The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team came up short in its bid to defend the East Region championship, with a 6-0 loss to Southern New Hampshire on Championship Monday. The Spartans finish the campaign with a 39-15 overall record - tying the second-highest win total in program history - while SNHU holds an identical 39-15 mark and advances to represent the region in the upcoming NCAA Division II Champsionship in Cary, North Carolina.
STAC suffered its first post-season setback on Sunday, losing the day's opener to those same Penmen by an 8-1 score, before rallying to eliminated top seeded New Haven on a 4-0 pitching masterpiece from Chris Pennell. The Spartans turned to ace Frankie Moscatiello on three days rest and it was clear early on that he was not as sharp as in Thursday's 8-3 regional opening win over Wilmington.
A two-out error pushed across an unearned run in the top of the second, and the margin extended to 3-0 an inning later when Thomas Buonopane stroked a two-run homer, putting the Spartans in an early 3-0 hole. Moscatiello yielded after 3.1 innings, allowing those two earned runs while striking out six and walking one.
Southern New Hampshire tacked on a single run in the sixth and two more insurance tallies in the seventh but they were unnecessary, as starter Shane McDonald did the rest, holding the Spartans to just one hit while striking out 15 in the complete-game shutout. Four different Penmen had two hits each in leading their squad to its first NCAA Championship Tournament since 2012, while the Spartans came up just short in search of their third East Regional title in five seasons.
At the close of the 2018 NCAA Division II East Region Tournament, Sports Information Directors and visiting media selected the All-Tournament Team, and Spartans Giovanni Dingcong, Anthony Maisano and Chris Pennell were each named to the squad following their outstanding individual performances over the 5-day event.
Dingcong went 7-for-22 (.318 avg.) with 2 home runs, 4 RBI and 3 runs scored in five games, while Anthony Maisano hit .471 (8-for-17) with 3 doubles, 2 RBI, 3 runs scored and a stolen base, also in five games.
Pennell, kept the Spartans' season alive, throwing a complete game 4-hitter, while striking out 13 New Haven Charger batters in a 4-0 victory Sunday, that sent STAC to the Championship Monday games versus Southern New Hampshire.