BEVERLY, Mass. – With their sights set on a possible at-large berth into the NCAA Division III New England Regional Tournament with three games remaining, the Endicott baseball team defeated MIT, the recently crowned champions of the NEWMAC, by a score of 6-2 to see their 2015 record improve to 24-17 overall.
Junior JJ Branch (Milford, Mass.) pitched a solid 6 2/3 innings for the win (6-3) allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits and three walks and in the process set a career-high with eight strikeouts. After allowing a RBI double to MIT junior outfielder Alec Echevarria (Chula Vista, Calif.), Branch turned the ball over to junior reliever Nick Quattro (Canton, Conn.) who tossed 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief with one hit allowed as he earned his third save of the season.
Endicott's 15-hit outburst against the Engineers was their most since knocking around Bates for 22 hits back on April 18th in a 22-8 win. Leading the way with three hits apiece for the Gulls were senior left fielder Michael Cahill (Plymouth, Mass.) and junior designated hitter Anthony Serina (Portsmouth, R.I.). Cahill was one of five different Endicott hitters to record a RBI which also included senior captain Harry Oringer (Dartmouth, Mass.) and junior first baseman Matthew Paola (Middlebury, Conn.) who both cracked solo homeruns.
Junior shortstop Cody Hall (Rutland, Mass.), who is batting .412 (7-for-17) in his last five games, continued to swing a hot bat for Endicott with two hits including a two-run triple to deep centerfield in the bottom of the second with two outs to score Cahill and Josh Drew (Intervale, N.H.) for the game's first runs.
One inning later, Oringer led off the bottom of the third with solo line drive homerun over the left field wall for his team-leading seventh blast of the season which ties former Gull Matt Bishop '06 for the third most in a single season. The inning continued with one out as sophomore third baseman Mike Kochiss (Fairfield, Conn.) singled, Drew walked for the second time, and Paola dropped a single in front of the left fielder to load the bases. Cahill took the first pitch he saw from reliever Jason Morrison (Frisco, Texas) and placed it through the left side of the infield to score Kochiss from third to put Endicott ahead 4-0 after three innings.
Paola's solo bomb to right, his third of the year and first since April 6th against Suffolk, put the Gulls ahead 5-0 in the bottom of the fifth. Branch, who had shutout MIT through the first five innings, finally ran into trouble in the top of the sixth with runners on second and third with no outs and senior right fielder Hayden Cornwell (Newport Beach, Calif.) at the plate. Cornwell's fly out to right brought home freshman Austin Filiere (Chandler, Ariz.) who had reached on an error to lead off the inning. Branch settled down to get his seventh and eighth strikeouts of the game to end the threat with the score 5-1 Endicott.
Branch got the first two outs of the top of the seventh on infield groundouts but Echevarria sparked a two-out rally by drawing a walk and swiping second base to get into scoring position. Sophomore second baseman John Drago (Peoria, Ariz.) brought home Echevarria on a sharp line down the third base line that went off Kochiss' glove and ricocheted into foul territory. Drago's RBI double made it a 5-2 game and forced a pitching change for the Gulls.
Quattro came on for his team-leading 23rd appearance and closed the door on MIT for the final seven outs to get his third save of the year. With 2 1/3 shutout innings, Quattro's ERA lowered to 1.53.
Endicott's quest to garner an at-large bid into the NCAA postseason bracket continues with their final doubleheader of the regular season on Saturday, May 9th against GNAC automatic qualifiers Suffolk. Action from North Field begins at 12:00 p.m. MIT has one final test before they play in the NCAA Regional when the Engineers take on St. Joseph's (Maine) on Thursday, May 7th at 4:30 p.m. in Standish, Maine.