NEW ROCHELLE, NY - The Iona College baseball team earned a doubleheader split with Niagara in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action at Salesian Field. After scoring 18 runs on 19 hits in a 13-run victory in the opener, the Gaels (13-21, 5-6 MAAC) furious comeback was halted with the tying run on third in a 4-3 defeat in the night cap.
All nine batters recorded at least one hit and scored at least one run in the 18-5 game one victory. All but one recorded an RBI. Senior C James Beck was 3-for-5 with three runs scored and five RBI. He hit a grand slam home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to open up the game for the Maroon & Gold.
Senior 3B Chris Burke also posted three hits, scored three runs and drove in four. In "Jeterian" fashion, Burke reached a significant milestone with his third hit of the day. His long two-run home run to left center was his 200th career base hit, just the fourth performer in Iona history to reach the milestone. The Yankees’ Derek Jeter posted his 3,000th major league hit in similar fashion last season.
Niagara took the lead twice in the contest, scoring a run in the first and then in the fourth to take a 2-1 advantage. Iona answered both times and exploded for eight runs in the bottom of the fourth. Six of the squad's seven hits were singles.
In the bottom of the sixth and a 9-4 advantage, the Gaels loaded the bases with no outs. Beck stepped up and cracked his first collegiate grand slam home run to give the home team a 13-4 lead. Iona added another in the frame and two each in the seventh and eighth innings.
Burke made history in the eighth, smacking an 0-1 offering over the left centerfield fence.
Sophomore LHP Eddie Macaluso (3-4) earned the win. He allowed four earned runs in 5.2 innings pitched with three strikeouts. Rookie LHP John Nargoski tossed the final 3.1 and allowed a hit with three strikeouts in relief.
In game two, Niagara again got on the board in their opening at bat, plating two to take an early lead. The Purple Eagles held on to a 2-0 lead until their final at bat when they added a crucial insurance run.
Iona began a furious rally in the bottom of the seventh. After a leadoff walk to beck, Lyall drove a ball down the right field line that caught chalk and went all the way to the fence. He legged out a triple to produce the Gaels' first run. Kriss followed with a double to left as the Gaels would bring the tying run to the plate with no out. Two batters later, a one-out single by Capowski drove in Kriss and Iona trailed 4-3. Sophomore CF Joe Torres continued the rally, finding a hole with a base hit through the left side of the infield. Capowski would be pushed to third base on a fielder's choice. Burke then drew a walk to load the bases. On an 0-1 pitch, Niagara closer Jordan Schwartz finally closed the door by inducing a groundout to end the game.
Torres and Lyall had two hits apiece. Senior LHP Justin Wiley (0-1) took the loss. He tossed 53 pitches in his first weekend start after returning from an injury. He allowed two earned runs and scattered six hits with two strikeouts and no walks for the Gaels. Rookie RHP John Daddino had one of his strongest outings of the season in relief. He pitched 4.0 innings allowed a run on two hits with three strikeouts.
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