BEVERLY, Mass. – Looking to improve their chances at earning a NCAA DIII Tournament at-large bid, the Endicott baseball team played host to GNAC winners Suffolk on Saturday for a double header. The Gulls entered the game having defeated NEWMAC winner MIT 6-2 on Tuesday behind 6.2 strong innings from JJ Branch (Milford, Mass.) and a 2.1 inning save from CCC Pitcher of the Year Nick Quattro (Canton, Conn.). The Gulls would claim two wins on the day, improving their season record to 26-17 while the Rams fell to 18-24. Endicott now awaits the NCAA DIII Tournament release late on Sunday to see if they have received an at-large bid.
GAME ONE: Endicott 2 - Suffolk 0
Needing wins, Endicott handed the ball to #1 starter JJ Branch for the second straight game. The junior right hander proved to be up to the task, pitching a complete game shutout, surrendering just four hits and three walks over seven innings while striking out four. The four strikeouts now gives him 53 strikeouts on the year, eclipsing Quattro for first on the roster while he improved his record to 7-3, tying him with Quattro for the team lead.
Offense would be at a premium throughout, as both teams would register just four hits as both staffs allowed just three walks over the seven innings. One difference in the contest would be hit batsmen, as four Endicott batter were hit by pitches while Branch avoided that all-together.
Suffolk would see three pitchers take the mound as the Rams were seemingly looking to get their staff some regular work as they had already clinched an NCAA berth. Kyle Turner (Nashua, N.H.) would get the nod to start as the sophomore would go three shutout innings without allowing any hits and walking just two. The righty would give way to Jake Flax (Wyckoff, N.J.) in the fourth, where Endicott would strike for their first run of the day.
Endicott DH Anthony Serina (Portsmouth, R.I.) would lead off the inning a shot to right center that would lift over the centerfielder's head and get to the fence, putting a runner on second for the Gulls to start the inning. Third baseman Mike Kochiss (Fairfield, Conn.) would draw a four pitch walk to bring Michael Cahill (Plymouth, Mass.) to the plate with men on first and second and no outs. Cahill would attempt a bunt down the first base line that would pop up as the first baseman would make a diving attempt at it. The ball would land just out of reach as runners would be safe at every base with still no one out. That would bring catcher Josh Drew ( Intervale, N.H.) to the plate. Flax would get Drew to ground to short, inducing the 6-4-3 double play, that would bring home the game's first run. Nicholas DeLotto (Southbury, Conn.) would then come up and pop up to short to end the inning.
The Gulls would strike again in the bottom of the fifth, as Cody Hall (Rutland, Mass.) would lead off the inning by getting hit for the second time of the game, the first for Flax. Cam Farnham (Andover, Mass.) would execute a perfect sacrifice bunt down the first baseline that would advance Hall to second with one out. Matthew Paola (Middlebury, Conn.) would then get hit by a pitch, putting men at first and second with Harry Oringer (Dartmouth, Mass.) coming to the plate. Oringer would slap a grounder to the right side of the infield that would find the hole between the first and second basemen and bring in Hall to give Endicott their second run of the day.
That would be the end of the day offensively for both teams as Branch continued to keep the Rams' bats quiet, while Chuck Gibson (Malden, Mass.) would come in in relief of Flax and toss 1.2 innings of 1 hit ball to close out the game.
With the win in game one, Endicott improved to 25-17 overall while Branch improved his record to 7-3. For Suffolk, Flax would take the loss to fall to 3-4 on the year while the Rams dropped to 18-23 overall.
GAME TWO: Endicott 8 - Suffolk 5
Endicott would turn to Owen Bautze (Sudbury, Mass.) in the second game of the twin bill as the Gulls would look to sweep the Rams. Bautze cruised through first the inning as the Rams went three up and three down, one via strikeout, while the Gulls were able to touch up Suffolk starter Paul Pollano (North Andover, Mass.) for two hits and one run in the first inning.
The offense would get started by Paola as he led off the game with a single to center before stealing second. Harry Oringer would then fly out into foul territory that would allow Paola to advance to third with one out. Junior DH Anthony Serina would ground an RBI single up the middle, scoring Paola to bring home the Endicott run before Cahill lined to center and Serina was caught stealing at third, giving Endicott a 1-0 lead after the first.
As the Rams were looking to strike back in the second, Bautze ran into a bit of trouble after getting the first out by striking out senior JC Collette (Amesbury, Mass.). Sophomore Luke Ronchi (Randolph, N.J.) would get on first after a single before stealing second to give Suffolk their first runner in scoring position of the game. The Rams then saw junior Drew Carter (Newburyport, Mass.) single down the left field line to score Ronchi before advancing to second with a Seth Coiley (Arlington, Mass.) single down the left field line as well. After getting the second out via a fielder's choice at second base, Bautze would get BJ Neil (Lynnfield, Mass.) to ground out to second to end the inning and escape any further damage.
Endicott would be quick to answer in the bottom of the second as the Rams made a pitching change, putting Mike Masulli (Prospect, Conn.) on the mound. Sophomore Chase Sullivan (Cumberland, R.I.) started the inning by doubling to left field before Michael DeDonato (Chelmsford, Mass.) would catch the defense off-balance, laying down a bunt that would go for a single and advance Sullivan to third. A passed ball on Suffolk catcher Collette would move DeDonato to second but the catcher was able to find the ball quickly off the backstop and throw to a covering Masulli at home who applied the tag to Sullivan at the plate while DeDonato then moved up to third on the play. Cody Hall would then step into the box and deliver a single up the middle to record his 11th RBI of the season. Hall would advance to second on his 7th steal of the season but a pop to the catcher and a fly out to center would end the Endicott inning.
The third inning would be quiet for both teams as Bautze would silent the Rams bats in the top of the third, collecting his second 1-2-3 inning as he induced two groundouts and a fly out to keep Suffolk off the board before Suffolk pitcher David Apostolides (Peabody, Mass.) would get Oringer to ground to short before striking out Serina to record two quick outs. Mike Kochiss would earn a two out walk before Cahill popped out to short to end the inning, keeping the score 2-1 in favor of the Gulls.
Suffolk would even the game in the top of the second as Collette would triple to centerfield on a ball that just barely stayed in the field of play. With a man on third and no outs, Endicott coach Bryan Haley would hand the ball off to CCC Pitcher of the Year Nick Quattro. Quattro was able to strike out Ronchi before Carter lifted a sac fly to center field that scored Collette. A single by Coiley through the left side would be the last hit of the inning before Adam Johnson (Georgetown, Mass.) grounded to third to end the inning.
The bottom of the fourth would see Endicott fire back and reclaim the lead behind a three run outburst that consisted of three walks, one hit and an error. Tim Conroy (Arlington, Mass.) would start the inning for Suffolk and would immediately walk Sullivan to put a runner on. DeDonato would sacrifice him up to second before Hall would walk, putting men on first and second with one out. Sophomore outfielder Cam Farnham stepped to the plate next and ripped a double down the left field line, bringing in both runners to give Endicott a 4-2 lead. The speedy outfielder would then move up to third with his 19th steal of the season, second only to DeDonato, bringing Paola back to the plate with a man on third and one out. Paola would ground to first but an error on the throw to the plate by Kyle Turner (Nashua, N.H.) brought Farnham home and let Paola reach first safely, making the score 5-2. The junior outfielder attempted to swipe his 17th bag of the season but a strong throw from Collette instead marked the second out of the inning for the Gulls. An Oringer walk would spell the end of the day for Conroy and bring Chadd Morin (Unionville, Conn.) who would strike out Serina to end the inning.
With Quattro remaining on the mound, Suffolk would again go down 1-2-3, with two groundouts and a strikeout of Chant, Quattro's 52nd strikeout of the season. That kept the score 5-2 in favor of the Gulls after four and a half innings of play.
Heading into the bottom of the fifth, Morin took the mound again for the Rams and would start by walking Kochiss. The sophomore righty would rebound by inducing a grounder to short by Cahill that moved Kochiss up to second with one out. A Chase Sullivan walk, his second of the game, put men on first and second and brought DeDonato to the plate who promptly singled up the middle to load the bases with one out. With three men on, shortstop Cody Hall stepped into the batter's box and launched a ground rule double to right center, scoring Sullivan and Kochiss while advancing DeDonato to third and making the score 7-2. A Cam Farnham sac fly to center brought home DeDonato to give Endicott the 8-2 lead and bring in Wyatt Stanley (Placentia, Calif.) to pitch for the Rams. Stanley struggled at first, hitting both Paola and Oringer to load the bases before getting Serina to strike out to end the inning.
Quattro would come back out in the top of the sixth and record two quick outs, getting a ground out from Jon Lapolla (Providence, R.I.) and striking out Collette before giving up a walk to Rob Marks (Revere, Mass.). Quattro would bear down and strike out Carter to end the threat.
The Gulls would also go quietly in their share of the sixth of Cal Carroll (Methuen, Mass.) would get two outs via a groundout and strikeout before allowing a single to the left to Sullivan before inducing a second groundout to get out of the inning unscathed. Following six, the Gulls still led 8-2.
With Suffolk needing to score six to prolong the game, the Rams would come up short as they were able to score three in the top of the sixth to end the game with Endicott taking both, the second by an 8-5 final. With the win, Endicott improves to 26-17 on the season and will now await the NCAA DIII Tournament release to see if they have made the field of 56 as an at-large bid. Reliever Nick Quattro gets the win for the Gulls, improving his record to 8-1 on the season while the loss goes to Suffolk's Tim Conroy as he falls to 0-3. Suffolk, now 18-24, will also be awaiting the release, as they look to find out who their first round matchup will be as they won the GNAC and secured the automatic bid.