Preview: Winner's Bracket Battle Puts #3 Spartans vs. #2 New Haven Friday Night

Preview: Winner's Bracket Battle Puts #3 Spartans vs. #2 New Haven Friday Night

The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team plays the University of New Haven in the Winner's Bracket of the NCAA Division II Tournament on Friday at 7:00 pm in Manchester, NH.

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The Tournament -  Three games were completed in Day One of the East Regional, with the top seed (STAC, New Haven, and LIU Post) taking the win in each. Seven teams participate in the East Region double-elimination format tourney, with the Regional Champion advancing to the Elite Eight in Grand Prairie, Texas.

The Schedule - Tournament Game Four is an elimination contest between #7 Dominican and #6 New Haven at 11:00 am Friday, with the loser's season coming to an end. Top-seeded Southern New Hampshire makes its tourney debut at 3:00, meeting #4 LIU Post. The #3 Spartans are back in action against #2 New Haven in the nightcap at 7:00 pm.

Six teams will remain after Friday's action, with two more being sent home after Saturday's three games.

St. Thomas Aquinas - The Spartans (39-15) shook off an early 3-0 deficit to grab an 8-3 victory over Southern Connecticut in Thursday's regional opener. The long ball was the story, as Giovanni Dingcong, Mike Morgan, and Cris Ruiz all homered to spark the comeback, while Frankie Moscatiello allowed just one earned run over six innings to improve to 9-1 on the season.

This season, the Spartans won their 4th ECC Regular Season Championship in the past six seasons (2012, 2013, 2016); they have captured three ECC Tournament titles (2013, 2014, 2015); and are making their 5th straight NCAA Tournament appearance, winning the East Regional Championship in 2014.

Since the 2013 season, the Spartans have a 22-15 overall post-season record (12-6 ECC; and 10-9 NCAAs). That total includes an impressive 14-6 mark in games when facing elimination.

New Haven - The Chargers have been on a tear of late, with five-straight post-season victories and seven in their last eight games overall. New Haven used a three-run fifth inning to rally past upstart Dominican College in a 5-2 victory Thursday, with Matt Chamberlain's two-run homer providing the decisive blow.

The Northeast-10 Tournament champs placed five players on the All-Conference team, with David Palmer and Tom Walraven earning First Team honors, and Tim Kennedy, Robert Petrillo, and Jack Zagaja placing on the second team. Zagaja leads the offense with a .348 batting average, while Palmer (8-0, 1.40 ERA) and Kennedy (6-0, 1.44 ERA) have been at the top of the starting rotation.

The Season Series - This is the first meeting of these teams this season.

Head-to-Head History - This is the first post-season meeting of these squads. Their last meeting was on April 8, 2014, with St. Thomas Aquinas earning an 8-7 victory on home turf.

What's Next - The winner of the East Regional advances to the NCAA Elite Eight in Grand Prairie, TX. Full regional schedule as follows:

Thursday, May 18
Game 1: (3) St. Thomas Aquinas 8, (6) Southern Connecticut 3
Game 2: (2) New Haven 5, (7) Dominican (N.Y.) 2
Game 3: (4) LIU Post 4, (5) Felician 2

Friday, May 19
Game 4: Dominican (N.Y.) 5 vs. Southern Connecticut 3 (Southern Connecticut eliminated) 
Game 5: LIU Post at (1) Southern New Hampshire -- 3 p.m.
Game 6: New Haven vs. St. Thomas Aquinas -- 7 p.m.

Saturday, May 20
Game 7: Dominican (N.Y.) vs. Game 5 Loser -- 11 a.m. (loser eliminated) 
Game 8: Game 6 Loser vs. Felician -- 3 p.m. (loser eliminated) 
Game 9: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 6 Winner -- 7 p.m. 

Sunday, May 21
Game 10: Game 8 Winner vs. Game 7 Winner -- 12 p.m. (loser eliminated) 
Game 11: Game 10 Winner vs. Game 9 Loser -- 3:30 p.m. (loser eliminated) 

Monday, May 22
Game 12: Game 9 Winner vs. Game 11 Winner -- 12 p.m. Recap | Highlights
Game 13: Game 12 rematch* -- 40 minutes after conclusion of Game 12
* Game 13 only necessary if Game 11 Winner wins Game 12