PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. - The Saint Michael's College baseball team opened its 2017 season with a sweep at the hands of Pace University, 4-0 and 14-2, on Saturday during Northeast-10 Conference play at Finnerty Field. The Purple Knights were playing their first games under first-year head coach Jason Szafarski, while the Setters improved to 9-7 in addition to beginning their league slate.
Saint Michael's took on Pace for only the third and fourth times ever, having also visited Pleasantville for a twinbill in 2013. The Setters, who have now won six of their last seven, claimed at least a share of the last two NE10 Southwest Division titles. Their 27-9 home mark the last two seasons is the best among all 15 NE10 squads.
Sophomore Joe Robertson (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex) batted 2-for-4 with a double in the opener for the visitors, while classmate Sean Winthrop (Hopkinton, Mass./Lawrence Academy) was 1-for-3. Sophomore Trevor Allen (Dennis, Mass./Dennis-Yarmouth Regional) allowed all four runs, three of which were earned, on six hits in 5.1 innings. He struck out three and walked three before classmate Drew Farris (Andover, Mass./Saint John's Prep) spun 2.2 shutout innings of relief, allowing only two hits.
Junior Paul Piccolino was 3-for-4 for Pace, and senior Domenick Luongo slugged a two-run home run. Junior Ryan Aquino hurled a complete-game three-hitter, striking out six and walking two.
Saint Michael's threatened immediately, with senior Steven Auger (Hopkinton, N.H./Hopkinton) leading off the game with an eight-pitch walk before Robertson beat out an infield single. However, Aquino struck out the next batter before inducting an inning-ending double play. In the home half, senior John Kukura reached on a leadoff error, advanced on a wild pitch and a single, then stole home when a throw went to second base.
Winthrop singled with one down in the next frame before senior Drew Salk (Billerica, Mass./Billerica Memorial) was hit by a pitch, but the two were stranded, as Aquino set down 21 of his final 24 batters. Luongo's two-run home run in the fourth pushed the lead to 3-0, and the Setters added an insurance run in the sixth.
In the nightcap, junior PJ Jasak (Palmer, Mass./Wilbraham & Monson Academy/Le Moyne) was 2-for-4 with a walk, and Robertson finished 1-for-3 with a run, a triple and two bases on balls. Winthrop knocked in a run, while sophomore Cole Reilly (Milton, Vt./Milton) and first-year Connor Hopkins (Windham, N.H./Windham) both picked up their first college hits, with Hopkins doubling on the first pitch he saw. He also walked and scored. Junior Zack Lanzillo (Rutland, Vt./Mount Saint Joseph Academy), who made his first appearance since last March 23 while earning his initial NE10 start, took the loss after allowing five earned runs over 1.2 innings. Classmate Colin Brennan (Braintree, Mass./Boston College HS) tossed two scoreless frames in relief.
Piccolino was 2-for-4 with two runs, two RBIs and a triple, junior Matthew Kurdewan went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a triple, and three others had two hits. Senior Anthony Rocco worked six innings of five-hit, shutout ball to earn the win. He struck out nine and walked four.
Robertson tripled with one down in the first before Rocco fanned the next two hitters, and Lanzillo left runners at the corners by striking out his final batter in the home half. Pace scored nine runs on five hits and two errors in the second, with Piccolino knocking a two-run triple and Kurdewan providing a three-run three-bagger. Back-to-back two-out RBI singles in the third pushed the lead to 11-0. Saint Michael's stranded two runners in the fifth before leaving the bases loaded in the sixth, but Hopkins and Robertson both scored in the seventh thanks to a run-scoring wild pitch and Winthrop's RBI fielder's choice. Three more Setters scored in the home half.
The Purple Knights visit regionally-ranked Adelphi University tomorrow for a 12 p.m. twinbill. The Panthers are 10th in the latest National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) East Region poll.