The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team takes on Colorado Mesa University at 8:55 pm in a Winner's Bracket showdown at the NCAA Division II Championships in Grand Prairie, Texas.
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The Tournament - By the time the Spartans, ranked #16 in the nation, face Colorado Mesa in tonight's nightcap, two teams will have been eliminated from the original field of eight. North Georgia suffered it's second straight loss at the hands of Delta State, and Quincy also has seen it's title dreams draw to a close.
The Schedule - STAC plays CMU in Tournament Game 8 tonight at 8:00 in the Winner's bracket. The winner of this game advances to Thursday's Game 11 at 4:00 pm, facing the winner of Game 9. The loser of tonight's game will play an elimination contest against Delta State in Game 10, Wednesday night at 8:00 pm (all times Eastern).
History Made - Several firsts were part of the Spartans' stunning 6-5, 12-inning victory over Cal San Diego on Sunday. Not only was the the first-ever victory for St. Thomas Aquinas at the Division II National Championships, but a 4th-inning play at the plate became the first video review ever used at the DII Championships. On the play, UCSD's Alex Eliopoluos was tagged out at home by Cris Ruiz after a perfect relay from Anthony Shkrelja, and replay confirmed the call on the field for the out. In addition, STAC's win was the first by an East Region squad since the 2013 season, snapping a skid of eight straight losses.
St. Thomas Aquinas - The Spartans (43-15), seeded #3, trailed in their first two East Regional games before rallying to victory, and repeated the theme in Sunday's game vs. UCSD. STAC trailed, 2-0, before Giovanni Dingcong's three run shot gave them the lead, and the Spartans fell behind on two runs in the top of the 12th before winning on an improbably rally consisting of five walks and an error, to snatch a 6-5 victory.
Frankie Moscatello was strong in allowing three runs over seven innings against the hard-hitting Tritons, who were ranked #4 in the nation, while Nick Lucchese aided Dingcong in the offense with a pair of hits.
Since the 2013 season, the Spartans have a 26-15 overall post-season record (12-6 ECC; and 14-9 NCAAs). That total includes an impressive 14-6 mark in games when facing elimination.
Colorado Mesa - The Mavericks (49-10) represent the South Central region and are one of the powerhouses in the field, in search of their 50th victory of the season. Colorado Mesa has won 14-of-15 games overall, and their potent offense is led by Bligh Madris, who has 17 homers, 67 RBIs and a .434 batting average coming in to tonight's game. Madris homered in CMU's 10-3 victory over Quincy on Sunday night, with Tyler Day tossing 3.2 shutout innings of relief to earn the win.
The Rematch - Despite being separated by two time zones and just over 2,000 miles, the Spartans and Mavericks are actually no strangers to one another. Seniors remain from both squads dating to the last meeting of these clubs, on May 25, 2014, in Cary, North Carolina.
In that game, St. Thomas Aquinas grabbed a 2-0 first inning lead, then rallied to tie the score in the 9th to send the contest to extra innings before the Mavericks grabbed a 5-4 victory. Four unearned runs proved to be the bane of the Spartans that day, while Colorado Mesa advanced to the final game before falling to Southern Indiana for the National Championship. STAC's run ended in a loss to Minnesota-Mankato in its next game.
Neither team has been to the NCAA Championships since that 2014 season.
2017 NCAA Division II Baseball Championship
hosted by Angelo State University
Airhogs Stadium - Grand Prairie, Texas
May 27- June 3, 2017
= Regional Champions =
East - St. Thomas Aquinas (43-15)
Atlantic - West Chester (PA) (42-11)
South Central - Colorado Mesa (49-10)
Central - Lindenwood (MO) (40-19) (1 Loss)
South - Delta State (MS) (45-12) (1 Loss)
West - Cal San Diego (41-18) (1 Loss)
Southeast - North Georgia (46-12)
Midwest - Quincy (IL) (37-23)
Saturday, May 27
Game 1 - West Chester 9, North Georgia, 4
Game 2 - Lindenwood 4, Delta State, 0
Sunday, May 28
Game 3 - St. Thomas Aquinas 6, UC San Diego 5 (12 innings)
Game 4 - Colorado Mesa 10, Quincy 3
Monday, May 29
Game 5 - Delta State 4, North Georgia 0 (N. Georgia eliminated)
Game 6 - West Chester 5, Lindenwood 2
Tuesday, May 30
Game 7 - UC San Diego 10, Quincy 8 (Quincy eliminated)
Game 8 - St. Thomas Aquinas vs. Colorado Mesa, 8:55
Wednesday, May 31 (crossover)
Game 9 - Lindenwood vs. UC San Diego, (loser eliminated) 4:00
Game 10 - Loser Game 8 vs. Delta State, (loser eliminated) 8:00
Thursday, June 1
Game 11 - Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 9, 4:00
Game 12 - West Chester vs. Winner Game 10, 8:00
Additional schedule to be determined by results of these games, with the National Championship contest scheduled for June 3.