Endicott wins first CCC title since 2006

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Endicott won their fourth consecutive elimination game and collected the biggest victory in program history on Sunday afternoon by beating Western New England 12-3 to capture the 2013 Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) baseball title. With the victory, Endicott wins their first conference championship since 2006 and unseats a Golden Bears team that has won all five of the CCC baseball tournaments since they joined the conference in 2008, including eliminating Endicott from the event in each of the last three seasons.

Endicott also earns the automatic bid to the NCAA New England Division III Regional tournament, which begins May 15th in Harwich, Mass. In addition, CCC Coach of the Year Bryan Haley earns his first conference tournament crown in his sixth year with the Gulls program.

After a defeat in their first tournament game, the Gulls (32-12) could not afford a misstep, and were perfect through the next three days of play, culminating in two Sunday victories – first over #3 Salve Regina and then against top-seeded Western New England (31-11) in the championship game at Trelease Park.

In a game that the Golden Bears twice re-tied after Endicott had taken a lead, the Gulls continued to battle and broke out their bats in the middle innings, scoring nine runs over the sixth, seventh and eighth frames. At the end of the day, the Blue and Green had pounded 19 hits and blasted two home runs.

Catcher EJ Martinez (Brooklyn, N.Y.) drove in four runs on the afternoon and scored twice, going 3-for-4 in the game. Tad Gold (Martha's Vineyard, Mass.) had four hits and scored three times, while Colin Sitarz (West Hartford, Conn.) and Cody Hall (Rutland, Mass.) each went deep and combined for five hits and three runs batted in.

Freshman third baseman Matthew Paola (Middlebury, Conn.) had two hits and knocked a two-run single through the right side in the top of the first that scored the right side of Endicott's infield in Brett Holmgren (Middleboro, Mass.) and Harry Oringer (Dartmouth, Mass.).

It didn't take long for Western New England to tie the game, as first baseman Steve Buckley (Monroe, Conn.) connected on a two-run home run to left field in bottom of the inning, which scored third baseman Mike Rubino (Northford, Conn.).

Designated hitter Eric Lemke (Southington, Conn.) put the Gulls back on top in the top of the fourth with a single to center that scored Paola, but the Golden Bears tied the game again in the bottom of the fifth, this time on a single up the middle by Tim Clark (West Springfield, Mass.) that plated center fielder Jeff Schult (Wappingers Falls, N.Y.), who had walked.

Martinez began his big day with an RBI single in the top of sixth to score Gold, who also stole two bases in the game.

Right fielder Connor Ressel (Rockport, Mass.) added an RBI sacrifice fly to left that brought home Eric Lemke (Southington, Conn.) and sophomore second baseman Harry Oringer (Dartmouth, Mass.) added an RBI single through the left side that enabled Martinez to score from second base.  

In the top of the seventh, it was Martinez up again with runners on base and he delivered a two-run double to right center that was the spark plug for a four-run inning.

The Golden Bears went to their bullpen and Hall blasted the first pitch he saw from new pitcher Brendan Nugent (Milford, Conn.) for a two-run homer to left field.

In the top of the eighth, graduate student Colin Sitarz (West Hartford, Conn.) helped the Gulls add another run with a home run of his own to deep left field, his third round-tripper of the season. Martinez finished his superb day with another single up the middle that brought around Gold, who had doubled down the left field line.

For the second consecutive day in the tournament, senior pitcher Brendan Pittsley (Plympton, Mass.) earned the victory, improving his unblemished record to 6-0. Pittsley pitched an inning and a third and gave up just one hit and one earned run.

Kevin Dupras (Belchertown, Mass.) tossed four innings of shutout relief and earned his seventh save of the season. Dupras allowed just three hits and struck out two batters in sealing the championship victory.

The Gulls got three and two-thirds inning from starter Mike Nich (Orange, Conn.), who kept the game close by giving up just the blast by Buckley.

Western New England starter Mike Lospinuso (West Islip, N.Y.) was tagged with the loss, allowing six earned runs over five innings. Lospinuso gave up eight hits and walked three batters without collecting a strikeout.

Batters two through nine each collected one hit in the game for the Golden Bears, and each of them was a single, aside from the Buckley home run.

The Gulls will have to wait until a week from today until the NCAA tournament field is announced. They will be making the program's fifth all-time appearance in the NCAA tournament, with the Gulls collecting their only victory in the event in 2004.