BEVERLY, Mass. – There is not much that could top winning a conference championship and reaching the NCAA Regional finals in your senior season. Playing professional baseball in Australia is an opportunity that might rival those experiences and for two fortunate Endicott baseball alumni, they did just that.
This past August former Gulls pitcher Brendan Pittsley announced that he was heading to the city of Ryde, located four miles outside of Sydney, Australia in New South Wales, to compete for the Ryde Eastwood Hawks who had won the previous New South Wales Baseball League championship. Joining Pittsley on the journey was former teammate and catcher Robert Goldstick. The decision to continue playing baseball halfway across the world was, surprisingly, not a difficult one.
"Towards the end of my senior year, I was applying and interviewing for jobs while balancing school work and baseball," said Pittsley, a sport management major and native of Plympton, Massachusetts who completed internships with the Cape Cod Baseball League and the New England Patriots marketing department. "The team was in the middle of a historic run. It was hard to get my mind off of baseball especially after we beat Western New England in the conference championship."
Pittsley was amidst a career-year himself, spinning a 7-1 record with a 2.37 ERA over 57.0 IP which included 21 innings during Endicott's postseason run to the CCC title and into the NCAA Regional Finals.
"Just a couple of days before the conference tournament started Coach Haley approached me at practice and asked what my plans were for after school and if I was interested in playing overseas. I'm not sure if I even let him finish his sentence. I was in no hurry to let my baseball career come to an end, especially if it meant the chance to play in Australia for Coach Haley's old team."
Ryde is where Endicott baseball head coach Bryan Haley, in the early 2000s, pitched the Hawks to a club championship by going 14-4 with a league leading 150 strikeouts and a 2.54 ERA.
Pittsley has shined his new role with the Ryde Eastwood Hawks as he has a 5-3 record with one save, a 2.94 ERA, 61 strikeouts, and .208 batting average against in 67 1/3 IP, and 18 appearances overall. Goldstick, an All-CCC Honorable Mention catcher as a junior, has also played well with a .286 batting average with 13 runs, 10 RBI, six stolen bases, and a .977 fielding percentage in 18 games.
Pittsley's baseball experience even took a step further when the head coach from Sydney Blue Sox of the Australian Baseball League contacted him.
"He had seen me pitch a couple times and was interested in taking a look at me. The next day I went to their practice, threw a bullpen for the coach, and signed my first professional contract five minutes later. The ABL experience gave me the opportunity to practice and play alongside ex-major leaguers and current minor league players. My baseball knowledge has increased tremendously because I learned from the best."
Along with the athletic experience abroad, Pittsley and Goldstick have been forced to get used to living and working in a completely different environment. Both have picked up coaching work with various baseball clinics for the younger Ryde teams, even taking on their own 18-year-old team. With Pittsley coaching the pitchers, Goldstick as the hitting instructor, and former Texas Christian University player Scott Tabrett as the head coach, the team went into their playoffs with a 13-1 record.
Pittsley and Goldstick have also taken full advantage of their international opportunity by traveling up the North Coast for two weeks during the Christmas break, stopping in Port Stephens, Nelson Bay, Seal Rocks, Forster, Port Maquarie, Coffs Harbour, and Byron Bay. On off days during the season, they have visited Darling Harbour and Circular Quay which is home to the Harbour Bridge and the infamous Sydney Opera House.
"The opportunity to continue to play baseball at a higher level is every college player's dream and Brendan and Robbie are getting to live that dream," said Endicott head coach Bryan Haley. "I'm very proud of them. It takes a lot of courage to fly halfway around the world to live in and explore a new culture. They are being rewarded for that courage as they are having one of the best experiences of their lives, both on and off the field."
"My experience playing baseball at Endicott prepared me very well for this trip as for the rest of my life," said Goldstick. "Being part of the team with my 'brothers' showed me what a team atmosphere should be like and helped me to be a good teammate and personal, in general. I will forever look back on this experience as an amazing time in which I was able to grow as a person, a player, and a potential coach."
"I really have to thank Coach Haley for providing me with this life-changing opportunity as well a Endicott College for enabling me to grow as a person," said Pittsley. "If you asked me five years ago if I could travel to a different country, on my own, and live with people, in a culture, who I don't know I probably wouldn't have given myself a chance. I am a different person now."