories for the hard-throwing righty.
The series wraps up back in Dobbs Ferry on Sunday, and the Spartans will be off until wrapping up the regular season with a four-game ECC set against LIU Post. St. Thomas Aquinas hosts a Friday contest at 3:30, the middle two will be played on Long Island on Saturday, and things will wrap up on Sunday with a 2:00 pm start. Senior Day festivities will be held before the contest, starting at approximately 1:30.