The second day of the NCAA Division III New England Regional concluded with an exciting late-inning contest as No. 3 Endicott College defeated No. 2 Wheaton College, 3-2, in 10 innings.
HARWICH, Mass. – Endicott College graduate student Colin Sitarz (West Hartford, Conn./Hall) laced an RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the tenth inning to lift the Gulls to a 3-2 walk-off victory over second-seeded Wheaton College, ranked no.15 overall in the latest D3baseball.com national poll, on day two of the NCAA Division III New England Regional double elimination tournament on Thursday night at Whitehouse Field.
The Lyons (31-11) will take on eighth-seeded Daniel Webster tomorrow at 1 p.m. in a winner-take-all game at Whitehouse Field. Third-seeded Endicott (34-12) plays first-seeded Southern Maine tomorrow at 4:30 p.m.
Gulls freshman reliever Mike Walkowicz (Amherst, Mass./Amherst) earned the win on one-and-two-thirds innings pitched, one hit and one walk. Endicott starter Mike Nich (Orange, Conn./Amity) picked up the no-decision over three innings of work, six hits and two runs (both earned).
Wheaton freshman Eric Dumas (Brookline, Mass./Brookline) suffered the loss over one inning of work, two hits, one run (earned), one walk and one strikeout. Junior Alec Palioca (Wrentham, Mass./King Philip Regional)was handed the no-decision on seven-and-two-thirds innings pitched, six hits, two runs (one earned), five walks and a career-high 11 strikeouts.
With one out in the bottom of the tenth, sophomore Harry Oringer (Dartmouth, Mass./Coyle Cassidy)notched an infield single to second base to jump start Endicott’s rally. Senior Brett Holmgren (Middleboro, Mass./Coyle Cassidy) worked a walk on five pitches seeing three-straight balls to start the plate appearance. Sitarz followed with the game-winning hit, ripping a single up the middle on a 1-1 pitch.
Walkowicz escaped a bases loaded, two out-jam with a ground out to second base in the top of the tenth inning to allow the Gulls a chance for the walk-off win.
Wheaton took a 1-0 advantage in the third as senior shortstop Eric Jensen (Gorham, N.H./Gorham) knocked in classmate Justin Connor (Arlington, Mass./Arlington) with a single through the right side of the infield. Sophomore Apolinar De la Cruz (Providence, R.I./Classical) made it 2-0 with a sac fly to left field, scoring Jensen.
Connor led off the inning with a double down the right field line and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt from freshman Matt Lavanchy (Walpole, Mass./Walpole). After Jensen singled Connor home, he proceeded to steal second base and advanced to third on a base knock to center field off the bat of senior Sean Ryan (Norton, Mass./Norton). De la Cruz followed and was robbed of an extra-base hit as Sitarz made a diving catch in the left field gap only allowing Wheaton to score one run on the sac fly.
Endicott evened the score at 2-2 in the bottom half of the inning on a fielding error and an RBI single to left field by Holmgren. Palioca escaped any further damage with the Gulls having base runners on first and second with his sixth strikeout at the time.
In the seventh, Wheaton nearly scored the go-ahead run with runners on second and third base, but De la Cruz was gunned down at home on an inning-ending double play (1-3-2).
Palioca stymied the Endicott offense in the next half inning recording his tenth career pickoff to head back into the dugout after freshman Cody Hall (Rutland, Mass./Wachusett Regional) singled with one out earlier in the frame. Palioca’s tenth career pickoff moved him into first place all-time in the category breaking a tie at the top of the list with teammate Frank Holbrook (Middletown, R.I./Portsmouth Abbey School).
Hall robbed the Lyons of another potential go-ahead run in the ninth making a diving catch on a liner from De la Cruz to turn a 6-4 inning-ending double play with runners at first and second.
Sophomore Mike Bisceglia (New Boston, N.H./Goffstown) and Dumas combined for three outs in the bottom half of the ninth to force extra innings. Bisceglia induced one fly out while Dumas registered a fly out to left and a ground out to third.
Wheaton falls to 12-5 overall against Endicott in the all-time series. The Gulls have won two-straight versus the Lyons claiming a 5-3 victory on April 24, 2012 in the last meeting. Wheaton is now 3-2 overall in extra innings in postseason play and 2-2 at Whitehouse Field.