BEVERLY, Mass. – The Endicott baseball team, ranked sixth in the first NEIBA regional poll, won their home opener 3-1 over Worcester State behind eight innings on the mound from junior righty JJ Branch (Milford, Mass.) and timely hitting in the bottom of the eighth that produced two runs that broke a 1-1 tie.
Endicott (4-5) scored an unearned run in the bottom of the fourth on a RBI groundout to second off the bat of junior right fielder Matthew Paola (Middlebury, Conn.) before the Lancers tied the game in the top of the sixth on a sacrifice fly to center by sophomore outfielder Jake Ryan (Whitinsville, Mass.). The Gulls saw junior shortstop double off the base of the left field wall with one to get in scoring position before freshman left fielder Michael DeDonato (Chelmsford, Mass.) tripled to right to score the go-ahead run. Freshman centerfielder Cam Farnham (Andover, Mass.) would bring home DeDonato with a sacrifice fly to tack on an insurance run to make it 3-1.
Gulls junior reliever Davarn Nova (Buzzards Bay, Mass.) struck out the first batter he faced and forced a groundout to second before Worcester State put on a runner on with an infield single in the top of the ninth. Nova ended the game by getting the final batter to groundout to Mike Kochiss (Fairfield, Conn.) to secure his first save of the season and the sixth of his career.
Endicott is back in action on Wednesday at home against #9/#12 Southern Maine, the top ranked team in New England, for a 3:30 p.m. start. Worcester State (5-7) visits WPI on Wednesday with the game being played at the New England Baseball Complex in Northboro starting at 3:30 p.m.
Branch (1-1) threw 84 pitches in his eighth innings, allowing five hits and earned run while striking out six for his first win of the 2015 season. Lancers starter, sophomore Kris Doyle (Millbury, Mass.), pitched three scoreless innings with one hit allowed and one punch out before handing the ball over to the bullpen. Worcester State senior right-hander Joe Perlak (Chicopee, Mass.) fell suffered the loss falling to 1-1 after allowing the two Endicott runs in the bottom of the eighth despite setting down the Gulls lineup 1-2-3 in the sixth and seventh frames.
DeDonato went 2-for-3 with a run scored and a RBI in the win while Lancers leadoff hitter Zach George (Attleboro, Mass.) got two hits in four trips to the plate.
Defensively, Endicott benefited from two base running miscues by Worcester State as Branch picked off George in the top of the fourth after leading off the inning with a single and in the seventh, after senior David Ruggiero (Peabody, Mass.) hit an infield single, the Gulls executed a double-play by striking out the batter and junior catcher Josh Drew (Intervale, N.H.) gunning out Ruggiero trying to steal second base.
DeDonato, Kochiss, and freshman designated hitter Brad Rebello (Bellingham, Mass.) all recorded stolen bases off Worcester State pitching in the win.