Purple Knights' baseball team to play on Saturday

The University of Bridgeport baseball team moved on to Championship Saturday in the 2015 East Coast Conference Championship Tournament by surviving the losers’ bracket with a hard-fought, 4-1 victory in 12 innings over the LIU Post Pioneers in Friday’s final of three games in the tournament being hosted by Molloy College at Mitchel Field in Uniondale, N.Y.

The second-seeded Purple Knights, who are now 25-23, on the season, will face the third-seeded St. Thomas Aquinas College Spartans at 12 p.m. on Saturday.

UB, coached by Milford's Joe Tonelli, must defeat STAC twice to win the 2015 ECC baseball title and advance to the NCAA Division II Championship Tournament that will take place next weekend.

The Purple Knights and the Spartans met in the tournament’s opening game on Thursday and STAC prevailed, 5-1.
LIU Post completes its 2015 campaign with an 18-18 record.

Earlier on Friday, Bridgeport rallied to knock top-seeded Dowling College out of the tournament with a 6-5 win.

After both teams scored single runs in the third inning, the Purple Knights’ tally crossed the plate on RBI squeeze bunt single by sophomore Casey Ouellette (New Canaan), the Pioneers and the Purple and White would lock up in a classic pitching duel that saw each team not score until Bridgeport plated three runs in the top of the 12th inning.

LIUP’s starter Connor McCarthy completely shut down the Purple Knights working the first 11 innings of the contest allowing only one unearned run on four hits with 11 strikeouts.

McCarthy’s exit turned out to be the break that Bridgeport would need, as UB capitalized on the wildness of relief pitcher and loser in the game, Dillon Burke, scoring three runs on only one infield hit.

Senior Tim Bickford (Wallingford) opened the decisive top of the 12th with an infield single.

Next, junior Dave Egeland (Toms River, N.J.) drew a walk, and ground out by sophomore Casey McCone (Milford) moved the runners up to second and third.

Junior Alec Jannotta (Branford) was then intentionally walked to load the bases, and freshman Ben Torres (Hollywood, Fla.) was hit by a pitch to force in a run and give UB a 2-1.

The Purple Knights would add two more insurance tallies on bases-loaded walks issued to sophomore Tyler Gambardella (West Haven) and Casey Ouellette for his second RBI of the game.

On the mound for the Purple Knights, freshman reliever PJ Martino (Medford, N.Y.) was simply outstanding picking up his second win of the day to up his season record to 4-4.

Against LIU Post, Martino worked 7.2 innings in relief of starter Brian O’Keefe (Milford) allowing no runs on five hits, as he walked two and fanned one.