The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team saw its 2017 season come to a close with a 7-3 loss to Cal San Diego at the NCAA Division II Championships in Grand Prairie, Texas. St. Thomas Aquinas finished in third place in the tournament, ending their historic season with a 44-17 record. UCSD has now won four straight games since an opening loss to STAC, and will square off with West Chester University on Sunday for the National Championship.
Rain forced suspension of the game on Friday as well as the scheduled continuation of the game Saturday morning. When play did finally resume, STAC ace Frankie Moscatiello worked out of a second-and-third and one out jam in the top of the 1st.
Cal San Diego would push across three in the second, however, with Brandon Shirley's two-RBI single keying the rally. Cris Ruiz got the Spartans on the board in the home 3rd, bringing in Greg Dawber on an RBI double to cut the deficit to 3-1.
Giovanni Dingcong continued his impressive post-season showing with his 20th homer of the year drawing the Spartans to within one. With that shot, Dingcong became just the third player in East Coast Conference history to hit 20 home runs in a season.
Unfortunately, the rain delay took its toll as Moscatiello was forced to depart after 3.2 innings. Reliever Chad Sinko held the Tritons at bay until the top of the 6th, when wildness by Sinko and Chris Pennell yielded three runs, allowing UCSD to open a 6-2 gap.
Bobby Morse doubled home Nick Lucchese to give STAC life in the bottom of the 8th, but Tritons starter Troy Cruz, escaped further damage and his teammates added another in the top of the 9th, with Cruz going on to throw 133 pitches in a complete-game victory. Ruiz was the offensive star for the Spartans with three hits, while Shirley and Michael Palos had three each for UCSD.
St. Thomas Aquinas ended the National Championship with a 2-2 record, becoming the first East Regional Champion since 2013 to register a victory, snapping a string of eight straight losses from the region. The Spartans will return to Rockland County with heads held high after a season that will surely live on among the great accomplishments in the history of the college.