Spartans Win ECC Tournament Opener, Down Bridgeport, 9-5

Spartans Win ECC Tournament Opener, Down Bridgeport, 9-5

Pomona, N.Y. - The No. 1 seeded St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team advanced in the winner's bracket  with a 9-5 victory over the No. 4 seed University of Bridgeport in the opener of the East Coast Conference at Provident Bank Park. The Spartans now improve to 34-16 and will play in the winner's bracket game No. 4 tomorrow at noon. Bridgeport fell to 16-20 overall and will play in game No. 3, the loser's bracket game at 9:00 am tomorrow.

Bridgeport jumped on top early, pushing across single runs in the first and third innings off Spartan starter Eric Cooper. The Spartans answered with a run in the third when Nick Barbalato's single off Purple Knights' starter Nick Vautrin brought in Frank Salerno. STAC broke the game open in the fourth, getting to Vautrin for seven runs on six hits.

Andrew Romanella's bunt single with the bags jammed brought in Andrew Hancsak to draw the hosts even. Salerno then plated Stanley Susana with a single, and another Barbalato hit brought in two more. When all was said and done, STAC had a commanding 8-2 advantage.

Cooper settled in until running out of gas in the seventh, as control trouble led the Purple Knights to three runs without the benefit of a hit, keeping the contest well within reach. With the bases loaded and two down, Ken Frawley emerged from the pen to record the final out and quell the uprising.

The Spartans tacked on an insurance run in the eighth on a George Wargo single and Frawley took care of the rest, allowing just one hit over the final 2.1 innings to earn his second save of the season and preserve the victory for Cooper, who improved to 6-1 while Vautrin absorbed the loss to fall to 4-8.

Provided by the St. Thomas Aquinas Sports Information Department.