NEW ROCHELLE, NY - The Iona College baseball team split a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference doubleheader with Niagara at City Park Saturday. The Gaels took the opener 2-1 before dropping the night cap 4-3. It was the fourth and fifth straight contests decided by just one run and seventh in Iona's last nine contests.
The trio of senior RHP Kenny Dietrich and sophomores LHP Andrew Pucillo and RHP John Daddino combined to allow just one run in the opener. The Purple Eagles scored their lone run in the top of the seventh chasing Dietrich after 6.1 strong innings. Pucillo came on and picked off a runner at first base. After allowing a walk, he induced a fly ball to end Niagara's threat and then faced three batters in the eight. Daddino came on in the ninth and threw nine strikes and left the tying run in scoring position. On his first pitch, 1B Joel Klock went the other way through the left side for a base hit. DH Pavel Chavez-Rusov bounced the next pitch high in the air and reached on an infield hit. On Daddino's third pitch, a sacrifice attempt by CF Taylor Hackett was popped up right to sophomore 1B Christian Choman for the first out. Daddino struck out the final two batters on six pitches to earn his third save of the year.
Iona scored its runs in a wild bottom of the sixth. Sophomore SS Vinny DeMaria led off with a base hit. Two batters later Choman hit a slow roller to short, the shortstop's throw could not be handled by his first baseman and the ball went all the way to the bullpen and allowed DeMaria to score and Choman to advance all the way to third. With rookie C Alex Beckett at the plate, Choman came in on a wild pitch to give Iona a 2-0 advantage.
DeMaria, Choman and junior LF Jimmy Guiliano had two hits apiece for the Gaels with rookie 2B Tyler Bruno collecting the seventh of the contest. Dietrich earned the win, scattering six hits with five strikeouts in 6.1 innings of work. Pucillo walked one and did not allow a hit in 1.2 innings while Daddino struck out two in the ninth.
Chavez-Rusova was the lone Purple Eagle with multiple hits in the 2-for-3 effort. Junior RHP Jordan Schwartz took the loss.
In the nightcap, six of the game's seven runs were scored in the opening frame. Sophomore RHP Mariano Rivera allowed three runs on three hits and three walks in the opening inning and allowed just four base runners the rest of the way.
Senior CF Joe Torres led off Iona's first turn at the plate with a base hit to center field. He stole his team-leading 18th base of the season. Two batters later Guiliano walked. With two out, back-to-back singles by rookie DH Kyle DiVico and Beckett led to the team's three runs.
The decisive run for Niagara came in the top of the third inning. 2B Mike Fuhrman found the right centerfield gap and legged out a triple to lead off the frame. He scored on 1B Greg Rodgers sacrifice fly to right field.
Six Gaels recorded single hits in the loss. Rivera took the decision in the complete game defeat. He allowed four runs on six hits with four walks and four strikeouts.
Niagara LHP Cody Eckerson earned the win. The visitor's also had six different players responsible for their six hits.
The two teams complete the three-game series at City Park tomorrow at noon.