MANSFIELD, Conn. — St. Joseph’s magical run through the NCAA Division III baseball New England regional ended Saturday in extra innings, one game shy of the championship round.

The Monks lost 6-5 to top- seeded Tufts when the go-ahead run scored in the 11th inning on a fly ball that got lost in the bright afternoon sky.

St. Joseph’s, which won three games in the double-elimination tournament, finished 35-13 with its deepest-ever finish at the regional.

“Nobody thought we would be here on championship day,” said Monks Coach Will Sanborn. “That’s a disappointing loss, but when you put guys in a situation to rise to the occasion, that’s all you can ask for as a coach.”

The Monks were in command with a 4-1 lead until the seventh and still led 5-4 until the Jumbos tied it in the eighth.

St. Joseph’s used five relievers to supplement a fine start by right-hander Chad Rafferty, who had six strikeouts. That relief included Game 2 starter Pat Moran, who closed out the game with 3â…“ innings of relief just two days after throwing nine innings.

“I was hoping it would come to that,” said Moran, a fifth-year senior. “If the season was going to end, I wanted it to end with me on the mound. I felt good. Strong. It’s not the outcome we wanted, but it was the situation I wanted to be in.”

The Monks got on the board with an RBI single by first baseman Ben Grant-Roy in the first inning and made it 2-0 in the second on a home run to right field by catcher Travis Adams.

Nate Bankoff doubled home Alex Perry in the third to pull Tufts within 2-1.

In the fourth, Adams doubled and scored on an error, and Mike Pratt scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-1.

The Jumbos tied it in the seventh with four singles, a sacrifice fly and a walk, but the Monks got another RBI single from Grant-Roy to go ahead, 5-4.

Tufts answered again in the eighth on a two-out double by Corey Pontes and a single by Perry.

The Jumbos went ahead in the 11th when Bankoff’s high fly ball to right dropped for a double, scoring Perry, who had walked and advanced on a bunt and wild pitch.

The Monks went down in order in the bottom of the 11th.

St. Joseph’s had several outstanding individual performances in the tournament.

Grant-Roy went 3 for 6 with two RBI Saturday and hit .500 in the tournament with six RBI.

“Everyone knows what type of team we are now. We competed from the first to the 11th inning,” said Grant-Roy. “Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way.”

Todd Keneborus hit .526, going 10 for 19 with four RBI.

By any measure, the Monks made an improbable run as the tournament’s No. 8 seed.

After losing 12-3 Wednesday to Tufts, the Monks beat No. 5 Worcester State in 12 innings on Thursday, then knocked off No. 3 Western New England and No. 2 Wheaton on Friday.

By Saturday they were one of just three teams left.

“Thursday’s win was a turning point for us, but we have confident players. It’s there inside them,” said Sanborn. “They just had to prove they could play with anybody.”

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:
[email protected]