Ths story was updated at 1:08 p.m. to clarify Coast Guard Academy’s national ranking

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — St. Joseph’s College posted its first NCAA softball tournament victory Thursday when it beat Endicott College.

The Monks recorded another first Friday when they beat Coast Guard Academy, ranked No. 6 nationally.

Madylan Kluna saved the game for Rae-Marie Copan as the sixth-seeded Monks won 4-3 in a winners’ bracket game at the Division III New England regional at Rhode Island College.

Next up for the Monks (37-8) is a 2 p.m. game today against top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State (32-4).

Kluna, who beat Endicott, worked herself into and out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth, then retired the side in order in the seventh.

The Bears (37-3) loaded the bases with no outs on Halli Bastnick’s infield hit and sacrifice bunts by Stacia Sarwinski and Megan Cook that catcher Maria Labbe and Kluna, respectively, misplayed for errors.

But Cathy Walker bounced to Kluna, who forced Bastnick at home, and Kaitlin Ward grounded to second baseman Connie Grovo who, from her knees, fired a strike to Labbe for the second out.

Kluna then retired Jamie Kim on a grounder to shortstop Lindsay Moore, allowing the Monks’ fans to exhale.

“I’ve never been in anything of this magnitude,” Kluna said of her escape act. “I just wanted to look at it as any other game and do the best I could.

“My defense backed me up. Connie Grovo made an amazing stop. We all came together and showed we were meant to be here.”

Given Coast Guard’s national ranking, the victory was all the more satisfying for the Monks.

“Coach (Jamie Smyth) said this was probably one of the biggest wins we’ve ever had as a team,” Kluna said. “It feels great to be a part of this and it feels great with this team considering the type of players we have. It’s an awesome victory for us.”

The way Smyth handled his pitchers was a major factor in the outcome.

Copan (8-3) worked the first five innings and allowed the three runs in the fifth — the key hit being a bases-clearing double by Maddie Buchert — before Smyth summoned Kluna.

“We felt Rae-Marie was the best option (to start),” Smyth said. “We watched them (Thursday) and saw they’re a good fastball-hitting team. Rae’s more of a finesse pitcher for us, kind of like (former major league pitcher) Greg Maddux. She does a good job of moving it in and out.

“We wanted to get what we did out of her. Eventually I think they figured her out around the fifth inning and we felt like it was time to make a change, and it worked out.

“Maddie has been our most consistent pitcher,” Smyth added. “If we’re going to go down, we’re going to go down with our best out there to end the game.”

The Monks grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first when Danyelle Shufelt reached on a passed ball while striking out and eventually scored on consecutive illegal pitches by Hayley Feindel.

Labbe drew a two-out walk in the second and Katelyn Call followed with a double. Call later scored on two illegal pitches for a 3-0 lead.

Emily Leverone’s third-inning double was followed by Jill Howard’s single for what proved to be the winning run.