WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – The defending Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) champion Endicott baseball team kicked off their 2014 season with a game against Little East foe Keene State down at the RussMatt Invitational and the Gulls erupted for a 24-2 victory to start off their spring campaign 1-0. Senior centerfield Tad Gold (Martha's Vineyard, Mass.) led Endicott's offensive outburst with a 4-for-5 day at the plate with six RBI and four runs scored.
Along with the team's 12 hits, which included two triples by Gold, and 19 RBIs, the rotation's ace JJ Branch (Milford, Mass.) took the bump and hurled six innings to earn the win. Branch allowed just three hits, walked two batters, and recorded a strikeout while seeing two unearned runs cross the plate. Freshman Adam Blake (Mansfield, Mass.) came on in relief in the seventh and final inning to close it out, allowing one base runner.
The Gulls also got a four-hit game from sophomore catcher Josh Drew (Intervale, N.H.) who plated three runners and scored twice himself. Sophomores Matthew Paola (Middlebury, Conn.) scored four runs, hit a two-RBI single, and walked three times and junior Harry Oringer (Dartmouth, Mass.) totaled three runs with a RBI. Senior first baseman Brett Holmgren scored three times, hit a double, and walked in the win.
In the top the first, Keene State got their leadoff man on via base on balls but after a fly out, Branch cleared the bases by picking off the Owl runner. Endicott got through the rest of the inning unscathed to deliver their turn up at bat. With one out in the bottom of the first and the bases full of Gulls, Gold tripled to clear the bases and push Endicott ahead 3-0. Drew added a RBI single to score Michael Cahill (Plymouth, Mass.) to make it a 4-0 game heading into the second.
Keene State picked up a run in the top of the second on an error but Endicott tacked on two runs in the bottom of the second and third innings to make it an 8-1 game. A five-run bottom of the fifth for Endicott came as a result of RBI hits from Gold and Drew but three runs scored on an error by the Keene State right fielder on a ball hit off the bat of senior Taylor English (Barre, Vt.).
A double by Owls junior Matt Boulay (Stafford Springs, Conn.) brought home Keene State's second run, but Endicott responded with 11 runs to blow the game wide open. Endicott loaded the bases and brought home runs four times via a walk, twice on singles, and once more on a fielder's choice. Gold tripled to plate Paola and freshman Mike Kochiss (Fairfield, Conn.) and Nick Quattro's (Canton, Mass.) groundout capped off the scoring.
Endicott improved to 5-3 all-time against Keene State with the win. The Gulls avenged a 2012 defeat to Keene State from March 15th, 2012 when they lost 8-5 to the Owls during spring break that season. Prior to that meeting, Endicott and Keene State did not play since the 2004 season. Keene State was ousted from the Little East Tournament by national runner up Southern Maine last spring.
Endicott continues their spring break schedule with a game against Eastern Connecticut State on Monday, March 17th at 2:30 pm. The game is being played at Chain of Lakes Stadium in Winter Haven, Florida.