SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Endicott has been selected by the head coaches of the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) to three-peat as conference champions in 2015 after the Gulls receive as all nine first place votes for a total of 81 points in the CCC Baseball Preseason Coaches' Poll. Endicott is coming off a 34-16 (13-3 CCC) season in 2014 that included a CCC Championship and NCAA New England Regional finals appearance.
In the preseason poll, Endicott (81) finished ahead of Roger Williams (66), Salve Regina (65), Western New England (58), Wentworth (36), Gordon (28), Nichols (27), Eastern Nazarene (24), and Curry (20).
The Endicott baseball program enters the 2015 season as the two-defending champions of the CCC as well as finalists for the NCAA New England Regional title. Eighth-year head coach Bryan Haley, who has led Endicott to a position of prominence in the region and nationally with a 197-122 (.618) overall record during his tenure, once again has his players focused and prepared for run towards a seventh conference championship and appearance in NCAA postseason play.
The team's preparation and development for what the players and coaching staff expect to be a successful season will be tested numerous times throughout the year as Haley has crafted his most difficult schedule to-date with national powerhouse programs, NCAA Regional qualifiers, and regionally ranked teams. The gauntlet begins with the team's season opener down at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational with the nation's third-ranked Cortland State Red Dragons followed two days later by #10 Birmingham Southern. NCAA New York Regional at-large qualifier Amherst will also be on the spring training docket.
Back in New England, Endicott's schedule does not let up with 2014 New England Regional teams #6 Southern Maine, #22 Eastern Connecticut, MIT, St. Joseph's (Maine), and Worcester State all on the schedule. The Southern Maine Huskies have been Endicott's NCAA New England Championship opponent in the last two seasons and have gone on to the College World Series, making the title game in 2013 and the loser's bracket final in 2014.
The loss of D3Baseball.com Player of the Year and ABCA/Rawlings First Team All-American Tad Gold, ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove first baseman Brett Holmgren, and All-CCC First Team catcher EJ Martinez to graduation will be sorely missed. The return, however, of seven other all-conference honorees including 2014 CCC Pitcher of the Year JJ Branch (Milford, Mass.), CCC Rookie of the Year Cam Farnham (Andover, Mass.), and D3Baseball.com Second Team All-American second baseman Harry Oringer (Dartmouth, Mass.) proves the Gulls talent between the lines will be second to none.
Endicott's starting rotation depth is a strength with Branch at the top coming off a 2014 campaign that resulted in an 8-2 record with a 2.88 ERA in 81.1 IP. As a sophomore, Branch limited opposing hitters to a .241 batting average against with only 12 of his 73 hits allowed going for extra bases. A pair of left-handed starters in All-CCC Honorable Mention senior Zac Poland (Essex Junction, Vt.), 7-0 with a 2.61 ERA last spring, and sophomore Luke Morse (Westford, Mass.) who went 6-5 with a 3.57 ERA in 63.0 IP his rookie season.
Haley will also lean on a trio of freshmen in Owen Bautze (Sudbury, Mass.), Brady Hall (Rockville, Md.), and Benjamin Bates (Newport, N.H.) to contribute significant innings over the course of the jam-packed spring season that features 40 games over a six-week span.
The bullpen will be anchored by junior righty Davarn Nova (Buzzards Bay, Mass.) who after a stretch of starts in the beginning of the 2014 season moved to the bullpen and showcased his ability to dominate in long relief and late in games. Nova closed out five games last spring, two in the NCAA Regional including a 7-6 win over Southern Maine. He finished the year with a 4-2 record, five saves, 3.14 ERA, .247 opponent batting average, and 35 strikeouts in 57.1 IP. Joining Nova in the bullpen will be junior Nick Quattro (Canton, Conn.) and freshmen Samuel Fay (Atkinson, N.H.) and Will Ferreira (Nantucket, Mass.).
Catching Endicott's pitching staff behind the dish will be senior Chase Sullivan (Cumberland, R.I.) with junior Josh Drew (Intervale, N.H.) and freshmen Hunter Boyce (Bangor, Maine) competing for the backup position.
Moving around the diamond, junior UConn-Avery Point transfer Nick De Lotto (Southbury, Conn.) will be slotted in at first base. Oringer, the team's lone captain in 2015, takes his usual post at second base after hitting .383 with 47 runs, 36 RBI, and 11 stolen bases in his accolade-laden junior season. With another consistent season, Oringer will find himself at the top or among the leaders in several of the program's statistical categories including hits and runs. At shortstop, All-CCC Honorable Mention junior Cody Hall (Rutland, Mass.) returns after a breakout season in 2014 batting .287 with 28 RBI and 21 runs. In the hot corner, sophomore Mike Kochiss (Fairfield, Conn.) looks to amp up his productivity after hitting .250 in 104 at bats last season.
In the outfield Farnham, who ended the season the season on a 22-game hitting streak and raised his batting average from .268 on April 19th to .371 by season's end, will patrol the outfield along with All-CCC First Teamer Matthew Paola (Middlebury, Conn.) and All-CCC Honorable Mention Steve Morganelli (Milford, Mass.). Paola hit .298 in 2014 with 32 RBI, 37 runs, and 12 stolen bases while Morganelli batted drove in 25 runners and scored 27 times himself with nine stolen bases as a sophomore.
At the designated hitter spot, juniors Corbin Hyde (Lewiston, Maine) and Anthony Serina (Portsmouth, R.I.) as well as senior Michael Cahill (Plymouth, Mass.) will all see time with Hyde also subbing in at first base and the outfield throughout the season.
Off the bench, look for freshman Brad Rebello (Bellingham, Mass.) to see at bats in pinch-hitting situations with freshmen speedsters Michael DeDonato (Chelmsford, Mass.), Michael Casciano (Somers, Conn.), Dan Zabbo (Dracut, Mass.), and Nick Berno (St. Albans, Vt.) coming in pinch-running spots.
2015 CCC Baseball Preseason Coaches' Poll
|Team||Points (First Place Votes)|
|4.||Western New England