SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Endicott baseball team swept their regular season doubleheader with CCC rival Western New England on Sunday on the arms of two impressive starts by sophomore JJ Branch (Milford, Mass.) and freshman Luke Morse (Westford, Mass.), who both allowed just four hits in complete game victories.
Endicott (13-4, 5-1 CCC) and Western New England (7-11, 3-4 CCC) were meeting for the first time since the 2013 CCC Championship in which the Gulls won their first title in seven seasons with a 12-3 triumph. The Gulls next turn their attention to another important conference doubleheader on Monday, April 7th at home against league leader Roger Williams (16-6, 8-0 CCC). The matchup between the Gulls and Hawks begins at 3:30 pm at Endicott's North Field.
Game One: Endicott 2, Western New England 1
Branch (3-0) allowed just one unearned run on four hits and no walks while striking out five in the sophomore's second-straight complete game win after beating Salve Regina earlier in the week. Branch shut down the Golden Bears 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first, but in the second saw one run cross the plate on a sacrifice fly to center by Matt Anziano (Belchertown, Mass.).
Western New England put the game-tying run on second base in the bottom of the seventh with one out, but Branch recorded his final strikeout and forced a game-ending fly out to left to secure the game one victory. Branch also benefited from strong defense behind him as shortstop Cody Hall (Rutland, Mass.) and second baseman Harry Oringer (Dartmouth, Mass.) erased a leadoff single in the bottom of the fifth with a 6-4-3 double-play.
Endicott's offense was produced in back-to-back innings as senior Tad Gold (Martha's Vineyard, Mass.) grounded out to second to score Oringer who had reached on an infield single to start the top of the fourth. One inning later, senior first baseman Brett Holmgren (Middleboro, Mass.) singled to center and advanced to second after a groundout to get into scoring position. After a walk to Hall, senior Conor Ressel (Rockport, Mass.) hit a double-play ball to short that resulted in an errant throw by the second baseman which allowed Holmgren to score the go-ahead run.
Game Two: Endicott 6, Western New England 2
Morse (2-1) picked up where Branch left off in game two, allowing two earned runs on four hits and one walk with four strikeouts to secure Endicott's doubleheader sweep over Western New England. Western New England once again took a 1-0 lead over Endicott, but the Gulls offense switched into gear in the fourth inning with one run and the fifth inning with four runs to take control of the game.
Facing a 1-0 deficit, senior EJ Martinez (Brooklyn, N.Y.) hit a RBI single to bring home Gold to tie the game. In their next at bat, Endicott loaded the bases on three straight singles by Oringer, Matthew Paola (Middlebury, Conn.), and Gold. Martinez followed with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Oringer but saw Paola gunned down at third base. With two outs, a pinch-hit batted ball by Michael Cahill (Plymouth, Mass.) to short that resulted in a throwing error which scored Holmgren. Ressel came up with runners on first and second later in the inning and drove a double to right that scored Farnham, a pinch-runner for Cahill.
Western New England got one run back in the bottom of the fifth on a RBI groundout but the Gulls took that run right back in the top of the seventh as Farnham walked to reach base, advanced to second on a sacrifice, stole third base and then scored on a throwing error by the Golden Bears catcher.
Morse remained in the game in the bottom of the seventh and rebounded from a leadoff walk to force three consecutive ground balls to end the game.