NEW ROCHELLE, NY - The Iona College baseball team used timely hitting, extraordinary defense and solid pitching efforts by sophomore LHP Eddie Macaluso and senior RHP Derrick Bligh in defeating Fairfield 5-2 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action at Salesian Field. Senior 3B Chris Burke's double off the wall with a runner on second base in the bottom of the seventh inning put the Gaels (8-12, 1-0 MAAC) ahead for good. The Maroon & Gold won its sixth-game in its last eight tries.
After allowing the game's first batter to reach via a hit, Macaluso (2-3) kept the Stags (7-13, 0-1 MAAC) bats grounded until his seventh inning and final inning. He allowed three hits and just one earned run while walking four batters in the 116-pitch effort. Bligh allowed two hits and a walk in the final two innings to earn his first collegiate save.
Iona got on the board in the fourth inning, taking a 2-0 lead. With the bases loaded and one-out, sophomore RF Joe Smith drove home senior C James Beck with a sacrifice fly. A seeing-eye single just over the first place bag off the bat of sophomore 2B Bobby Vitulano plated senior LF Colin Lyall from second base.
Macaluso hit his stride with the 2-0 lead, retiring the eight straight batters starting in the fourth inning.
In the top of the seventh, RF Tyler Wosleger led off with a bloop double between the first baseman and right fielder. A routine base hit to left field off the bat of CF Billy Zolga turned into a triple after a freak bounce skipped the ball over Lyall's head. Zolga scored one pitch later on a passed ball. Macaluso bore down and induced three straight outs to complete his day.
Iona regained the lead in the bottom of the inning. Sophomore CF Joe Torres led off with a base hit through the left side of the infield and was sacrificed to second by rookie DH Jimmy Guiliano. On a 1-0 pitch, Burke's blast was held in the park by the wind and bounded off the left centerfield fence to plate the go ahead run. Three pitches later, Beck hit a bomb that cleared the wall, his fourth home run of the season, a two-run shot that gave the Maroon & Gold a three-run cushion.
Bligh stranded all three runners he allowed to reach base in the eighth and ninth to secure the win.
Both Iona pitchers benefited from some superb defense by their teammates. Smith gunned down a runner trying to score in the bottom of the second inning, completing a double play on a fly ball. In the seventh, Torres made a diving catch going towards the fence in right centerfield that prevented a third straight hit for the Stags to start the inning. All four infielders made spectacular plays throughout the game that kept the momentum in favor of the home team.
Beck, Burke, Torres and Vitulano had two hits apiece to lead the Gaels offensively. Five Fairfield players posted hits for the visitors. Starter Brett Shulick (2-2) took the loss allowing four runs on nine hits in 6.1 innings of work.
The two teams complete the three-game series tomorrow at Salesian Field in a doubleheader slated to start at 12:00 pm.