PROVIDENCE, R.I. – One big hit.

That’s what sixth-seeded St. Joseph’s College lacked Saturday in an NCAA Division III New England regional winners’ bracket game against top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State.

Warriors All-American Molly Rathbun pitched a five-hitter as the defending regional champions beat the Monks 5-1 at Rhode Island College.

The Monks (37-9) will play an elimination game at 10 a.m. today against Rhode Island College, which eliminated Coast Guard with a 2-1, eight-inning win in Saturday’s final game.

If the Monks win, they would play the Warriors (33-4) again at noon.

Eastern Connecticut, ranked No. 9 in the nation, scored three runs in the first and one in the second against Madylan Kluna (14-4). But the Monks got one run back in the third, which was noteworthy considering Rathbun (22-0) had pitched no-hitters in her previous two games in the tournament, against Husson and RIC.

Maria Labbe led off the third with a single, advanced on Katelyn Call’s sacrifice and scored on Connie Grovo’s two-out double to left field.

St. Joseph’s then loaded the bases on a walk to Emily Leverone and a single by Jill Howard, but Rathbun struck out Alyssa Dunn to end the rally.

“We had who we wanted up there,” Coach Jamie Smyth said. “A lot of times the pitcher’s going to win.”

St. Joseph’s only other threat came in the fourth when Heather Tripp reached on a leadoff single and advanced to second on Lindsay Moore’s sacrifice. But Rathbun retired the next two batters and allowed only one more base runner after that — Labbe, who singled with one out in the seventh.

Rathbun finished with one walk and nine strikeouts and threw 67 of 90 pitches for strikes.

“Going into the game we knew she didn’t have many walks (21) in over 150 innings,” Smyth said. “We knew she was going to be around the plate.

“Early on we weren’t aggressive and struck out quite a bit (six times in the first two innings). But once we got into the flow of the game, I think we had better at-bats and figured out her tendencies.

“We were able to put some balls in play but we lacked that one big hit. It could have come in the inning when we had the bases loaded.

“But in games like this when you’re playing great teams, you have to get runners on base and have that big hit. The last couple of games we’ve won we’ve done that … but it just didn’t happen today, obviously against a great pitcher.”

The Warriors put the Monks in a deep hole in the first as they combined a double by Megan Godwin, a sacrifice, an error, a walk and Rachel Soychak’s two-run single for their three runs.

Rosie Manzo added an RBI single in the second and Arielle Cooper homered off Rae-Marie Copan in the sixth.

“We don’t dwell on wins and losses for too long,” Smyth said. “We know what we have to do (today). We have to win the first game and that’s what we’re focusing on.

“We have to put ourselves in position to get to the championship game, which is our goal at this point.”