Uniondale, N.Y. - The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team battled to a 4-2 victory over LIU Post in the Winner's Bracket game of the East Coast Conference Baseball Tournament at Mitchel Field in Uniondale, N.Y. The Spartans will play on noon Saturday, needing one win in two games to earn their third straight ECC title.
STAC will play the winner of Friday afternoon's contest between Post and Bridgeport, who eliminated Dowling in the day's first contest. The Spartans now stand at 26-17-1, with LIU Post falling 18-17.
Starting pitchers May and Dan Jagiello dominated the early going, with neither team recording a hit through three innings, though the Spartans managed to get on the board first. A string of wildness loaded the bases in the home third as, with one out, Deven Del Priore and Rich Baerga walked and Joseph Pena was hit by a pitch.
Jagiello rebounded to strike out Nick Gargan, but ECC Player of the Year Stanley Susana worked out a nine-pitch walk, bringing in Del Priore with the contest's first run. Post's hurler escaped further damage and the duel was resumed, with neither team having a hit until Pena's infield single with two down in the bottom of the fifth.
May flirted with control trouble of his own in the top of the sixth, walking leadoff hitter Tom Tolan on four pitches. Tolan proceeded to steal second and advanced to third on a wild pitch with one down. Cleanup batter David Groeneveld popped up to the infield, but Kenny Daley came up big with a flare single to center, breaking up the no-hitter and tying the score at 1-1.
STAC responded quickly on Jagiello in the bottom half of the frame, with Susana leading off with a double. Giovanni Dingcong and Rich Cesca, Jr., were each hit by pitches to load the bags with nobody out. Brandon Fischer and Christian Santo converted back-to-back RBI singles to open a 3-1 lead, but again Post's starter was able to avoid further damage and keep his team alive.
Post would rally in the top of the eighth, but this time it was May's turn to limit the damage in dramatic fashion. With Tolan and Vinny Iacono leading off with singles to set the table, May would then battle wildness, walking Anthony Brunetti and Groneveld to force in a run, cutting the margin to 3-2.
Daley would follow with a foul out, and the left hander recorded his 10th strikeout of the day, fanning, Thomas Asbaty. Matt Bowers followed with a chopping ball to first base, which was fielded by Christian Santo who slapped the tag on the diving baserunner to retire the side.
A two out error in the bottom of the eighth helped the Spartans to an insurance run, but that was more than enough for May, who retired the side in order in the ninth and threw 129 pitches in tossing the three-hitter, striking out 10 while walking six to improve to 6-1 on the season. Jagiello was saddled with the loss, dropping to 5-3.
STAC will face the winner of the Bridgeport-LIU Post contest, which be played Friday afternoon. Having emerged from the Winner's bracket, the Spartans need just one win to earn the title and a trip to the NCAA Division II Baseball Tournament for the third straight season. Should STAC lose the noon game, the teams will immediately play again, with the winner earning the title.
Provided by the St. Thomas Aquinas Sports Information Department.