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Gulls Fly to Ithaca For NCAA Regional

Gulls Fly to Ithaca For NCAA Regional

May 16, 2006

Endicott College will be making its fourth appearance in the NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament after capturing its third Commonwealth Coast Conference title in the last four years.

The Gulls earned the seventh seed in the Ithaca Regional and will face the host institution Wednesday at 1:00 PM. Endicott enters the regional with a 23-20 record (15-5 CCC) led by senior pitcher/first baseman Matt Bishop (Woburn, MA/Woburn), who was named the CCC Player of the Year. Bishop, a 2005 draft pick of the Houston Astros, leads the Gulls with seven home runs and 30 RBI while amassing a .301 batting average.

Bishop also owns a 6-2 record with a 1.48 ERA. He held opposing batters to a .177 average while fanning 51 and walking 28 to lead an Endicott staff that allowed just five home runs (the Gulls hit 15 as a team).

Juniors Erik Fields (Swampscott, MA/Swampscott) and Ian Parkinson (Peabody, MA/Peabody) give the Endicott rotation depth. Fields is also 6-2 on the hill with a 4.02 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 56 innings of work while holding opponents to a .228 batting average. Parkinson is 4-3 with a save in nine appearances. He has amassed 42 strikeouts and just 17 walks.

Junior outfielder Joe Orlando (Gloucester, MA/Gloucester) has piled up a team-leading .366 batting average with 11 doubles, three homers and 24 RBI for Endicott, which has had six players drive in 20 or more runs. Fields is hitting .344 as the Gulls' leadoff hitter, legging out three triples and driving in 20 runs.

Ithaca College is a program steeped in tradition. The Bombers are making their 40th NCAA playoff appearance after winning the Empire 8 title with a 12-4 record.

Ithaca is hitting at a torrid .339 clip, which is the team's highest average since the 1988 national champions batted .341. Freshman catcher/designated hitter Drew Ash leads Ithaca with a .456 average and a team-high four home runs. Junior outfielder Jeremy Peters is right there with Ash, batting .414 on a club-best 53 hits while sophomore catcher Rob Raux, a third-team All-American last spring, is hitting .407 with a team-best 42 RBI's. Raux's 41 runs, 50 hits and 10 stolen bases are all second on the team.

Sophomores Eric Ferguson and Josh Smith are both batting .362. Smith leads the team with 38 walks and a .515 on-base percentage. Senior shortstop Rob Litz and senior outfielders Kyle Rutherford and PJ Canestrari are all hitting over .300.

Peters and Nich Sottung head up the Bombers' staff. Peters is 8-1 on the mound with three saves and a 1.96 ERA while the sophomore Sottung owns a 7-1 record with a 2.22 ERA and junior Ryan Mays is 4-1 with a 3.18 ERA.

Cortland is the top seed in the regional after capturing its second straight State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) title. The conference title was the Red Dragons' ninth in the last 10 years.

Cortland (37-7) is making its 14th consecutive NCAA playoff appearance - the longest active streak nationally in Division III. The team's starting rotation is among the very best in Division III.

Junior Jimmy Dougher (8-0, 1.90 ERA) is the reigning two-time SUNYAC Pitcher of the Year while George Jweid tied a school record for wins by a freshman after piling up a 7-0 record and a 1.07 ERA. Sophomore Chris Bilyk (5-2, 2.15 ERA), sophomore Ryan Hooper (6-1, 2.47 ERA) and junior Mike Zgorzelski (5-1, 2.53 ERA) are also capable starters with five wins or more.

Junior second baseman Will Groff leads the Red Dragon attack. The SUNYAC Player of the Year, leads Cortland with a .462 batting average, 51 runs scored and 29 stolen bases. Groff has reached base safely by hit, walk or hit by pitch in each of his last 41 games.

Senior third baseman Ricky Piovesan is batting .347 with team highs of 12 doubles and 40 runs batted in, while senior outfielder Andrew Mead and sophomore first baseman John Giametta are the team leaders with five homers apiece. A total of 10 Red Dragons (with at least 50 at-bats) are batting over .300 and 12 have driven in at least 16 runs.

Rensselaer is the No. 3 seed after gaining an at-large bid to the regional. The Red Hawks made their NCAA playoff debut in 1991 and went to appear in 13 consecutive NCAA trips from 1992 to 2004.

Rensselaer set a school record for wins in a season (33), including a school- record 17 straight. The Red Hawks are batting .359 while outscoring their opponents 385-178. They have 511 hits, including 113 doubles, 12 triples and 21 home runs. They have also stolen 118 bases.

The pitching staff owns a 3.28 earned run average while holding opposing hitters to a .235 batting average. Junior lefthander Luke Calzone has been the catalyst for RPI's pitching staff, leading the team in wins with a school record 10 (10-0), earned run average (1.60), starts (11), innings pitched (73.0) and opponents' batting average (.174). He has struck out 63 while walking 27 batters. He was one of nine Rensselaer student-athletes to earn first-team All-Liberty League recognition.

Senior outfielder Michael Passante, the Liberty League Player of the Year, leads the offense with a team-high .434 batting average at the top of the order. He has started all 42 games, leading the team in on-base percentage (.571), runs (school-record 54), walks (school-record 45) and stolen bases (29).

Eastern Connecticut State, the No. 4 seed, earned an automatic berth into the regional by winning the Little East Conference title. The Warriors went through the loser's bracket of the LEC, winning three of their five tournament games on three different fields and winning four games in a matter of 27 hours.

Freshman lefty Shawn Gilblair was named the LEC Most Outstanding Player for his pitching and hitting accomplishments. As a pitcher, he started and won two games; as the designated hitter, he batted .421 (8-for-19) with a double, seven walks, five RBI and four runs scored. He had a .577 on-base percentage and a .474 slugging percentage.

Junior centerfielder Randy Re led all Eastern players in the LEC playoffs, batting .500 with half of his hits going for extra bases (four doubles, two triples). He also scored and drove in six runs while senior leftfielder Greg Sullivan matched Gilblair with a .421 tournament batting average. Sophomore shortstop Zack Thomas hit .417, senior second baseman Marc Garofalo batted .370, senior first baseman Chris DeSantis hit.320 and junior catcher Matt Cooney was 6-for-20 (.300). Gilblair, DeSantis and Cooney all drove in five runs while Ray and Garofalo each scored six.

Coming off their first Liberty League tournament championship, No. 5 St. Lawrence will make its second NCAA playoff appearance. The Saints finished second in the Liberty League and earned the league's automatic NCAA berth .

Senior pitcher Josh White was the tournament MVP after pitching a complete-game three hitter in the rout of Rochester. He came back and earned a save in the game against Clarkson. White brings a consecutive scoreless innings streak of 37.6 into the regional, the second-longest streak ever by a Division III pitcher. He is 8-1 overall with two saves in 12 appearances and has struck out 70 while walking 20 and limiting opponents to a .186 batting average.

Junior Mike Gipson, 4-1 with a 2.28 ERA and junior Chris Kerr, 4-2 with a 3.80 ERA, give the Saints solid pitching depth and freshman Jeff Graceffo, an Auburn native, has come on strong as of late.

Junior all-Liberty League outfielder Andy Engebretson leads the Saints in hitting with a .374 average and has driven in 42 runs. Second-team all-league first baseman Jeff DiGeronimo, a senior, hit .355 with 29 RBI's and has made just one error in 301 chances for a .997 fielding percentage. Junior centerfielder Matt Yaworsky, also a second-team all-league pick, hit .331 as the Saints' leadoff hitter and scored 40 runs. Senior designated hitter Joe Regonlinski and Gipson received honorable mention to the Liberty League all-star team; Regonlinski hit .345 with 31 runs driven in.

Centenary earned its second straight NCAA playoff bid after winning its second consecutive Skyline Conference Championship. The Cyclones earned the title in dramatic fashion, coming through the loser's bracket.

Centenary's 28-11 overall record surpasses their win total of a season ago, when they qualified for the New York Regional at 23-17. This year's team is led by a pitching staff that includes freshman Andrew Koncen (9-1 record). Koncen was the Skyline Conference's Rookie of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, a first-team all-Skyline selection and Tournament MVP. He ranks eighth nationally in ERA (1.26) and 20th in strikeouts per nine innings (10.9).

Junior Cole Kimball (3.23 ERA) has totaled five wins in nine starts, holding batters to a .185 batting average. Sophomore Chris Mattson (3-0, 1.73 ERA) has made 18 appearances, striking out 36 batters in 34.1 innings and holding opponents to a .194 batting average, while walking just nine.

Senior Todd Sigafoos (.365 BA) and junior Pat Cassidy (.359 BA) lead the Cyclones in hitting. Sigafoos, the team's designated hitter was a first-team all-Skyline selection and Cassidy was named to the second team. They have driven in a combined 43 runs and scored 34 runs and both reach base nearly 50 percent of the time.

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