NEW ROCHELLE, NY - Iona College baseball sophomore Mariano Rivera tossed a complete-game, two-hit shutout in the night cap to help the Gaels in a doubleheader split with Fairfield in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action at City Park. The Maroon & Gold (2-10, 1-1 MAAC) fell 10-8 in wild opening contest before the 5-0 victory in game two over the Stags (5-10, 1-1 MAAC).
A three-hour, forty minute marathon preceded Iona's shutout victory. The Gaels erased a four-run deficit in the bottom of the eighth inning and knotted the score at 6-6.
Iona loaded the bases with no out to start the frame. Sophomore 1B Christian Choman legged out an infield single on a dribbler down the line. Sophomore DH Carmine Palummo and sophomore LF Travis Mistretta were each hit by a pitch. A sacrifice fly by rookie C Chris Russo led to the Gaels first run. Senior 2B Bobby Vitulano drove in the second with a base hit down the left field line. Senior CF Joe Torres followed with the big blow, a two-run opposite field single that tied the score at six apiece.
Fairfield answered with four runs in the top of the ninth to take a 10-6 lead. A two-run, two-out triple by 2B Rob LoPinto proved to be the game winning RBI.
The Gaels mounted a valiant comeback attempt in their last at bat. Choman led off the frame with a hit by pitch. A single to left by Palummo put two runners on. Mistretta bounced into a fielder's choice and was followed by a Russo RBI base hit. Following a pitching change, rookie 3B Tyler Bruno drew a 3-2 walk to load the bases. Vitulano found a hole to drive in the team's second run and put the potential go ahead run on first base. The game ended on a controversial double play as the Stags escaped with the two-run win.
Iona had a chance to rally in the seventh inning. Freshman RF Nick Hogan appeared to be hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and one out but was called back to the batter's box after being ruled to have turned in to the pitch. On the next offering, a check swing led to a 1-2-3 inning ending double play.
Four Gaels had two hits including Choman, Russo, Bruno and Vitulano. Choman scored three times and Russo drove in three runs in the contest. Torres finished 1-for-3 with two RBI and two walks in the loss.
Senior RHP Kenny Dietrich allowed three earned runs on seven hits with a strikeout in the start. Sophomore RHP Max Bruckner took the loss after pitching the ninth.
LoPinto and CF Alex Witkus each had four hits for the Stags. Witkus scored three times and had three stolen bases. RHP Anthony DiMauro earned the win in relief after pitching the last out of the eighth and the first out in the ninth. RHP Christian Fox earned the two-out save.
In the nightcap, Rivera went the distance, tossing seven innings while allowing two hits and walking one with four strikeouts. With a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning, he allowed a leadoff double to LF Billy Zolga. After being sacrificed to third base, Rivera bounced one past Palummo to the backstop. The sophomore catcher pounced on the ball and threw a strike to his battery mate at the plate to nab Zolga and preventing the run from scoring.
A two-run double by Bruno in the top of the second gave the Gaels the 2-0 cushion. Iona added two more in the fourth inning on RBI singles by sophomore SS Vinny DeMaria and Palummo. The Maroon & Gold's fifth tally came in the bottom of the sixth inning as Vitulano collected his third RBI of the day.
Palummo and Bruno were each 2-for-3 to lead the Gaels offensively.
Rivera used 89 pitches, 56 strikes to 33 balls and faced two batters over the minimum in the win. He threw first pitch strikes to 15 of the 23 batters he faced. It was the Gaels first shut out since Apr. 11, 2012 and first in MAAC play since a 7-0 victory over Saint Peter's on Apr. 25, 2009
The two teams complete the three-game series tomorrow at City Park at 1:00 pm.
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