Uniondale, N.Y. - The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team plated four first-inning runs and Matt Kostolos went the distance in a 5-1 victory over Bridgeport in the opener of the East Coast Conference Baseball Tournament at Mitchel Park in Uniondale, N.Y. The Spartans advance in the winner's bracket of the tournament and will face the winner of the Dowling-LIU Post contest tomorrow, Friday, at 1:00 PM.
With the win, STAC improves to 25-17-1 overall while Bridgeport drops to 23-23. The Purple Knights now play in the Loser's Bracket where they will meet the loser of Thursday's second game at 10:00 am Friday.
Thursday's tournament opener marked the fifth straight game between the two combatants, with No. 2 seed Bridgeport having taken three of four in last weekend's regular-season ending series. The No. 3 seeded Spartans had different ideas, jumping to an early lead on Purple Knights' ace Rob Anderson, who carried a perfect 6-0 record into the afternoon.
Joseph Pena got the ball rolling with an infield hit but remained on second two outs later. ECC Rookie of the Year Giovanni Dingcong was hit by a pitch, and Christian Santo put the Spartans on the board with an RBI single. Dingcong would then score when Brandon Fischer's grounder was mishandled by third baseman Casey McCone, plating a second run and opening the door for STAC, as Rich Cesca, Jr's double down the right field line brought in a pair, extending the gap to 4-0.
Spartan starter Matt Kostolos was in charge early, retiring the first eight Bridgeport batters and allowing just a Ben Torres single through three innings. St. Thomas Aquinas added a run in the fourth when Fischer led off with a walk and came in with two out on a Pena fielder's choice.
Kostolos carried his one-hitter into the home sixth, when Jose Negron and John Ascenzia tried to spark a two out rally with consecutive singles, but STAC's right-hander escaped any damage.
Anderson gave way after six solid innings, with just two of his five runs allowed being earned, and reliever Andrew Oswald followed with three hitless frames, but Kostolos was on top of his game in carrying a 5-0 lead into the ninth. Torres would snap the shutout with two down on his second hit of the day, an RBI triple bringing in Alec Janotta, but that would be the extent of the Purple Knights' scoring.
STAC, which scored all five runs after two were out, was limited to just four hits on the afternoon, with Cesca accounting for a pair. Kostolos scattered six hits in improving to 7-4 on the season, dropping Anderson to 6-1. Negron and Torres each had two hits for the Purple Knights.
Provided by the St. Thomas Aquinas Sports Information Department.