RIVERDALE, N.Y. – Sophomore reliever Mike Gazzola threw a scoreless three and a third innings leading Manhattan (13-13-1, 5-2) to a 6-4 victory over Niagara (12-15, 3-4) this afternoon at Van Cortlandt Park in MAAC baseball action. Jaspers’ freshmen Mark Onorati, Chad Salem and senior Marc Giordano each blasted solo home runs in Manhattan’s third straight league win.
Kevin Nieto singled in the first run of the ballgame in the top of the first to put the Jaspers on the scoreboard. The hit extended Nieto’s consecutive game hit streak to 11.
Niagara tagged on a pair of runs in the top of the third to gain a 2-1 advantage. Purple Eagles’ second baseman Harrison Harber and center fielder Frank Kurnik combined for both RBIs. Harber went 2-for-2 with two RBIs on the afternoon.
In the bottom of the third, Onorati evened the contest when he sent his second homer of the season over the left field wall. Onorati’s lead off blast sparked a Jaspers’ rally.
Salem followed reaching base by a double down the left field line, before senior catcher Dom Lombardi connected on an identical hit to drive in the go ahead run. Manhattan entered the fourth with a 3-2 edge.
Manhattan starting right-hander Tom Costigan got into a jam in the sixth loading up the bases with two outs. Costigan walked in the tying run, before turning the ball over to Gazzola.
Costigan was efficient over five and two thirds innings of work. He tallied six strikeouts in the contest.
Gazzola walked Harber in the next at bat allowing the go ahead run to cross the plate. On the ensuing batter, Gazzola worked his way out of the inning forcing Kurnik to ground into the third out of the stanza.
Manhattan wouldn’t trail long, as Eric Nieto led off the bottom of the sixth with his third triple of the season, and seventh of his career. With the hit, Nieto moved into a tie with Matt Cucurullo ’04 on the program’s career triples list.
With Nieto on third, Onorati rose to the occasion connecting on a double to left field facing a full count and two outs. The RBI pulled the Jaspers into a 4-4 tie with Niagara.
Salem put Manhattan on top for good in the seventh when he sent a shot over the left field wall. Two batters later, Giordano sent one into left center to extend the Jaspers lead to 6-4. It marked the third home runs of the season for both Salem and Giordano, a team-high.
Niagara threatened again in the top of the eighth loading up the bases on Gazzola with no one out. Although, Gazzola worked his way out of a jam again forcing right fielder Tim Alberts into a double play. He then struck out Kurnik to silence the threat.
Gazzola allowed just two hits and struck out three leading to his first win of the season.
Manhattan shut down the Purple Eagles in the ninth and secured the first win of the three game series. Onorati, Salem and Lombardi each connected on two hits in the ball game.
The Jaspers are back in action tomorrow for a doubleheader with Niagara. The first game is set for 12 p.m. at Van Cortlandt Park.