The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team settled for an East Coast Conference double-header split at Mercy College, winning the opener by a 4-1 count before dropping the finale, 5-2. The Spartans are now 16-21 overall and 8-11 in ECC play, with Mercy standing at 16-23-1, 8-11. With nine regular season games remaining, STAC is tied with Mercy in the conference standings, both 1.5 games behind Bridgeport for the fourth and final berth in the ECC Tournament.
Originally scheduled for Saturday, the twin-bill was moved to Mercy due to the forecast of inclement weather, setting the unusual stage of the Spartans playing as the "home" team in both games. STAC scored all the runs they would need in the second inning of the opener, as Anthony Maisano came across with the first run on a balk by Mavericks' starter James Jakuba. A throwing error allowed Tyler Patane to score, and James Versage came through with an RBI single to open a 3-0 lead.
TJ Gregory was strong from the outset and was touched for an unearned run in the top of the fifth as a fielding error opened the door for Miguel Ortiz Sanchez' run-scoring hit to draw within two. STAC got that run right back in the bottom half as Jared Vanderhoof led off with a double, was sacrificed to third, and scored on a Michael Morgan sac fly to score the game's final run.
Gregory gave up just the one unearned run on seven hits and six solid innings before giving way to Christian Allegretti, who slammed the door in allowing just one baserunner and no hits over the final three innings to earn his first save of the season. Tyler Patane turned in his second straight three-hit game to lead STAC.
Mercy took a 1-0 lead in the third inning of game two as Ortiz Sanchez drove in a run with a single, but the Spartans quickly jumped ahead with a pair in the bottom half. Back-to-back singles by Brian Donnelly and Angelo Baez set the table for a game-tying sacrifice fly by Versage. Baez scored as Vanderhoof reached on a fielder's choice as STAC jumped on top. Solo runs in the fourth and fifth put the Mavericks back on top, setting the stage for a turning point in the bottom of the fifth.
ECC Player of the Week Kyle Lagrutta led off with a single and Donnelly's double put runners in scoring position with none out. Though STAC added a runner with one out to load the bases, the Spartans came up empty, and followed the same script the following inning, putting runners at first and third with one out and failing to break through. Mercy added a pair in the top of the seventh to seal the win and gain the split.
After his dominant finish in the first game, Allegretti started the back end, allowing one run over 2.1 innings before giving way to Alex Mack, who was tagged with the loss in relief.
The series wraps up at Palisades Credit Union Park on Tuesday, April 23, in a 4:00 pm start at Palisades Credit Union Park, with Mercy serving as the "home" team.