NEW ROCHELLE, NY - A six-run opening inning helped lead the Iona College baseball team to a 8-3 victory against Saint Peter's this afternoon at City Park and in the process, clinch a berth into next week's MAAC Championship in Buffalo. It is the first time the Gaels (20-21, 13-8 MAAC) have earned a championship spot since 2000.
Playing as the visiting team despite playing at its home park following a relocation of today's game, Iona put six runs on the board in the first inning as five runs were scored before an out was recorded. Fran Kinsey led the game off with a double to put runners on first and second after Matt Byrne drew a walk. Sean Breen tallied the first RBI of the game with a single down the left field line to plate Kinsey.
After Niko Switalla walked to load the bases, Alex Beckett pushed the advantage to 3-0 with a two RBI double down the left field line. Sean Scales followed his own two RBI double before the final run of the inning came on the first out, a sacrifice fly to centerfield from Seth Hoagland to score Scales.
The Gaels added a run each in the fourth and fifth to extend the margin to 8-0. Kinsey posted a RBI triple in the top of the fourth to score Hoagland while Beckett drove in Sean Breen in the fifth with a single to left center.
Saint Peter's (0-35, 0-21 MAAC) scored twice in the bottom of the fifth and once in the sixth to cut into the deficit, however, the pitching trio of Patrick Ryan, Andrew Camiolo and Jared Finkel kept the Peacocks away from a comeback.
Ryan opened the game with six innings of work, surrendering one earned run while striking out two. In just two innings of work, Camiolo notched four strikeouts before Finkel tossed a scoreless ninth with a punch out.
Beckett finished the afternoon with a team-bests of four hits and three RBI. Scales added two hits and two RBI while Breen scored twice on two hits.
The Gaels join Canisius, Fairfield and Marist as the four teams that have clinched MAAC Championship berths with one week left in the regular season. Iona last played in the conference tournament in 2000 when Manny Pizarro was named to the All-Championship Team.
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