The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team closed strong for a 15-8 victory over Franklin Pierce University at the USA Baseball National Training Center in Cary, NC. Their slow start in the rearview mirror, the Spartans captured five wins in six games during the North Carolina leg of their southern trip, improving to 5-7 overalll while FPU now stands at 6-4.
Thursday's game was a rematch of STAC's second of the season, in which the Ravens captured a 2-0 win. This game started very differently, with Franklin Pierce plating a second-inning run and following with a 4-run third, as Jethro Hurt's two-RBI hit helped his squad open a 5-0 lead. The Spartans got one back on a double-steal, with Michael Morgan taking home, and Cris Ruiz following with an RBI single to cut the gap to 5-2.
Pierce tacked on solo runs in the fourth and fifth innings to open a 7-2 gap, but the Spartans rallied for four in the sixth to draw within one. Dylan Klock and Jonathan Cepeda each drove in runs with another scoring on a passed ball and Cepeda scoring on a balk, but the Ravens got one back in the bottom half for an 8-6 edge through six.
Angelo Baez stroked a run-scoring single in the eighth to close the gap back to one, setting the stage for STAC to pull out its second ninth-inning rally of the trip. Morgan and Brian Donnelly led off with back-to-back walks and Tyler Patane singled to load the bases with none out. Klock singled to tie the score, and Paul DeVito working out a walk to give the Spartans their first lead of the day. The rally was far from over as Andrew Jemison and Donnelly each added two-RBI doubles and STAC sent 12 batters to the plate in blowing the game open with an 8-run ninth.
Donnelly had three of the 14 hits for St. Thomas Aquinas, while Nicholas Martino and Jonel Ozuna responded with three each for FPU.
The Spartans will now head to Colonial Heights, Virginia, to conclude their trip with three games against Bloomsburg University. The squads will play a double-header on Friday, March 15, starting at noon, followed by a 1:00 pm single game the following day. STAC returns north to meet Felician University on the road on Wednesday, March 20, before playing their home opener the next day against the College of St. Rose with first pitch set for 3:30 at Palisades Credit Union Park.