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Western New England College stuns Endicott to reach TCCC Tournament championship game

Western New England College stuns Endicott to reach TCCC Tournament championship game
Box Score (Game 1)

Box Score (Game 2)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Western New England College is heading back to the championship game of The Commonwealth Coast Conference (TCCC) Baseball Tournament.

Senior shortstop Justin Walz (Groton, CT) singled home the winning home with two outs to cap a five-run ninth inning as the second-seeded Golden Bears stunned third-seeded Endicott 15-14 in the second game of a doubleheader Saturday (May 1) at Trelease Park.

WNEC forced the second contest by downing Gulls 12-7 in the opener.

Western New England College (32-9) will host fifth-seeded Salve Regina at 1:00 p.m. Sunday (May 2)  for the conference crown and a trip to the NCAA Division III Championship. The two-time defending champion Golden Bears have won four consecutive games in the tournament after dropping its opening contest against Anna Maria on Tuesday.

WNEC and Endicott combined for 48 runs and 67 hits in the twin bill as the hitters took advantage of perfect summer-like conditions (85 degrees).

Both teams had big leads in the second game with Endicott taking a 6-1 advantage in the fourth before Western New England College tallied five runs in the bottom of the inning to tie the contest.

The Golden Bears scored a pair of runs in both the fifth and sixth innings for a 10-6 lead before the Gulls sent 12 batters to the plate in the eighth to score seven runs for a 13-10 lead. Senior left fielder Aaron Santos (Cambridge, MA) (3-for-5, 5 RBI) hit his second homer of the game in the ninth to give the visitors a four-run margin.

Like they've done many times this season, WNEC came back with a big inning using a two-run single by freshman second baseman Mike Rubino (Northford, CT), and RBI singles by junior left fielder Andrew Fatse (Hamden, CT) and junior designated hitter Ryan Dudzinski (Bristol, CT) to set the stage for Walz who finished with three hits.

Rubino and sophomore right fielder Tom Bouvier (East Longmeadow, MA) each had four of the team's 21 hits. Rubino (who scored four runs with three runs-batted-in) and junior catcher Jason Leclerc (Chicopee, MA) each homered.

Senior first baseman Joe Griglun (Southington, CT) singled twice to become the school's single season leader in hits (71).

Junior Zach Cloft (Glastonbury, CT) pitched 1 1/3 innings to gain his fourth win of the season without a loss.

Endicott sophomore right fielder Colin Sitarz (West Hartford, CT) and freshman second baseman Eric Lemke (Southington, CT) each banged out three hits.

Seven players from each squad had multi-hit performances.

In the opener, Western New England College scored four runs in both the first and second innings and took a 12-2 lead into the ninth before the Gulls scored five times.

Dudzinski led the way with three hits (including a homer), four runs, two RBI, and his 27th stolen base of the season. Griglun and Fatse also contributed three hits. Senior Matt Rogers (Portsmouth, RI) went 8 2/3 innings in raising his record to 9-1.

For Endicott, Lemke and sophomore center fielder Mike Russo (Natick, MA) each compiled three hits while Sitarz slugged a homer. Sophomore Benjamin Petrides (Belchertown, MA) took the loss.

The Gulls have a 27-15 record and could be invited to the ECAC Division III New England Tournament.