The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team looks to advance to Monday's Championship Final in an elimination game against Southern New Hampshire University at 3:30 pm Sunday in Rindge, NH. SNHU comes in as the #2 seed and a 48-6 record after eliminating Bridgeport, 5-2, this afternoon. The Spartans enter the contest at 37-16.
Where Things Stand - Only 29 teams remain in the running as of this writing (3:00 pm Sunday), with three left standing in the East Region. Dowling sent Bridgeport packing last night, and the Purple Knights owned their own ticket home earlier today.
The Match-Up - This is the first meeting of these teams this season, as the Spartans square off with the NE-10 Tournament Champs and top-10 Nationally ranked Penmen. These squads met last season in the East Regional, with SNHU claiming a 6-3 victory. Sam Vincenzo (3-1, 2.47 ERA) gets the nod for the Spartans, facing Joe McCarthy (4-1, 3.46).
Each team comes in with two wins and a loss this weekend, with STAC topping Molloy and Dowling before falling to Franklin Pierce last night. SNHU dropped its opener to Dowling before rebounding for a decisive victory over Felician, and eliminating Bridgeport.
The Tournament - The NCAA Baseball Tournament is a double-elimination format, with teams requiring two losses to be eliminated. Franklin Pierce has secured a spot in Monday's final and requires just one win to take the regional title. The winner of the STAC-SNHU contest would need to defeat the Ravens twice tomorrow to earn the trip to Cary, NC.
What's Next - Winner to the finals - loser goes home. Season on the line.
STAC Facts - No strangers to close contests, the Spartans have posted an amazing 18-4 record in games decided by two runs or less. They are also 25-2 in games they are leading or tied after six innings.
Pitching has continued to carry the day for St. Thomas Aquinas. Over the first two games, the Spartans have totaled just 11 hits, enough to bring in nine runs. That has been ample support for a staff that has yielded just two runs and eight hits in 18 frames, with Matt Kostolos and Anthony Morris keeping the bullpen fresh with complete-game victories.
Battle Tested - Including Saturday's loss at FPU, the Spartans are now 16-9 in the post-season over the past three years against the best teams in the conference and the region. Over that span, they are 9-6 in NCAA Tournament games, and an impressive 9-4 in East Regionals.
What's At Stake - The winners of each of the eight regions will advance to the NCAA Division II Tournament Championships, held annually in Cary, North Carolina.
Thursday, May 19
Game 1: (4) Felician 3, (5) Bridgeport 0
Game 2: (7) Dowling 4, (2) Southern New Hampshire 0
Friday, May 20
Game 3: (3) St. Thomas Aquinas 5, vs. (6) Molloy 2
Game 4: Southern NH 11, Molloy 5 (Molloy eliminated)
Game 5: (1) Franklin Pierce 18, Felician 0
Game 6: St. Thomas Aquinas 4, Dowling 0
Saturday, May 21
Game 7: Southern NH (1L) 20, Felician (2L) 5 (Felician eliminated)
Game 8: Bridgeport (1L) 7, Dowling (2L) 6 (Dowling eliminated)
Game 9: Franklin Pierce (0L) 12, St. Thomas Aquinas (1L) 8
Sunday, May 22
Game 10: Southern NH (1L) 5, Bridgeport (2L) 2 (Bridgeport eliminated)
Game 11: Southern New Hampshire (1L) vs. St. Thomas Aquinas (1L) -- 3:30 p.m. (loser eliminated)
Monday, May 23
Game 12: Franklin Pierce (0L) vs. Game 11 Winner (1L) -- Noon
Game 13: Game 12 rematch* -- 40 minutes after conclusion of Game 12
* Game 13 only necessary if Game 11 Winner wins Game 12.