NEW BRITAIN, CT - The Iona College baseball team used two stellar pitching efforts in a doubleheader sweep of Central Connecticut in non-conference action at CCSU Baseball Field. Junior RHP Mariano Rivera threw his second one-hit shutout of the season in a 2-0 victory in the opener and graduate LHP Eddie Macaluso scattered seven hits over six innings in a 3-2 win in the night cap.
Rivera was dominant in the seven inning complete game allowing just one baserunner over his 91 pitches. After allowing a leadoff double to 2B Ryan Costello, he retired the next 21 batters he faced to earn his second shutout of the season. Rivera struck out seven batters and walked none in the win. He has allowed two or less hits in five of his last seven starts and his 90 strikeouts on the season, tied for the third highest single-season total with Iona College Goal Club Hall of Famer Steve Broege in 1971. John Novinsky struck out 92 batters in 2000 and Sean Kramer struck out 108 in 2004 and are the two remaining ahead of Rivera on the list.
Iona rallied in its final at bat for the second straight game for its two runs. Junior RF Kyle DiVico led off with a single and was sacrificed to second. After senior 1B Jimmy Guiliano was intentionally walked, freshman CF Jon Budesa moved the runners to second and third with a ground out to the right side. Freshman 3B Seth Hoagland was then intentionally walked to load the bases. Junior DH Zach Brown came up with the big hit, a two-run single to centerfield to give the Maroon & Gold the only runs it would need for Rivera.
Budesa, Hoagland and junior SS Vinny DeMaria each had two hits for the Gaels in the win.
An inauspicious start to game two saw the Gaels trailing 1-0 after the first inning with an error extending the inning and leading to the Blue Devils' tally.
Iona took the lead for good in the fourth inning. Guiliano's single to lead off the frame was the first hit of the contest for the Gaels. He was sacrificed to second by Budesa. With two out, Brown plated the first run after hitting a ball by the CCSU second baseman. After advancing to second on a wild pitch DeMaria singled him home to give the Maroon & Gold a 2-1 lead.
The Gaels scored a key insurance in in the fifth on three straight two-out singles by DiVico, Guiliano and Budesa.
The Blue Devils got within a run in the sixth inning after a leadoff double and a base hit. Macaluso got three straight outs to strand the tying run on base and turned the ball over to junior RHP John Daddino for the three-out save in the seventh.
Macaluso allowed two runs on seven hits while striking out four batters and walking none. With his second strikeout of the game to the first batter in the bottom of the third inning, he became Iona's all-time leading strikeout king and has recorded 198 in his career. He passed Novinsky's 195 strikeouts, a mark set over three seasons from 1998-2000. He also became the 15th pitcher in school history to record 10 career wins.
Guiliano posted two hits for the Gaels offensively.
The Maroon & Gold is back in action Wednesday when they host NYIT at City Park.