NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- In the lone Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference doubleheader of the day, the Iona College Gaels took down the Niagara Purple Eagles in a sweeping effort. Rookie hurler Marnie Skinner threw a combined nine innings and allowed just two runs, one earned, in a 5-4 come-from-behind win, and 6-1 controlling victorious effort.
GAME ONE: Iona 5, Niagara 4
Sophomore third basemen Kimberly Chiapparelli had two hits, including the game-tying homerun in the fifth inning. Sophomore right fielder Marisa Gergel finished 2-for-3 with two runs batted in, including the game-winning tally in the bottom of the sixth inning. Fellow second-year player Hailey Thompson dished out two hits with one run batted in.
The Purple Eagles got on board first in the top of the third inning with an RBI double from sophomore Maria Gabriele, scoring redshirt junior Brianna Hogan.
Down 4-2 after 5 ½ innings courtesy of a two-run dinger and RBI single to right field by sophomore Jerri Ann Orfano, it was time for Iona’s second-year players to rise to the occasion. Senior shortstop Katie Newton singled with one out in the sixth, and she was eventually forced out at second on a groundball batted by rookie designated player Jasmine Temple. Then on a full count, Chiapparelli crushed her fifth round-tripper of the season to score Temple and knot the scoreboard at 4-4.
Thompson followed Chiaparelli’s homerun with a deep double to the right center field wall. In the nine-hole, senior Kelsey Long was hit for the second of three times on the day, bringing senior leftfielder Ashlynn Morris, and the top of the order to the batter’s box. Morris singled to the pitcher to load the bases.
Gergel rocketed a line drive up the middle, striking Niagara hurler sophomore Sierra Bertrand on the shin. The ricochet allowed time for all runners to be safe, including Thompson with the leading run, capping off a game-clinching three-run, five-hit and momentum gathering sixth inning.
Sophomore Alana Evans went the first five innings for the Maroon & Gold, allowing three earned runs on six hits and nine walks. Skinner came in the sixth, allowed an unearned run while striking out four; the rookie struck out the side in the seventh to seal Iona’s first conference win of the 2017 season.
GAME TWO: Iona 6, Niagara 1
Skinner was dominant in the circle for Iona in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader against Niagara. The rookie went a full seven innings while giving one up earned run on seven hits and two walks. Skinner doled out 111 pitches in route to her fourth win of the season.
Offensively, senior first basemen Kristen Turner had three hits, one run scored and one runs batted in. Temple drove in a game-high three runs while Morris and Long each chipped in one RBI each along with Turner. Six different Gaels crossed the plate.
Iona jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning behind an opposite field double off the bat of Temple. Junior Catcher Tori Danner and Turner both cross the plate as unearned runs courtesy of an error committee by Niagara’s catcher, freshman Rachel Funk.
Two more runs were tagged on in the fourth and fifth respectively before Niagara finally registered itself on the scoreboard in the sixth inning.
Iona converted on 65% of its baserunner advancement opportunities and batted 7-for-17 with runners on base. A .357 batting average with runners in scoring position ensured that the Maroon & Gold opened up MAAC play with a 2-0, first-place earning record.
Iona returns to action tomorrow, Sunday, Apr. 2 against the Canisius College Golden Griffins at Donald E. Walsh Field beginning at 12:00 PM.