BEVERLY, Mass. – The two-time defending CCC champion Endicott baseball team will have their backs against the wall for the remainder of the conference tournament after suffering a 2-0 loss to the #6 seed Salve Regina in the opening game of the CCC Tournament. The double elimination tournament continues on Friday, May 1st when the top seed Endicott (22-16) hosts #2 Western New England (18-17) for a 4:00 p.m. first pitch.
Salve Regina (23-14) travels to #4 Gordon (15-18-1) who suffered a loss in their first round game for a 3:30 p.m. start on Friday in Wenham.
Salve Regina senior starter Kyle Pheland (North Scituate, R.I.) tossed a complete-game, nine-inning shutout, scattered five hits and walked one while striking out three to see his season record improve to 4-2 with the impressive performance. Pheland only allowed one Endicott runner to reach third base and forced three double-play balls including one on his final pitch to erase any chance for a comeback in the bottom of the ninth with the game-tying run at the plate.
The Seahawks quickly got on the board in the top of the first as junior centerfielder Ryan Kelly (Waldwick, N.J.) singled to left to lead off the game then found himself on third after an errant throw on a pickoff attempt rolled deep into foul territory. Sophomore second baseman Alek Kucich (Old Brookville, N.Y.) drove a single to right center for his 14th RBI of the season to put Salve Regina up 1-0.
In the bottom of the second, Endicott got their leadoff batter into scoring position as sophomore third baseman Mike Kochiss (Fairfield, Conn.) lined a double to left. After junior designated hitter Anthony Serina's (Portsmouth, R.I.) fly out to center pushed Kochiss up 90 feet, the Seahawk defense made strong defensive play to end the threat as the next batter grounded to third base and the throw home caught Kochiss trying to score for the second out. Pheland would get the third out on a groundball to second to end the second inning.
Kelly, who scored Salve Regina's run in the top of the first, delivered the Seahawks' second and final run of the game on a solo homerun down the left field line that was called fair with two outs in the top of the third. It was Kelly's fifth homerun of the spring.
Endicott junior righty JJ Branch (Milford, Mass.), apart from the Salve Regin's offensive output in the first and third innings, would shut down the Seahawk lineup as he allowed just five hits and no walks over eight innings pitched six strikeouts before handing the ball over junior reliever and CCC Pitcher of the Year Nick Quattro (Canton, Conn.) for a scoreless top of the ninth. Branch would suffer the loss (5-3) despite setting down the Seahawks 1-2-3 in four different innings and forcing two double-play balls to the infield.
Kochiss and senior captain Harry Oringer (Dartmouth, Mass.) both went 2-for-4 in the game while junior shortstop Cody Hall (Rutland, Mass.) had a hit out of the eight-hole. For Salve Regina, Kelly and Kucich each had two hits and a RBI while Kelly scored both Salve Regina runs. Kucich would also register a stolen base in the top of the ninth and advance to third as the throw went into centerfield but Quattro stranded the runner with a groundout to end the inning.