Hempstead, NY – Jake Liberatore, who played at Iona for two seasons before transferring to Hofstra, hit a game-winning three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Pride pulled out a 6-4 win over the Gaels Tuesday afternoon at University Field. Hofstra had tied the game at three in the bottom of the eighth before Iona went up by one in the top of the ninth.
Hofstra improved to 21-18 on the season with the win, its fifth walk-off victory of the season. Iona fell to 3-37 on the year.
Iona took a 2-0 lead in the fourth on Chris Mariani’s home run. The Pride cut their deficit in half in the bottom of the inning as Steve Harrington doubled and came in on a single off the bat of Nick Marrero. Iona would push another run across in the sixth as Mariani walked to lead off the inning and Jim Kemp fallowed with an RBI double down the left field line that made it a 3-1 game.
Liberatore started the game-tying rally in the eighth as he led off the inning with a single up the middle. Brian Morrell then homered on the first pitch he saw from reliever Eric Gialloreto to tie the score at three.
Luca Lotito put Iona back on top, 4-3, with a leadoff home run in the ninth but Hofstra would not be denied as pinch-hitter Will Kennedy led off the bottom of the inning with a single to left field off Iona closer Gavin Bates. Pinch-runner Frank DiMartino stole second, and following a walk to Anthony D’Onofrio, the pair executed a double steal to put runners on second and third for Liberatore. On a 1-ball, 2-strike pitch, Liberatore took the ball over the fence in left field for his first home run of the season to win the game.
Steven Kaenzig (1-3) earned the win in relief after allowing a run on one hit in 3 1/3 innings. Danny Kelleher started for Hofstra and allowed a pair of runs on three hits with five strikeouts in four innings of work.
Bates (0-3) took the loss for Iona, allowing all three runs on two hits and a walk without retiring a batter.
Liberatore finished the game 2-3 with two runs scored and three RBIs. Marrero was 2-3 with an RBI, while Morrell was 1-4 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Lotito and Jake Field each had a pair of hits for Iona.
Hofstra returns to action Wednesday at Stony Brook in the first meeting between the two teams since the 2010 season.
-Hofstra is 15-20 all-time versus Iona.
-The Pride moved to 10-7 at home in 2022.
-Morrell’s home run was his team-leading seventh of the season and his fourth in the last five games.
-Liberatore and Morrell extended their on-base streaks to 18 and 14 games, respectively.