JACKSONVILLE, Ill. – Junior Thomas McKenna (Bellerose, N.Y./St. Francis Prep) went 2-for-4 with a pair of home runs and a career-high six RBI and Vinny Rossi (Bayside, N.Y./Holy Cross) recorded his 100th career hit, but that was not enough as Victory University scored three runs in the top of the seventh to earn an 8-6 victory over the St. Joseph's College (Brooklyn) baseball team in a United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) loser's bracket quarterfinal matchup in the Small College World Series on Wednesday morning at Lenz Field.
Rossi becomes eighth Bear to accomplish the 100-hit feat with a single in the first inning and is second to do it this year, joining junior Chris Cutrone (Levittown, N.Y./Island Trees HS).
St. Joseph's (29-11) ends their historic 2014 season with a pair of losses after earning the school's first postseason win in school history on Monday, while Victory (31-23) advances to the loser's bracket semifinal against No. 1 seed Cincinnati Clermont scheduled for later today.
After a scoreless 1 1/2 innings it looked like the Bears might be in for another pitcher's duel as sophomore Brian Luebcke (Astoria, N.Y./Monsignor McClancy) tossed two scoreless innings out of the gate. McKenna broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the second with a three-run shot over the left field fence and netting that followed a freshmen Nicholas LoPrinzi (Howard Beach, N.Y./St. Francis Prep) and Francis Rapp (Baldwin, N.Y./Oceanside) singles to put St. Joseph's 3-0.
Luebcke settled in and tossed two more scoreless innings in the 3rd and 4th innings, but the Bears were unable to add on to the lead. Victory finally broke through in the fifth inning using a pair of singles and triple to tie the game up at 3-3.
Luebcke came back out for the sixth and recorded the first out before being pulled after pitching a solid 5 1/3 innings with three earned runs allowed on six hits, while fanning five strikeouts. Victory took their first lead of the game later in the inning on a two-run jack by Myles Hollim just over the right field fence to go up 5-3 and take some energy out of the Bears at the time.
LoPrinzi singled to right before St. Joseph's grounded into a double play and it looked like the Bears were not going to be able to stage a comeback. However, back-to-back two out singles by Rapp and freshman Michael Camerada (Staten Island, N.Y./Monsignor Farrell) put runners on 1st and 2nd with McKenna coming to the plate looking to play the role of hero again. The outfielder would strike once again to left field with a mammoth long ball that brought three runs across and gave St. Joseph's a 6-5 lead heading to the seventh.
Freshman Connor Pasetti (Oceanside, N.Y./Oceanside) came in and pitched the seventh, replacing fellow freshman Anthony Van Sise (Staten Island, N.Y./New Dorp) who tossed 2/3 of an inning. Victory would use three singles, a balk, a hit by pitch and a sacrifice fly to send home three runs of their own and take back the lead at 8-6. Senior Mike Cundari (Staten Island, N.Y./St. Peter's) led off the Bears seventh with a single, but was left stranded along with the tying run in Cutrone to end the game.
Pasetti took the loss for St. Joseph's going an inning with three runs surrendered on three hits to fall to 1-1.
Rapp continued his strong tournament with another perfect 3-for-3 day with two runs scored, while Cundari ended with a 2-for-3 day with a double. LoPrinzi concluded his freshman season with a 2-for-4 morning with a run scored.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- Other Contributors: Rossi (1-for-4) Domenick Camerada (1-for-3) Michael Camerada (1-for-3, R)
- The game was well played defensively as neither team made an error.
- Each team used three pitchers on the day.
- After recording only two hits yesterday, the Bears knocked 11 today but Victory was able to record 12.
- Neither team stole a base on the day.
- St. Joseph's stranded seven runners on the afternoon and Victory left nine men on base.
THE BEAR FACTS
- Today's meeting was the first ever between the two schools.
- Today's game was the last for seniors Joe Mendez, Cundari, Donny Pagano, Chris Vargas, Chris Pacifico and Simon Diaz. The six seniors were a part of 77 wins over their four years, which is a school record for a senior class.
- Mendez concludes his career as the Bears all-time leader in hits (174), doubles (60), home runs (20), RBI (154), total bases (302), slugging percentage (.606) and games started (142). The outfielder ends his career as a 349 career hitter and finishes with 119 career runs scored.
- Cundari caps off his career with a school-record 124 runs scored, 940 putouts, 142 games play and is second all-time with 165 hits, 35 doubles and 107 RBI.
- McKenna had multiple home runs in a game for the first time in his career.
- St. Joseph's ends the month of May 5-2 and ends the season with a school-record .725 winning percentage.
- McKenna ends his junior campaign with three home runs and 31 RBI after his big day.
- Rapp ends the tournament hitting a team-best .778 (7-for-9) over the three games.