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Branch, Hill, and Nova Combine for Six-Hit Shutout of Lancers

Branch, Hill, and Nova Combine for Six-Hit Shutout of Lancers

BEVERLY, Mass. – Playing in their home opener at North Field on Thursday afternoon, the Endicott baseball team defeated MASCAC opponent Worcester State 2-0 behind a combined, six-hit shutout from three Gulls pitchers. Sophomore right-hander Davarn Nova (Wareham, Mass.) pitched the final five scoreless frames to earn his first victory of the season (1-1).

Endicott (6-2) won their fourth straight game in their first contest after returning from Central Florida less than a week ago. The Gulls look to continue their recent success at home again tomorrow as they take on the nation's fifth-ranked team and the top team in the region, Southern Maine (10-3), at 3:30 pm on North Field.

Worcester State (4-8) will kick off their conference schedule on Saturday, March 29th with a home doubleheader against MCLA (2-7) starting at 12:00 pm. The Lancers got three strong innings out of both junior starter Jared Kuzio (Franklin, Mass.) and freshman Andrew Wells (Methuen, Mass.) both pitchers saw a run cross home plate. Kuzio took the loss to fall to 0-2, allowing one unearned run in the bottom of the first, while Wells saw an infield groundout plate the game's second in the bottom of the sixth.

In the bottom of the first, Gulls junior second baseman Harry Oringer (Dartmouth, Mass.) reached on a fielding error and eventually stood on third base after two back-to-back walks to Brett Holmgren (Middleboro, Mass.) and Tad Gold (Martha's Vineyard, Mass.). With the bases loaded sophomore shortstop Matthew Paola (Middlebury, Conn.)sent a fly into foul ground in left field that was grabbed on a sliding catch by Worcester State junior Jeff Bolio (Oxford, Mass.). Oringer would score easily from third to make it a 1-0 game.

Gulls starter JJ Branch (Milford, Mass.) pitched a scoreless first, second, and third innings, allowing just three runners to reach base on two hits and a walk, before giving way to senior Tyler Hill (Las Vegas, Nev.) who, despite surrendering a  single to Zach George (Attleboro, Mass.) and a double to Bolio in the inning, escaped without any damage.

With Nova on the mound starting in the fifth inning, the Gulls looked for an insurance run and got it in the bottom of the sixth. Gold started the inning with a single to right and advanced to second after the second error of the game by the Lancers. Endicott senior designated hitter EJ Martinez (Brooklyn, Mass.) dropped a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners 90 feet and on a Mike Kochiss (Fairfield, Conn.) groundout to second base, Gold was able to push the Blue and Green lead up to 2-0.

Nova cruised through his stint on the bump, going 1-2-3 in the fifth, sixth, and eighth innings and allowing just one base runner in the seventh and ninth innings. In the top of the ninth with one out, Lancers pinch hitter Rob MacDonald (Waltham, Mass.) singled to get the tying run up to bat but Nova forced a sharp grounder to short to start the 6-4-3 double-play to end the game.