NEW ROCHELLE, NY - Senior Chris Burke recorded a milestone hit and blasted a three-run walk off home run in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference doubleheader split with Rider at Salesian Field. Burke became the Gaels' all-time hit leader with three hits in the two contests. Iona took the opener 5-2 in nine innings before dropping the night cap 10-3.
The Gaels opened the scoring in the first game, on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the second off the bat of freshman DH Jimmy Guiliano. They took a 2-0 lead in the fourth when sophomore 2B Bobby Vitulano was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
With two out in the top of the fifth Rider got to Iona starter LHP Justin Wiley the only time they would in the contest. The Broncs knotted the score with two tallies in the frame.
Matching zeros over the next four turns at bat, Wiley and Rider starter LHP Tyler Smith were dueling. In the bottom of the seventh with two out, Burke made Iona history by posting his 221st career hit. The number eclipsed former Gael standout Rob Villanova's total and is the most in school history.
With two out in the bottom of the ninth, sophomore CF Joe Torres laced an offering down the left field line for a double. Senior 3B Eric Capowski reached on an infield hit to put two on for Burke. On the first pitch he saw, the senior drilled a pitch over the left center field fence to end the contest. It was his 30th career home run and first of the walk off variety.
Burke, Capowski, senior 1B Michael Chiaravalloti and junior SS Matthew Kriss each had two hits in the win.
Wiley pitched all nine innings allowing five hits while striking out seven. It was his 12th collegiate complete game, setting a modern day (post-1985) school record for the statistic.
After honoring the program's 11 seniors in between games, Iona continued to ride the high of its walk-off win in the opener in their first turn at bat. With a runner on first, Burke turned on a 2-1 pitch and blasted his second home run of the day to give the Gaels a 2-0 lead,
Rider took the lead for good in the third tallying five unearned runs. Senior CF Brandon Cotten's three-run inside the park home run was the big blow. Cotten was able to circle the bases after Torres was shaken up after crashing into the fence in center field his attempt for a spectacular defensive play.
The Broncs scored three more times in the fourth and fifth innings to take an 8-2 advantage. Senior C James Beck drove in the Gaels' final run with an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Seven different Iona hitters were responsible for the Gaels seven hits. Senior RF Colin Lyall doubled off the right field fence on a ball that appeared to carom off the scoreboard above it.
Junior RHP Matt Marley took the loss. He allowed just three hits in 2.2 innings with one strikeout but was tagged for five unearned runs in the decisive third inning.
The Gaels are back in action on Tuesday in a non-conference tilt vs. the Big East's Rutgers on the road. The game serves as a makeup for a previously rained out game scheduled earlier in the month.