FLUSHING, N.Y. – With two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, sophomore Nick Luciano hit a walk-off RBI bunt single to lift the Queens College baseball team to an 8-7 victory over Molloy College in an East Coast Conference (ECC) thriller on Sunday afternoon from Hennekens Stadium.
With the win, Queens improves to 8-13 overall and 2-7 in the ECC, while Molloy drops to 11-17 and 6-4 in ECC play.
Luciano went 3-for-5 in the game with a run, in addition to the game-winning RBI. Fellow sophomore Andrew Navarez went 2-for-3 with an RBI, two walks and two runs, including the game-winning score on Luciano's bunt single.
Neither team wasted any time getting the offense going, as the Knights and Lions both got on the board in the opening inning. After Molloy scored the game's first run on a sacrifice fly in the top of the first, senior Joe Morris ripped a two-run homer to left, the first of his career, to give Queens a 2-1 lead in the bottom half of the first.
Two scoreless innings later, Elijah Leerdam tied the game at two apiece for Molloy with an RBI single down the left field line. The Lions then took a 5-2 lead in the top of the sixth on a two-run double by Jake Saltzman and an RBI single by Ryan Dillon.
Queens broke out the bats again in the bottom of the sixth, regaining the lead with five runs on four hits. Sophomore Joel Mendez started it off with an RBI double to score Luciano, and two batters later, Navarez drew a bases-loaded walk to pull the Knights within one. In the next at-bat, junior Billy Riches struck with a three-run single through the right side, as Navarez, Morris and Mendez scored to give Queens a 7-5 lead.
Molloy pulled within one in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI double by Dillon, and then in the top of the ninth, the Lions tied the game at 7-7 on an RBI single by Leerdam.
With the game tied, Navarez led off with a walk and eventually stole second to put the winning run in scoring position. Navarez then moved to third on a ground out, and after junior Paulino Harrington walked, Luciano came to the plate. With two outs and the game on the line, Luciano bunted down the third base line to bring in Navarez for the game-winning run.
Freshman Rob Backus (2-0) earned the win after giving up two earned over three innings in relief of starter Cameron Burt. Riches went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a walk, while Mendez went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Junior Thomas Parish and Morris each scored two runs apiece for the Knights.
The Knights and Lions will wrap up their four-game series on Monday, April 10, at 3:30 p.m. from Hennekens Stadium.