When and Where: May 20, 2018 – Pleasantville, N.Y. (Finnerty Field)
Score: Southern New Hampshire University 8, St. Thomas Aquinas College 1
Records: SNHU 38-15, STAC 38-14
Sophomore Tom Blandini (Bow, N.H.) went 3-for-5 and drove in three runs, while graduate student Andrew Lalonde (Bedford, N.H.) and sophomore Wesley Tobin (Portsmouth, N.H.) each tossed four no-hit innings, to guide the fourth-seeded Southern New Hampshire University baseball team to an 8-1 win over second-seeded and 17th-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas College on Sunday at Pace University's Finnerty Field. The Penmen are now 3-0 at the NCAA East Regional Championship and advance to the regional final for the third straight season.
Southern New Hampshire, which moves on to the regional final through the winner's bracket for the first time under the current format, will need just one win Monday to secure the program's second College World Series berth and first since 2012. The Penmen will play whichever of the other three remaining teams advance out of Sunday's next two games, with first pitch Monday coming at noon, followed by an if-necessary game at 4 p.m. Franklin Pierce University will battle the University of New Haven later Sunday, with the winner taking on STAC in the nightcap for the right to face the Penmen.
SNHU jumped on the board first in the bottom of the second, as two-out singles from freshman Idelson Taveras (Lawrence, Mass.) and redshirt-sophomore Joshua Goldstein (Haverhill, Mass.), sandwiched around an HBP to senior Kyle Pangallo (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), loaded the bases for Blandini. Blandini delivered what went into the books as a two-run double, blooping one down the left field line that the outfielder slid for, but he could not come up with it and knocked the ball into foul territory, with the umpire immediately signaling fair ball.
Freshman Sam Henrie (Middleboro, Mass.) extended the lead to 3-0 in the fourth, driving his first career home run over the fence in right-center.
Lalonde retired the first 12 batters he faced, but ran into trouble in the fifth. St. Thomas Aquinas grabbed a run back, as it loaded the bases with no outs. After Lalonde collected a huge punchout, he induced a grounder to third and Blandini attempted to turn the 5-3 double play to get out of the inning, but the first base umpire signaled safe on a bang-bang call and the first Spartan run came across.
The Spartans threatened again in the sixth, putting the first two on against Lalonde. The Penmen went to the bullpen for the first time in the regional and brought in Tobin, who struck out the side in order to preserve the 3-1 lead.
The Penmen added to the lead in the home half, as Henrie and Taveras led off with walks, before Pangallo greeted the third new pitcher of the day by smoking one to the gap in right-center for a ground-rule double that plated a run. Blandini followed a walk to Goldstein by dropping one in front of the center fielder to make it 5-1, before a four-pitch walk to senior Caleb Potter (Mentor, Ohio) with the bases loaded and a sacrifice fly to deep right-center from freshman Dakota Mulcay (Goffstown, N.H.) capped the scoring in the four-run sixth and stretched the advantage to 7-1.
Tobin squirmed his way out of another jam in the seventh, putting the first two batters on before recording a strikeout and a 6-3 twin killing to get out of the frame unscathed.
Goldstein made it 8-1 in the seventh with a two-out RBI single to center that scored Henrie, who drew a walk to begin the inning.
Lalonde (6-4) allowed one run on two hits, while striking out two and walking one, over five-plus innings. Tobin earned his first save with four no-hit innings, fanning seven and walking three.
Blandini was 3-for-5 with three RBI and a run scored, while Goldstein went 3-for-3 with a walk, RBI and a run. Henrie finished 1-for-2 with a pair of walks, RBI and three runs scored, with Taveras (walk, two runs) and Pangallo (RBI, run) each going 1-for-3.
- Southern New Hampshire improves to 20-13 (.606) all-time in NCAA Tournament play.
- The Penmen won for the 19th time in 22 contests.
- SNHU is outscoring its opponents, 22-4, during its three games at the regional.
- In its two previous regional finals, Southern New Hampshire won the first game against Franklin Pierce in 2016, before falling in the second game, while it lost game one to STAC last season.
- Goldstein is hitting .625 (5-8) with two RBI, three runs and three walks, while slashing .750/.625/1.375, at the regional.
- After Mulcay became the first Penmen freshman to homer in an NCAA Tournament game Thursday, Henrie became the second with his fourth-inning long-ball. Henrie is performing well at the regional, going 4-for-10 (.400) with two RBI, five runs and two walks, while crafting a slash line of .362/.800/1.162.
The Penmen will look to punch their ticket to Cary, N.C., for the College World Series on Monday, May 21 (12 p.m.) against either St. Thomas Aquinas, New Haven or Franklin Pierce.
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