BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Senior pitcher Thomas Mariano allowed a first inning run on a pair of hits but nothing more as Moravian knocked off its third nationally ranked opponent of the season with an 8-1 victory against No. 6 Kean in non-conference action Monday at Gillespie Field.
With the win, the Greyhounds improve to 23-6 on the year, and the squad has defeated Kean, then-No. 17 Keystone and then-No. 25 Adrian. Moravian is 8-2 this year versus teams that have been ranked or receiving votes in the D3baseball.com Top 25 poll at some point in 2014. The Hounds received 12 points in last week's poll.
"The kids just playing hard right now," head coach Paul Engelhardt said. "It doesn't matter who we're playing, they just want to show up and play. Our guys have reached a point of its not who we're playing but they have to play us. I think they believe it. We knew that we've been playing good but you're only as good as today. Today we were pretty good."
Mariano tossed the first seven innings with a run on three hits and five walks while striking out four batters to improve to 3-2 on the season. Senior Ben Hammel finished off the final two innings with a hit allowed but only faced the minimum six batters with a double play.
"Tommy wanted the ball today," Engelhardt said. "We talked in New York this weekend about who was pitching the games this week and when we said Kean might be at home, Tommy had a big grin on his face and said that was the game he wanted. That is what you want from a senior that has innings under his belt and has pitched in big games against big teams before. He went out and did a great job.
Kean opened the scoring in the top of the first inning with two hits from their first three hitters.
Moravian answered back with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the first to take a 2-1 lead. After three walks to start the inning, sophomore first baseman Charles Savite hit an RBI sacrifice fly to score freshman outfielder Anthony Gaetaniello. Junior third baseman Ryan Luke followed with a safety squeeze bunt to score junior shortstop Colin Case.
'We took what they gave us early," Engelhardt said. "We were able to scratch across two runs without a hit. That was big because Kean came out and played fundamental baseball with the single, sacrifice bunt and single to score early. To come back and get two runs on what they gave us, you have to take it. It turned the game right there. Our guys kind of took a breath and just played ball then."
The Hounds added a run in the second to push their lead to 3-1. Senior center fielder Joseph Connell led off the inning with a triple into the right field corner, and he scored on a two-out, RBI triple over the right fielder.
Moravian tacked on two more runs in the home half of the third inning to make the lead 5-1. Junior right fielder Matt Hanson started the frame with a single, and junior designated hitter Justin Pilchman reached on a catcher's interference with two outs. Connell followed with an RBI single to left field to score Hanson and an error in the outfield allowed Pilchman to score as well.
The Greyhounds made their lead 6-1 in the fourth. Gaetaniello hit a bunt single with one out to get on base and he eventually scored when Savite hit an RBI ground out.
The Cougars loaded the bases in the top of the fifth inning with no outs but Mariano would get two strikeouts and a ground out to end the threat.
"That was a key inning for Tommy," Engelhardt stated. "That could have made the game close but he did a phenomenal job. I'm absolutely proud of the way Tommy pitched today."
Case led off the seventh with a triple for the Greyhounds as the squad tied the single-game school record with its third triple of the game. It was also the 17th triple of the season for the Hounds, tying the single-season mark. However, Moravian was unable to get Case home.
The Hounds, who would leave 11 runners on base in the game with eight of them in scoring position, had an 11-4 advantage in hits. Connell and Gaetaniello were both 3-for-4 in the game with Gaetaniello driving in three runs as both players scored twice. Case was 2-for-4 at the plate for Moravian.