Cepeda Deals as Spartans Take Opener from Molloy, 6-1; Spartans Settle for Split

Cepeda Deals as Spartans Take Opener from Molloy, 6-1; Spartans Settle for Split

The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team split an East Coast Conference double-header at Molloy College, winning the opener by a 6-1 count before dropping the nightcap, 16-6. The win snaped the Spartans' eight-game losing streak, as the squad now stands at 10-17 overall and 2-8 in the ECC, with Molloy now at 8-17, 5-5.

After Friday's scheduled series opener was shifted to a Sunday double-header due to inclement weather, the conference rivals squared off for a Saturday twin-bill on Long Island with STAC's Chris Cepeda squaring off with Molloy's Timothy Panetta. The starters traded zeroes through four innings before the Spartans broke through in the fifth. With two out and nobody on, Jaden Jorgensen was hit by a pitch, advanced on an Andrew Jemison single, and the bases were loaded when Michael Morgan was hit by a pitch.

That set the stage for Angelo Baez to put the visitors on top with a two-run single, though the Lions cut the deficit in half on Chris Peralta's RBI single in the sixth to make the score 2-1. The lead held until the top of the eighth, when Baez led off with a double, knocking Panetta out of the box. Two batters later, pinch-hitter Dylan Klock was credited with an RBI while reaching on an error to make the tally 3-1.

Cepeda continued to cruise as his Spartans added three big insurance runs in the top of the ninth as Jemison singled home Anthony Maisano and Tyler Patane broke the game open with a two-out, two run single. That was more than enough for Cepeda, who did not allow a hit after the sixth inning and retired 11 of 12 batters to close out the win and improve to 4-3 on the season. Baez recorded three hits to spark the 11-hit STAC attack.

Game two was in little doubt after the Lions roared to an 11-run second inning, which included a stretch of nine straight batters reaching safely on eight hits and a hit batter. STAC threatened to make the game interesting by answering with six in the top of the third, keyed by a bases-loaded triple by Jemison, but the hosts responded with three in the bottom half as Andrew Nacinovich singled in a pair to open a 14-6 gap and Molloy never looked back.

John Greeley started and took the loss for St. Thomas Aquinas, with Anthony Pedraita picking up the win in relief for the hosts.

The four-game series wraps up on Sunday at Palisades Credit Union Park with game one slated to start at 1:00 pm.