The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team split an East Coast Conference double-header with Molloy College at Palisades Credit Union Park. The teams split the four-game series, with STAC now standing at 11-18 overall and 3-9 in ECC play, with Molloy at 9-18, 6-6.
Molloy jumped on top on a third inning sac fly but the Spartans jumped in front in the bottom half as Angelo Baez' two out RBI hit put his team on top. The Lions scored two more in the fourth and one in the sixth to grab a 4-2 edge, but Baez drove in another with an infield hit in the home seventh to cut the margin to 4-3. A ninth inning RBI single by Chris Peralta seemed to provide an important insurance run for Molloy, but it wouldn't matter as STAC staged a stirring ninth-inning comeback.
With one out, Andrew Jemison and Jarred Vanderhoof recorded back to back singles to put runners at the corners, and Vanderhoof stole second to put the tying runs in scoring position. Baez fanned for the second out of the inning, and Tyler Patane was intentionally walked to load the bases, a move the proved to be costly when Cris Ruiz followed by working out another free pass, forcing in a run to bring STAC within one. Michael Morgan became the hero of the game, sending a towering drive to left that caromed off the top of the wall, bringing in the tying and winning runs.
Baez came on in relief and recorded the final out of the top of the ninth to take the win, while Lucas Burden was tagged with the loss for the Lions.
Game two was an even wilder affair, requiring extra innings to determine the victor. Molloy pushed across a run in the visiting first put the Spartans responded with four in the third as Anthony Maisano and Vanderhoof each provided run-scoring singles. The Lions cut the gap to 4-3 with a pair in the top of the fourth but STAC answered with three in the bottom half as Maisano singled in a pair of runs and Jonathan Cepeda brought in another on a sac fly to open a 7-3 advantage.
Once again, Molloy closed the gap in the following inning, stringing together four hits to push across a pair of runs, making the score 7-5. The relievers took charge from there as STAC's Reyan Mustafoski traded zeroes with Lions reliever Billy Wildeman and the Spartans carried that two-run edge into the final inning. Scott Hannon, who worked an effective eighth inning, ran into trouble and bad fortune in the ninth, as a walk, a hit batter, and a bad-hop infield single plated a run with two down, and a wild pitch brought across the tying tally.
STAC had a golden opportunity to walk off in the home tenth with Kyle Lagrutta reaching on an error and Morgan lacing a double to put runners at second and third with none out, but Wildeman battled back to escape the jam. That proved costly as the Lions rapped out three doubles in the top of the 11th to drive in two runs and provide the final margin of victory.
After taking the win in the opener, Baez was tagged with the game two loss, with Wildeman working seven strong relief wins to grab the win and Anthony Vano finishing up for the save. Morgan and Maisano had three hits each in the 11-hit attack.
The Spartans are back in action on home turf on Tuesday, April 9, taking on Bloomsburg University in a 3:30 pm start at Palisades Credit Union Park. They will then host a four-game ECC weekend series against Lincoln, with single games Friday and Sunday and a double-header on Saturday, all at PCU Park.