CARY, N.C. -- Minnesota State-Mankato used a complete-game, five-hitter from senior Bryce Bellin and three runs in the fifth and sixth innings to secure a 6-1 victory against St. Thomas Aquinas and avoid elimination at the NCAA DII championships on Tuesday afternoon at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.
With the win, MSU moves to 46-10 on the season and will play the loser of Tuesday night's game featuring Colorado Mesa and Seton Hill on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET. St. Thomas Aquinas' season comes to an end with a record of 38-18.
Minnesota State pushed across a run in the top of the second inning to claim an early 1-0 lead. Senior Mike Andries and junior Connor McCallumeach singled with two outs putting runners at the corners until a delayed steal by McCallum brought Andries home from third just underneath the tag of the Spartan catcher.
The Purple and Gold threatened to expand the lead the next inning loading the bases with two down, but the STAC leftfielder made a sliding catch to deny sophomore Taylor Branstad and get Spartan sophomore righthander Mark Kostalos out of the jam.
Junior Stanley Susana dropped a one-out single into right field for the first STAC base hit of the afternoon off senior righthander Bryce Bellin in the bottom of the fourth. Two batters later, freshman Deven Del Priore drilled a two-out RBI double to deep centerfield leveling the contest at 1-1. However, the Mavericks reclaimed the advantage in the next half inning as freshman Eric Peterson lead-off with his third single of the contest before scoring on a sacrifice fly to right field by junior Nolan Johnson.
MSU made it a three-run cushion with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth inning. Senior Todd Standish drew a four-pitch walk off senior righthander Brian Tompkins with the bases loaded to plate the first run, before junior Max Waletich drilled a sacrifice fly to deep right field putting the Mavericks up 4-1.
Johnson struck again for the Purple and Gold in the eighth frame when he yanked a two-run single through the left side scoring senior Parker Sullivan and Waletich giving him three RBI on the day and extending MSU a five-run advantage.
Bellin was on point throughout the affair registered five consecutive shutout innings to secure the 6-1 win and his first complete game of the season. He struck out four while scattering five hits, four walks and an earned run. Peterson finished with a game-high three hits and a run scored, while Johnson added a game-best three RBI in a 1-for-4 performance. Andries and McCallum each picked up a pair of hits, while Andries and Sullivan each scored two runs.