MANCHESTER, N.H. -- St. Thomas Aquinas College swept Dowling College to win the Division II East Regioin title on Sunday. The Spartans advanced to the NCAA Division II Championship. STAC won the first game of the day by a 4-2 count, and Matt Kostolos came back on two days rest to throw a complete-game shutout in a 3-0 title-clinching victory.
STAC improved to 38-16 overall, while Dowling's season came to a close with a 36-17 mark.
Kostolos danced through early control problems before settling down, while Dowling's Cody McPartland was strong through five scoreless innings.
In the sixth, Mike Apreda led off with a line single to right, and gave way to pinch-runner Kadeem Octave. McPartland was done for the day, with Nick Persad coming on in relief.
Rich Baerga laid a bunt down the first base line but Persad's flip was just offline, pulling first baseman JC Brandmaier off the base as Baerga was credited with a single, moving Octave to second.STAC then benefitted from a somewhat unlucky, lucky bounce.
Persad's pitch in the dirt got by catcher Mike Rizzitello, but hit home plate ump Dave Sparanza and stayed near the plate. With Octave breaking, Parisi's throw was nearly in time but was offline, caroming into right field and allowing Octave to score the game's first run. Baerga then stole third and came in on Derek Hiirsch's two-out single, putting the Spartans up a pair.
Now pitching with the lead, Kostolos found his groove, retiring the Golden Lions in order in the seventh, as his offense tacked on another run. Stanley Susana led off with a single, advanced on a fielding error by third baseman Vinny Orlando and Omar Cuevas laced an RBI single through the hole to give STAC a 3-0 cushion.
Dowling went down in order in the eighth but had a glimmer of hope when Brandemaier was hit by a pitch to lead off the visiting ninth. Parisi followed with a grounder to third, and CJ Ferriggi started an around-the-horn twin killing to bring the game to its final out. Rob Veltre went down swinging and the celebration was on, as the Spartans accepted their first Regional Championship trophy.
Kostolos improved to 7-2 on the season with the win, while McPartland fell to 1-4 with the hard-luck loss.