BEVERLY, Mass. – The Endicott baseball advanced in the CCC Tournament on Friday afternoon with a 7-5 victory over Wentworth behind seven solid innings from conference Pitcher of the Year JJ Branch (Milford, Mass.) and important insurance run-production in the bottom of the seventh that included back-to-back RBI triples by senior CCC Player of the Year Tad Gold (Martha's Vineyard, Mass.) and sophomore All-CCC First Teamer Matthew Paola (Middlebury, Conn.).
The Gulls (27-12), playing as the top-seed in the tournament, move on to host #4 Salve Regina on Saturday, May 3rd at 12:00 pm at North Field. The Seahawks lost their first game of the CCC Tournament in the bottom of the ninth at #3 Western New England 7-6 and are facing elimination with a loss to Endicott on Saturday. Endicott will host the remainder of their CCC Tournament games.
The Leopards (15-17) trailed 7-2 going into their final at bat in the top of the ninth but quickly loaded the bases Gulls senior reliever Connor McLaughlin (Clinton, Mass.) to threaten Endicott's lead. Sophomore designated hitter Greg Confessore (West Hartford, Conn.) was hit by a pitch to bring the first of three runs in the inning and was followed by another hit batsman, senior centerfielder Paul Dassau (Franklin, Mass.), to walk in another run and a RBI groundout to first by senior shortstop Jon Spitz (Hanover, Mass.) to make it a 7-5 game. McLaughlin would walk the next batter to reload the bases but got the final out on a dribbler to the mound to end the game.
Branch (7-1) pitched five scoreless innings until Wentworth put up runs in the sixth and seventh innings before the sophomore exited the game. Branch finished with six strikeouts, two pickoffs, and two earned runs allowed on seven hits and a walk as he improved to 2-0 against Wentworth this season. In the top of the sixth, Leopards junior left fielder grounded into a 4-6-3 double-play but the runner on third advanced home no outs on the board to make it a 4-1 game. The next inning, Confessore hit a sacrifice fly to center with one out to score junior catcher Jake Mailman (Medway, Mass.) who had reached on a single to lead off the inning.
Mailman finished the game 2-for-3 and became the 18th Wentworth player to crack the 100-hit plateau for his career.
Endicott's offensive production early in the game proved to be vital towards putting the Gulls in a position to win. In the bottom of the first after freshman left fielder Cam Farnham (Andover, Mass.) doubled to lead off the inning and advanced to third on a single to left by senior first baseman Brett Holmgren (Middleboro, Mass.), Gold roped a double to right center to plate Farnham. Paola came up next and grounded out to second base to bring home Holmgren who was sitting on third base.
Endicott tacked on another run in the bottom of the second as Farnham hit a single to center to score sophomore right fielder Steve Morganelli (Milford, Mass.) who reached on a leadoff single through the infield earlier in the inning. Three innings later, Holmgren made it a 4-0 game with a two-out RBI single to right to bring home Farnham for his second run of the game.
Endicott's big inning came in the bottom of the seventh, leading 4-2, as a RBI groundout by Holmgren then back-to-back triples by Gold and Paola put three runs on the board to push the Gulls lead up to 7-2. Gold, who ranks fifth in the country in triples, laced a ball down the right field line for his ninth three-bagger of the season.
Farnham and Gold extended their hitting streaks to 11 games with 2-for-4 performances at the plate each. Gold has hit safely in 16 of his last 17 games dating back to April 12th.