RIVERDALE, NY - A furious comeback attempt by the Iona College baseball team fell short in an 8-6 loss at Manhattan Monday. The Gaels scored five times in their last two at bats, but were unable to overcome a seven run deficit in the loss.
The Maroon & Gold drew first blood in the second inning to take an early lead. A one out base hit by junior SS Matthew Kriss started the frame. After advancing to second on a passed ball and to third on a sophomore RF Joe Smith sacrifice bunt, Kriss scored on an RBI single by sophomore 2B Bobby Vitulano. Iona had opportunities in each of the first three innings, but was unable to find another run as they stranded five runners in the span.
Manhattan broke through in the third. With two out and a runner on, the inning extended on a sun and wind aided single that put runners on first and third. A two run double by C Ramon Ortega was followed by an RBI single by RF Kyle Gorecki to give the home team a 3-1 advantage. The Jaspers would add five more two out tallies in the fourth and fifth innings to lead 8-1.
After trading zeros in the sixth and seventh innings, Iona began its valiant comeback effort in the eighth. A lead off infield single by rookie DH Jimmy Guiliano was followed by a long home run over the left field fence by senior 3B Chris Burke. Two batters later senior C James Beck doubled to right field. After senior LF Colin Lyall reached on an error, Kriss plated Beck with a sacrifice fly to make the score 8-4.
Vitulano led off the ninth inning with a base hit through the hole. After two quick outs, Burke stepped up and crushed the first pitch he saw over the scoreboard in left field for his second home run in as many offerings. The Gaels got the tying run to the plate in the frame but were unable to complete the rally.
Burke went 4-for-4, with the two bombs and four RBI. It was his third multiple home run effort of his career, the most of any Iona player since the turn of the century. Burke has reached base in 25 straight games and 39 of his last 40 appearances. Beck's eighth inning double extended his hitting streak to a season long 10 games, a stretch that has seen his batting average raise more than 100 points. Guiliano's two hits stretched his hitting streak to five games. Vitulano and senior 1B Michael Chiaravalloti also posted two hits in the loss.
Rookie LHP John Nargoski (2-3) took the loss.
Manhattan had four players with multiple hits including Ortega and sophomore SS Yoandry Galan. Galan had a notable effort in the field with 10 chances including nine assists and three putouts while being involved in both double plays.
The Gaels continue MAAC action this weekend in a three-game series at Siena on Saturday and Sunday (Apr. 6-7).