NCAA Division-III Baseball Mansfield Regional: Donovan Pitches No. 24 Trinity into Friday’s Showdown against No. 9 Wheaton

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Mansfield, CT --- Senior Edward Donovan (Fairfield, CT) fired a four-hit shutout to help lead third-seeded Trinity blank #2 St. Joesph's (Maine), 4-0, in the winners bracket of the NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament hosted by Eastern Connecticut. 

The Bantams (34-9) advance to tomorrow's4:30 PM contest against top-seeded Wheaton. The contest will pit the best two pitching staffs in New England against each other as the Lyons have the top ranked earned run average (2.60) regionally while Trinity isn't far behind in second (2.66).

Monks (38-6) will play in tomorrow's elimination game at 1:15 PM against fourth-seeded Keene State. Tonight's shutout by Trinity marked the first time in 62 games that St. Joseph's had been held scoreless as they were last blanked on April 16, 2011 in a 4-0 setback in the opening game of a regular-season double-header against Suffolk.

Donovan (6-2) was magnificent as he went the distance for the first time this season on 99 pitches and helped the Bantams notch their seventh team shutout this season. He fanned three and walked no one, but he did plunk one batter. The only time he had a three ball count all evening was on the lead-off man of the game.

Trinity (CT) started off the contest with the quick 2-0 advantage in the opening frame on RBI singles by junior Michael Rueger (Teaneck, NJ) and freshman Adam Moossmann (E. Northport, NY).

The Bantams plated a third run of the game in the top of the fourth on a sacrifice fly by third-year Alex Almeida (Bridgeport, CT) who drove in freshman Bryan Wolfe (La Habra Heights, CA). Wolfe singled, reached second on wild throw by the catcher on a bunt and he moved to third on a sacrifice.

St. Joseph's sophomore starter Joe Gruntkowsky (Peabody, MA) was lifted for freshman Alex Valenti (Lawrence, MA) with one out in the sixth. The first-year hurler helped keep his team in the game as he would strand six on base including four who were left in scoring position over his next two 2/3 innings of work.

But Trinity finally broke through and plated an unearned run off Valenti on an RBI single by freshman Kyle Decker (Simsbury, CT). Valenti yielded one unearned run and three hits to go with a pair of walks and a trio of punch outs.

Gruntkowski (3-2), who was charged with the setback for the Monks went five 1/3 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on eight hits as he struck out five and issued three free passes.

In the later frames, St. Joseph's had their chances to strike against Donovan. Freshman Nic Lops (S. Portland, ME) had a double in an attempt to start a rally in the top of the fifth, but he was called out for missing first on the appeal. Sophomore Alex Lorenc (Nanuet, NY) and Lops were also stranded in scoring position in the seventh with one out.

In the bottom of the ninth, first-year Joe Coyne (Duxbury, MA) was left on second with no outs as Donovan induced a fly out and fanned his final two batters to end the contest.

Bantam junior Joe Papa (Stoneham, MA) was 4-for-5 with an RBI while Rueger and senior David Casanova (Bristol, CT) both chipped in with a pair of base-knocks.

Overall Trinity had the 11-4 advantage in the hitting department and they would leave 15 men on the base paths.

Story by Steven M. Miller, Jr.