The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team took a late lead before falling, 7-6, in an East Coast Conference battle at Mercy College. The Spartans dropped three-of-four in the series to slide to 16-22 overall and 8-12 in the ECC, with Mercy improving to 17-23-1, 9-11. STAC is now two games out of a playoff slot for the ECC Tournament with eight games remaining in the regular season.
Chris Cepeda earned the start for the Spartans after taking the loss in Thursday's series opener and was strong early. STAC got on the board in the opening frame on Andrew Jemison's RBI single and that 1-0 lead held up into the home fifth. Mercy pushed across two in that inning to take the lead, with the go-ahead run scoring on a wild pitch. The Mavericks tacked on another in the fifth to make the tally 3-1, but the Spartans showed life with an explosive seventh inning.
With one down, Jonathan Cepeda stroked a double and came in on Dylan Klock's pinch-hit single to cut the deficit to one. Anthony Maisano followed with a single and Michael Morgan's ground rule double knotted the score at 3-3. Jemison came through again with a big two-run single, and later came around on Brian Donnelly's single to open a 6-3 advantage.
That lead would be short-lived, however, as the hosts touched the STAC pen for three in the bottom half to once again draw even. John Mooradian's two-out, bases loaded double brought in the tying runs, setting the stage for the eventual winning run coming in to score on another wild pitch in the bottom of the eighth. Though the Spartans put a pair on base in the final frame, they were unable to come up with the big hit.
Morgan had three of his team's 11 hits and Jemison knocked in three runs, while reliever Darnell Chandler was tagged with the loss. Mooradian had four hits and drove in four to pace Mercy.
The Spartans will try to keep their post-season hopes alive with a big ECC series against Queens College this weekend, with single road games on Thursday and Friday, and a Saturday double-header at Palisades Credit Union Park in a 1:00 pm start.