FLUSHING, N.Y. – Playing at home for the first time in nearly a month, the Queens College baseball team was tripped up by East Coast Conference (ECC) leader St. Thomas Aquinas College (STAC) in a doubleheader at Hennekens Stadium on Sunday.
The Spartans (15-10, 6-3 ECC) captured the first game, 12-4, before game two was halted early just after STAC came back to take the lead in the seventh inning.
St. Thomas Aquinas 12, Queens 4
Anthony Morris went eight innings on the mound for the Spartans in game one, keeping the Knights in check. Morris (4-0) only needed 105 pitches, giving up just five hits and striking out five.
The Spartans also had it going offensively, collecting 12 runs on 13 hits. Nicholas Lucchese drove in three runs in his first two at-bats to help give STAC a 4-0 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth inning.
Queens came alive in the bottom of the fourth, as the Knights brought three runs across the plate in the inning. With two men on, junior Joseph Pidoto ripped a single down the right field line to bring in classmate Thomas Parish. Two batters later, sophomore Nick Luciano reached base to score junior Jonathan Temenak, and senior Joe Morris scored on a passed ball to bring the Knights within one at 4-3.
Lucchese came through again for STAC in the fifth with an RBI single through the left side, and the Spartans combined for five more runs in the sixth and seventh to take a 10-3 lead. After STAC added two more insurance runs in the top of the ninth, junior Billy Riches smacked his first homer of the season, a solo shot down the left field line, before the Spartans closed out the 12-4 win.
Temenak went 2-for-4 with a run, while sophomore Joel Mendez also posted a 2-for-4 day. Sophomore Robert Amato was dealt the loss after giving up five hits and four runs (three earned) over 3.1 innings. Lucchese drove in four runs for the Spartans.
St. Thomas Aquinas 4, Queens 2 (F/7)
Queens got the short end of the stick in game two, as the game was called due to darkness just after STAC had taken its first lead of the game in the seventh inning. The Knights entered the seventh with a 2-1 lead behind a strong effort on the mound by junior pitcher Cameron Burt before the Spartans struck.
Burt was impressive over his six innings of work, allowing only three hits and two runs (one earned), while striking out four.
The Knights scored first in the second game, taking a 1-0 lead in the opening inning. Mendez was hit by a pitch, and Pidoto slapped a double to center to put runners in scoring position with one out. Mendez crossed the plate in the next at-bat on a Morris groundout for the game's first run.
After four scoreless innings, STAC tied the game at one apiece in the top of the sixth, but Queens was able to respond immediately in the bottom half of the inning. Mendez drew a leadoff walk, stole second and eventually advanced to third to set the Knights up with the go-ahead run in close range. With two outs, Riches struck again, hitting a single up the middle to bring Mendez in and give the Knights a 2-1 lead.
The Spartans did their damage in the seventh, scoring three runs, ultimately leading to the 4-2 final decision. Cris Ruiz hit a two-run double to center before Joseph Peña hit an RBI single, providing a two-run cushion. Then the sun began to sink as the two teams ventured into the eighth inning, and the game was called.
Mendez went 1-for-1 with two runs, a walk and a stolen base. Sophomore Brian Watters added a pair of hits over the two games. The Knights outhit the Spartans, 6-5, in game two.
Queens (7-10, 1-4 ECC) will look to get back on track on Tuesday, April 4, when the Knights host LIU Post for an ECC game at 3 p.m.