BEVERLY, Mass. – Junior catcher Chase Sullivan's (Cumberland, R.I.) first collegiate homerun in the bottom of the fifth, a solo shot over the left field wall, proved to be the difference-maker as Endicott edged UMass Boston 8-7 at North Field on Monday afternoon in non-conference action. The Beacons trailed by four in the top of the ninth and used a three-run homerun by senior second baseman Jose Pena (Boston, Mass.) to pull within one, but Gulls senior reliever Connor McLaughlin (Clinton, Mass.) was able to close the door for his fifth save of the season.
With two CCC games being played on Monday, Endicott (26-12) now awaits their first round opponent in the upcoming conference tournament as the Gulls own the top seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. First round action in the 2014 CCC Tournament is expected to begin on Thursday, May 1st at 4:00 pm on North Field.
UMass Boston (14-19) is back on the field tomorrow afternoon at Wheaton (Mass.) for a 3:30 pm first pitch in Norton. On Monday, the Beacons were led by Pena's 1-for-3 day at the plate that included a walk, three RBI, and two runs scored.
Gulls freshman starter Luke Morse (Westford, Mass.) took the mound and pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing three unearned runs to cross the plate on four hits and one walk with two strikeouts as the rookie improved to 4-4 on the season. UMass Boston was able to take advantage of four Endicott errors on the day by scoring unearned runs in the second, fourth, and sixth innings. Morse lowered his season ERA to 3.51 while earning his first victory since April 6th, a game two win over CCC rival Western New England.
Beacons senior righty Will Barrack (Lancaster, Va.) started the game but lasted just two innings as the Endicott lineup produced seven earned runs off of Barrack (0-3) thanks in part to timely hitting from sophomore shortstop Cody Hall (Rutland, Mass.). Hall came to the plate in the bottom of the second with the bases loaded and no outs after sophomore Steve Morganelli (Milford, Mass.) walked to lead off the inning followed by back-to-back singles by freshman designated hitter Mike Kochiss (Fairfield, Conn.) and Sullivan. Hall followed with shot over the centerfielder's head that cleared the bases for a three-run double. Later in the inning with runners on second and third and one out, senior first baseman Brett Holmgren (Middleboro, Mass.) singled home Hall but was thrown out at second trying to stretch his hit into a double.
Hall added his fourth RBI of the game, a career-high, on a fielder's choice grounder to second as the sophomore beat out a double-play ball that would have ended the inning. The run gave Endicott a 7-1 lead after just three innings of play.
After UMass Boston scored an unearned run in the fourth on a first and second double-steal that saw Sullivan's attempt at third base go wild to send Pena home, Sullivan made up for his miscue with a two-out solo bomb over the fence in left field to put Endicott ahead 8-2.
The Beacons relied on their bullpen to keep the Gulls offense in check as seniors Matt Dziok (Southampton, Mass.) and Tom Cole (Mattapoisett, Mass.) combined for six innings of four-hit, one-run pitching to close out the game. The only mistake was Dziok's offering to Sullivan that resulted in the game-winning homerun.
With the score 8-3 in the bottom of the top of the seventh, UMass Boston cut the lead down to four after a ground ball up the middle by freshman third baseman Daniel Mantoni (Northbridge, Mass.) allowed freshman Anthony Searles (Shelton, Conn.) to score from third. Pena's three-run homerun in the ninth provided some late dramatics with two outs but McLaughlin settled down to force the final batter to groundout to second to end the game.
Endicott leadoff batter, freshman Cam Farnham (Andover, Mass.), continued his hot hitting with a 4-for-5 day at the plate to up his average to .343 this spring. Farnham and senior Tad Gold (Martha's Vineyard, Mass.) were both able to extend their recent hitting streaks to 10 games with hits in the bottom of the first. Gold's 10-game streak is second-longest of his career, second only to his 15-game span in the 2013 season.