Flushing, N.Y.-The University of Bridgeport baseball team punched its ticket to the 2017 East Coast Conference Championship Tournament that will begin this Thursday by closing out the regular season with an ECC doubleheader sweep at Queens (N.Y.) College on Monday afternoon in New York City winning game one, 7-5, which clinched the Purple Knights spot in the conference championship tournament, and completing the sweep with a 7-2 victory in game two. UB heads in the ECC Tournament with a 19-23 overall record and a 13-12 conference mark. Queens wraps up its 2017 campaign at 18-23 overall and 10-15 in the ECC.
In game one, the Purple Knights trailed QC, 4-1, heading into the top of the sixth inning. UB would begin its comeback in that inning when junior Daren Grabowski (Berlin, Conn.), who had two hits in the opener, drove home two runs with a two-out double.
In the top of the seventh, Bridgeport would tie the game at 4-4 when senior Dave Egeland (Toms River, N.J.), who had three hits in game one, singled home a run with two outs, and the team would take the lead at 5-4 in the top of the eighth inning with another two-out RBI single by junior Cam Overbaugh (Catskill, N.Y.).
UB added two runs on Queens' errors in the top of the ninth to take a 7-4 lead and held on for the 7-5 win in game one.
Senior Casey McCone (Milford, Conn.) had two hits including a solo home run in game one for the Purple Knights, and teammates, graduate student Zach Burger (Orlando, Fla.) and senior Dylan Steigerwald (Holbrook, N.Y.), also had a pair of hits for the winners in Monday's opener.
On the mound in game one, freshman Jason Burger (Orlando, Fla.) earned his second win of 2017 with 3.1 innings of strong relief, in which he allowed four hits, one run (a solo homer to open the bottom of the ninth), with three strikeouts and two walks. Junior Andrew Oswald (St. James, N.Y.) shut the door on Queens in the ninth inning, as he did not allow a run recording the final three outs of the contest to notch his fourth save of the season.
In game two, Zach Burger hit his sixth home run of the season, a grand slam in the top of the fifth, to give Bridgeport a 4-2 lead which they never relinquished.
Junior Ben Torres (Hollywood, Fla.) had three hits for the Purple Knights in the seven-inning nightcap, and he also drove in two runs. UB also got two hits from juniors Tom Rinaldi (Waterbury, Conn.) and Stephen DiNicola (Rochester, N.Y.) in game two.
Senior Anthony Semonella (Levittown, N.Y.) picked up the win in relief in the second game working three scoreless innings to earn his first victory of the season. Classmate Mike Owens (Pottstown, Pa.) pitched a scoreless seventh to wrap up the win for UB.
Monday's two wins also give fifth-year, University of Bridgeport head baseball coach Joe Tonelli 300 victories for his career. Prior to arriving as the Purple Knights' head coach, Tonelli served as head coach at Albertus Magnus College for 13 seasons where he picked up a total 189 wins.
Up next, the UB baseball team will enter this week's ECC Baseball Championship Tournament as the number three seed, and the Purple Knights will take on the second-seeded LIU Post Pioneers at a time to be determined on Thursday. The 2017 ECC Baseball Championship Tournament will be hosted by Molloy College at the Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. Thursday's other game in the ECC Championship will feature top-seeded St. Thomas Aquinas College versus number four seed, Molloy College.