JAMAICA, NY - The Iona College baseball team used a four-run seventh inning rally in a come from behind 7-6 win at the Big East's St. John's in non-conference action at Kaiser Stadium. The Gaels win was just their fifth win in the last 34 matchups with the Red Storm but the second in the last three seasons.
Iona took an early 3-0 lead after the game's first two innings. Rookie C Carmine Palummo plated the Maroon & Gold's first run in the team's first at bat. Palummo beat out a double play attempt as rookie 2B Matt Byrne crossed the plate on the RBI fielder's choice.
The home team erased its deficit in the bottom of the second inning. A two-run single by DH Jimmy Brennan found a hole through the middle of the infield to account for the Red Storm's first tally. Second baseman Ty Blankmeyer drove in the tying run on a groundout.
St. John's scored a run in the third and two more in the sixth to take a 6-3 lead. Meanwhile, the Gaels offense struggled to find a base hit but drew five walks in their half of the third through sixth innings.
Three straight walks in the seventh inning loaded the bases for the Gaels and brought up Iona's rookie catcher. Palummo drove in Byrne and senior 3B Matthew Kriss with a seeing-eye single to left field to cut the deficit to a run. The throw to the plate hit Kriss in the leg and bounded to the screen allowing sophomore LF Jimmy Guiliano to score all the way from first base. Palummo advanced to third after all was said and done and there were still no outs.
Rookie PH Zach Brown smoked a 3-2 pitch up the middle to plate the go ahead run.
St. John's threatened in the eighth inning. With one out, senior RHP Thomas Kriss struck out SS Kyle Lombardo but his pitch got by the catcher allowing Lombardo to reach base. Palummo's throw sailed wide and put the tying run on second base. Just a few pitches later, Palummo gunned down Lombardo trying to steal third base to end the threat. Kriss caught Brennan looking on an 0-2 off speed pitch to complete the inning unscathed.
A 1-2-3 ninth sealed the win for the Gaels.
Iona drew 12 walks in the game; nine of them came from Byrne and Guiliano. Byrne's official line was 0-for-0 with two runs scored, a stolen base and five bases on balls. His five free passes matched a single-game school record, most recently accomplished by Gael graduate Chris Griffin in 2011. Guiliano also reached base in all five plate appearances going 1-for-1 with a run scored and four walks. Palummo was 1-for-4 with three RBI. Torres had a hit, an RBI and two stolen bases. Matt Kriss and DeMaria accounted for the Gaels other hits in the win.
Rookie RHP Mariano Rivera tossed the game's first five innings. He allowed six hits and four runs with a strikeout in the no decision. Senior RHP Kenny Dietrich and freshman RHP Jake Kurz combined to complete the sixth inning. Kurz through nine pitches and recorded the final out and was credited with his first collegiate win. Tom Kriss earned his third save of the year.
St. John's 1B Frank Schwindel was 3-for-4 while Lombardo and CF Martin Kelly had two hits a piece. Alex Katz took the loss in relief.
The Gaels are now 5-29 vs. St. John's since the 1973 campaign. It is the program's fourth win over a Big East team in the last three seasons including the Red Storm twice, Villanova in 2011 and Rutgers last season.
Iona returns to MAAC play this weekend in a three-game series at Fairfield.