April 30, 2006
BEVERLY, MA -The celebration was delayed for two innings, but in was well worth the wait as Endicott College won its third Commonwealth Coast Conference championship in four years, defeating No. 4 Roger Williams, 5-4, in 11 innings Sunday in Beverly.
The second-seeded Gulls (23-17) won its fourth straight postseason tournament, capturing an ECAC title last spring and winning back-to-back CCC crowns in 2003 and 2004. Endicott has four total CCC titles (2000, 2003, 2004, 2006) and one GNAC title (1997). Endicott will appear in its fourth NCAA Division III Regional Tournament, beginning May 15.
Roger Williams (21-21) upset top-seeded Salve Regina in the semis and saw a chance to win its second CCC - the Hawks won the conference tourney in 2001 - title slip away after erasing a 4-0 deficit in the final three innings Sunday.
Gavin Softic (Athol, MA/Athol/Cushing Academy) played the role of the hero in the bottom of the 11th when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the frame. RWU retired the first two batters of the innings on a ground out and a fly out, but Matt Bishop (Woburn, MA/Woburn) walked for the second time before Steve Vidmosko (Shelton, CT/Fairfield Prep) and Dan Gomez (East Longmeadow, MA/East Longmeadow) each singled to load the bases for Softic.
Endicott starting pitcher Mike Daggett (Sabattus, ME/Oak Hill) and reliever Erik Fields (Swampscott, MA/Swampscott) combined to pitch 11 innings of 12-hit baseball without issuing a free pass. Daggett allowed just one hit over the first four innings - a two-out double by Andrew Lippincott (Swanzey, NH/Monadnock) in the first inning. He went six plus innings, allowing two runs (0 earned) on seven hits while fanning two and walking none.
Fields relieved Daggett in the seventh and improved to 6-2 with the victory. He pitched 5.0 innings of five-hit baseball, surrendering two runs with one strikeout and no walks.
The Gulls supplied Daggett with single runs in the first, third, fourth and fifth innings. EC loaded the bases with nobody out in the first inning on consecutive singles by Fields and Joe Orlando (Gloucester, MA/Gloucester) and a Bishop walk, but Hawks' pitcher Mike Malcolm (Brockton, MA/Brockton) reared back and fanned the next two batters.
Endicott could only manage the one run on a Softic two-out walk before Malcolm wiggled his way out of the jam with a pop out to end the frame. Adam Labbe (Litchfield, ME/Oak Hill Regional) doubled the Gulls' lead in the third, delivering a two-out RBI single to score Gomez, who drew a one-out walk.
Endicott scraped out single runs in the fourth on a double steal by Joe Paciello (Worcester, MA/St. Peter Marian) and Orlando, who scored from third on the play and another two-out single in the fifth by Thomas Warner (Hopkinton, NH/Hopkinton).
Roger Williams cut the deficit in half in the seventh taking advantage of three straight singles to open the frame by Kevin Simpson (Londonderry, NH/Londonderry), Alex Perry (Glastonbury, CT Glastonbury) and Kevin Thompson (Southington, CT Southington). After a fielding error allowed the Simpson to score, Fields took the hill and induced a 4-6-3 twin killing that let Perry come in the back door to cut the EC lead to 4-2.
The Hawks then took a page out of the Endicott playbook to plate the tying runs with some clutch two-out hitting by Simpson. He tripled home Lippincott, who singled, and travelled home 90-feet on wild pitch by Fields.
The game remained tied into extra frames. Fields and Roger Williams reliever James Lydon (Calverton, NY Riverhead) allowed just one hit - a single by Radd DeWeese(Rexford, NY Niskayuna) - from the bottom of the seventh until the bottom of the 11th.
Orlando was 3-for-6 for the Gulls, while Fields and Warner each had two hits. Simpson and Thompson were each 3-for-5 for the Hawks, who got two hits from Lippincott.
Endicott will host Brandeis Tuesday (4:00 PM), travel to Babson Friday and host Suffolk Saturday (1:00 PM) to prepare for the NCAA Tournament.