HARWICH, Mass. – Making their second straight appearance in the NCAA Division III New England Regional Championship Game, the #4 seeded Endicott baseball team held an early lead against #2 Southern Maine and got five shutout innings from CCC Pitcher of the Year and NEIBA All-New England First Teamer JJ Branch (Milford, Mass.) before the Huskies offense got to Branch with multiple runs in the sixth and eighth innings. Southern Maine would defeat Endicott 11-1 to capture the 2014 NCAA New England Regional title and have earned a spot in the double-elimination, national championship tournament in Appleton, Wisconsin next week.
The Gulls (34-16) ended their 2014 campaign by repeating as CCC champions and reaching the regional final for the second straight year. For their efforts in Endicott's historic run this past week, senior centerfielder Tad Gold (Martha's Vineyard, Mass.), sophomore shortstop Cody Hall (Rutland, Mass.), and sophomore pitcher Davarn Nova (Wareham, Mass.) were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Gold batted .400 (10-for-25) in five games this week with a .444 on-base percentage and a .480 slugging-percentage in 25 at bats. Two of his 10 hits were doubles while he recorded four RBI, four runs scored, and four stolen bases. Hall led the Gulls with 11 hits and a .458 batting average while playing a perfect shortstop with 30 assists and 10 putouts. He totaled five RBI and four runs on the week. Nova allowed just one earned run in 9 1/3 innings pitched over four appearances as the sophomore sported a 0.96 ERA and a .219 batting average against. He struck out eight batters and allowed 11 base runners via seven hits, three walks, and a hit batter.
In Sunday's regional final, Endicott's first trip the plate in the top of the first started with a leadoff single to left by freshman outfielder Cam Farnham (Andover, Mass.) to extend his hitting streak to 22 games. Huskies starter Logan Carman (Newfields, N.H.) retired the next two batters and Gold at the plate, Farnham swiped second base to get into scoring position. Gold delivered a two-out RBI on a 1-1 offering from Carman with an opposite field single to plate Farnham from second, giving Endicott the 1-0 lead.
Gold would advance on the throw home and stole third to get 90 feet away from second another run in the first inning, but Carman forced a fly out to left to end the threat.
Sunday's NCAA New England Regional Championship turned into a pitching duel as Carman and Branch put zeroes on the board from the second through fifth innings. The two pitchers combined for a 12-pitch, fifth inning as both needed just six tosses apiece to get their respective halves of the frame.
In the top of the sixth, Endicott looked prime to extend their slim one-run advantage as Gold, who made a diving grab in the right centerfield gap in the previous inning, roped a leadoff double to get into scoring position. The next batter, sophomore third baseman Matthew Paola (Middlebury, Conn.), grounded to first base which led to Gold being thrown out at third base on a close play. Southern Maine senior catcher Matt Verrier (Norway, Maine) continued the strong defensive inning for the Huskies by gunning down Paola attempting to steal second base as Carman ended the sixth with a strikeout.
Southern Maine's lineup bats came to life in the bottom of the sixth with one out as sophomore Sam Dexter (Oakland, Maine) and freshman Paul McDonough (Wells, Maine) hit back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second. Senior Forrest Chadwick (Gardiner, Maine) roped a long single to right to tie the game and Verrier followed with an infield single to give the Huskies their first lead of the game. Endicott would escape the jam with a double-play ball but found themselves facing a 2-1 deficit in the regional final.
The Huskies carried their offensive momentum into the bottom of the eighth as Southern Maine put up nine runs to take command of the game and put Endicott in a hole they would not climb out of. Southern Maine produced nine runs on eight hits and two Endicott errors in the inning with the offensive outburst highlighted by a Chadwick three-run homerun to right field to turn a 3-1 lead into a 6-1 lead. Chadwick would finish the game 3-for-5 with four RBI and run scored en route to a spot on the All-Tournament Team.
Southern Maine's Carman was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament after his championship game effort in which he hurled 8 2/3 innings with one earned run allowed on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts. Carman improved to 4-1 with the win.
Branch (8-2) suffered the loss for Endicott despite pitching six solid innings before the Huskies got to him in his seventh inning of work. Seniors Connor McLaughlin (Clinton, Mass.) and Tyler Hill (Las Vegas, Nev.) would combine to finish the bottom of the eighth in their final appearances in the Blue and Green.