When and Where: May 22, 2017 – Manchester, N.H. (Penmen Field)
Score: St. Thomas Aquinas 13 College, Southern New Hampshire University 2
Records: STAC 42-15, SNHU 43-11
Redshirt-junior Matt Rabbito (Chelmsford, Mass.) and senior Cam Oliveira (Tewksbury, Mass.) hit ninth-inning home runs, but it was too little and too late as the sixth-ranked and top-seeded Southern New Hampshire University baseball team saw its season draw to a close with a 13-2 loss to third-seeded St. Thomas Aquinas College in the NCAA East Regional Championship final Monday afternoon at SNHU's Penmen Field.
SNHU loses in the regional final for the second straight season, while the Spartans capture their second regional title, duplicating what they did in 2014 when they clinched a College World Series berth on Penmen Field.
After an easy 1-2-3 first inning for junior starter Mitchell Powers (Portland, Maine), St. Thomas Aquinas erupted for six runs in the second. Powers retired his fourth straight to begin the frame, but a Bobby Morse infield single on a great play at third by graduate student Zach Goldstein (Merrick, N.Y.) in which the first base umpire ruled the first baseman's foot came off the bag, and a double from Michael Morgan preceded a three-run shot to left by Mark Shkrelja that left the Penmen stunned. Greg Dawber kept it rolling with a single up the middle before a grounder to short looked like it might be an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, but the relay throw sailed high and allowed the inning to continue. A double to left-center put a pair in scoring position, with Nicholas Lucchese depositing another double over the head of the left fielder to plate a pair. Anthony Shkrelja then smacked the third straight double for the Spartans to make it 6-0 and chase Powers from the game. Senior Alex Person (Foxboro, Mass.) struck out the 10th St. Thomas Aquinas batter of the inning to come to the plate and end the frame.
Southern New Hampshire threatened in the third as a walk to junior Kyle Pangallo (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), a doubled to center from Goldstein and a hit by pitch for sophomore Kyle Ruth (Albany, N.Y.) loaded the bases with one out, but STAC starter Anthony Morris recorded back-to-back strikeouts to get out of the jam.
The Spartans added on another run in the fourth as Dawber led off with a single through the left side, went to second on Cris Ruiz' sacrifice bunt and scored when Joseph Pena singled into left to nudge the lead to 7-0.
Morris again wiggled out of trouble in the sixth as consecutive singles to begin the inning for Ruth and senior Derek Bauer (Millis, Mass.) put a pair on with no one out. After a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position, Morris again racked up back-to-back strikeouts and induced a pop up to end the threat.
St. Thomas Aquinas scored another pair with two down in the bottom of the seventh as Giovanni Dingcong's RBI single to left and Morse's triple to right made it 9-0.
St. Thomas Aquinas ballooned the lead with a four-run eighth inning. Ruiz' one-out double to left and a run-scoring single from Pena brought in the first two runs before a two-out, two-run blast to left from Anthony Shkrelja gave the Spartans a 13-0 advantage.
Rabbito led off the ninth inning with a pinch-hit solo home run to left-center, while Oliveira did the same two batters later as the pair closed out their careers on a high note.
Powers (6-3) relinquished six runs on seven hits, while striking out one in an inning-and-two-thirds. Person was charged with seven runs on 10 hits over six innings, fanning three. Freshman Nick Artymowicz (Seaville, N.J.) struck out three in one-and-a-third perfect frames.
Morris (9-1) went the distance, allowing two runs on six hits, while punching out seven and walking just one in nine innings.
Goldstein (HBP) and Pangallo (Walk) were both 1-for-3, while Bauer and Oliveira (RBI, run) were each 1-for-4. Ruth (two HBP) and Rabbito (RBI, run) were 1-for-1.
Dawber finished 3-for-4 with a pair of runs, while Pena turned in a 3-for-5, two-RBI, two-run performance. Anthony Shkrelja (three RBI, run), Lucchese (two RBI, two runs), Morse (RBI, run) and Dingcong (RBI, run) were all 2-for-5. Ruiz went 1-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored, with Mark Shkrelja going 1-for-4 with three RBI and a run.
- SNHU, making its sixth NCAA Championship appearance, ends its season having lost four of six, but won 22 of its last 27 contests.
- The Penmen are 93-18 (.838) over the last two seasons.
- Southern New Hampshire falls to 2-3 all-time against STAC in the NCAA Championship after also losing to the Spartans, 13-1, in the winner's bracket semifinal Saturday.
- SNHU ends its season 16-3 (.842) at home and dips to 59-13 (.819) at Penmen Field since the start of the 2014 season.
- Goldstein and Ruth were named to the All-Championship Team.
- Rabbito's home run was the first of his career in his final at bat, while Oliveira went deep for the third time in his career and second time, both this season and in as many days.
- In the single-season program record book, Goldstein finished tied for first in hit by pitches (16), third in walks (37), tied for third in triples (7), seventh in runs (50) and tied for seventh in hits (65). Redshirt-junior Ryan Sullivan (Hopkinton, Mass.) finished tied for first in home runs (12) and seventh in RBI (45). Grad student Stephen Fortuna (Metuchen, N.J.) is second in ERA (0.70). Powers is seventh in strikeouts (94) and junior Caleb Potter (Mentor, Ohio) is ninth in RBI (40).
- In the career record book, Goldstein finishes first in runs (179) and triples (17), seconds in hits (218) and stolen bases (69), third in RBI (110) and games played (178), tied for third in doubles (33), tied for eighth in home runs (12) and ninth in batting average (.326). Bauer closes out his career second in RBI (121), third in home runs (18) and tied for eighth in stolen bases (41). Person wraps his career up first in wins (28), second in innings pitched (253.2), sixth in strikeouts (202) and ninth in ERA (2.91).
- This marked the final career games for Rabbito, Oliveira, Goldstein, Person, Bauer, Fortuna and grad student Dave Hoffman (Niskayuna, N.Y.).
For a complete overview of the NCAA East Regional, visit the Championship Central page at http://snhupenmen.com/sports/bsb/2016-17/NCAAEastRegional.
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