Bears Complete First .500 Season Sweeping Yeshiva on Senior Day
BROOKLYN, NY – The St. Joseph's College (Brooklyn) baseball team sent seniors Joseph Boccia (Westwood, NJ/Westwood) and Danny Contant (Staten Island, NY/Xaverian) off with a four-game winning streak and the first .500 or better season in the five-year history of Bears baseball, sweeping Yeshiva University 10-0 and 6-1, on Sunday afternoon at MCU Park to finish their 2012 campaign at 18-17.
Several other milestones and records were reached in the victory as head coach Scott Losche notched his 100 career victory after the game two win. His 18 wins this season is the most in his eight-year career after previous stints at Baruch and CCNY.
Junior Paul Piccirillo (Brooklyn, NY/Xaverian) improved his record for wins in a season, moving to 9-0 on the mound with a two-hit shutout in the opener, striking out four and walking four. The two hits matches the Bears record for fewest hits in a seven-inning complete game.
Leadoff hitter Thomas McKenna (Bellerose, NY/St. Francis Prep) concluded his rookie campaign finishing with 49 hits, matching a Bears single-season record set by Kevin Diaz (Staten Island, NY/Monsignor Farrell) last season.
Junior Chris Vargas (Brooklyn, NY/Nazareth) took the hill in the finale and tossed six innings of one-hit ball and gave up just one unearned run to notch his second win of the season. Joe Mendez (Staten Island, NY/Monsignor Farrell) led the Bears at the plate with a 4-for-7 day, four RBI, two runs and two doubles. Mike Cundari (Staten Island, NY/St. Peter's) added three hits, two RBI, a run and a double.
St. Joseph's started the scoring in the opener on a Chris Cutrone (Levittown, NY/Island Trees, HS) two-out single in the second that brought home Cundari who led off with a double.
Yeshiva threatened in the top of the third loading the bases aided by three Piccirillo walks. The Bears escaped the jam with a bit of luck as Vinny Rossi (Bayside, NY/Holy Cross) dropped a shallow fly ball to left, but with the runners forced to stay near their bags, Rossi was able to recover and the Bears ended up forcing out the runners at home and third for the inning-ending double play.
The Bears used the momentum to plate two runs in the home half of the inning on started by a two-out double from Mendez that plated Boccia and scoring the next batter on a Cundari single. Mendez and Boccia teamed up again in the fifth to plate a solo run on a sacrifice fly that put the Bears up 4-0.
The four run cushion was more than enough for Piccirillo who allowed only three more baserunners in the final four innings, two erased by the Bears defense caught stealing and picked off. St. Joseph's put the game out of reach with six runs in the sixth highlighted by a Steven Ellis (Broad Channel, NY/St. Francis Prep) two-run single with the bases loaded clearing the bases and scoring himself after two Yeshiva miscues on the play. Boccia also scored on the play, capping a three run game, improving his Bears all-time record to 109 tallies.
With the .500 season on the line, the one win Maccabees kept the finale a one-run ballgame until the Bears broke it open with another large sixth inning. Yeshiva scored their lone run of the day in the first without a single hit, taking advantage of two Bears errors and scoring on a fielder's choice.
St. Joseph's immediately answered with two runs in the bottom half, Mendez delivering a two-run double that scored McKenna who led off the frame with his record-tying hit and Ellis who reached on an error.
The Bears managed to get base runners to scoring position in each inning through the fifth, but couldn't deliver any home, finally breaking through in the sixth for four runs taking advantage of two Maccabee errors and a balk that scored a run. Boccia started the scoring in the inning knocking an RBI single to left in his final collegiate at-bat, finishing as the all-time leader with 142 hits. Cundari capped the scoring with an RBI double off the left-field wall, hitting successfully in 15 of the last 16 games.
Vargas kept the game in check, holding the Maccabees to their lone hit in the top of the fourth and assembling their best threat to score again following it up with a walk, but Cundari caught back-to-back runners attempting to steal third to diffuse the threat. The Maccabees would managed just one more baserunner of the final three frames with Vargas working near perfect fifth and sixth frames before handing over to Matt Brigando (Brooklyn, NY/St. Edmund Prep) who worked a 1-2-3 seventh in a non-save situation to close out the win.
After producing their most successful season with a young core and losing only two players to graduation, the future is bright for the Bears.