BEVERLY, Mass. - In a match-up between two of the best teams in New England, Suffolk baseball hung on for a 5-4 victory over Endicott Wednesday afternoon at the Gulls' North Field.
Suffolk, who is receiving votes in the D3Baseball.com Poll and is ranked fifth in the NEIBA, wins its third straight to improve to 14-4, the Rams' best record 17 games into a season since matching that ledger in 2013. Endicott, who is also receiving nods in the Top 25 and sits second in the NEIBA, has had its last four games determined by one run and fell on the wrong side of this one to slip to 9-6.
After the first eight batters were retired by JJ Branch, BJ Neil drew a walk to be the first Ram to reach base on the windy afternoon. The walk was followed quickly by Suffolk's first hit of the day, Brady Chant let one go to mid-left field to push Neil to third. With runners in the corners and two outs on the board, Rob Marks shattered one, but Mike Kochiss made the throw to Chris Seidl in time to close out the inning and hold the score at 0-0 after 2.5.
Kyle Turner has fallen on the heels of his defense through the first few innings, but opened the third with his first strikeout of the day. The Rams defense picked up the pieces for the next two outs and keep zeros on the scoreboard.
In his second at bat of the day, Seth Coiley led off the fourth inning in style. The sophomore right fielder extended his hit streak to two thanks to a long ball over the left field fence to break open the scoring. Coiley's homer is his second of the season, in as many games and of his collegiate career. Coiley is the first Ram to hit back-to-back home runs since ABCA/Rawlings Second Team All-American Mike Cunningham '13 did so three times in his senior campaign in 2013 with the last coming April 21-22 against Johnson & Wales and Albertus Magnus, respectively.
It did not take long for the Gulls to even the playing field as the home team did so in the bottom half of the inning. Anthony Serina popped up to the hill and a swarm of Rams huddled around with Drew Carter's glove was underneath the ball, but it popped out to give Serina first to lead off the inning. Carter righted the wrong on the next at bat as the senior successfully secured a ground out. When Matthew Paola walked Serina put himself in better scoring position as the senior stole third. Paola made a steal attempt and was caught in a back-and-forth battle. With all eyes between first and second, Serina easily crossed home to even the score at 1-all.
Serina was at the dish with two outs as a double-steal by Endicott put Nick Berno on second and Dan Cacciola, who was pinch running for Josh Drew, on third, respectively. As the count moved to full, the Rams were in dangerous territory. Berno hit a pop-fly to left field and Marks made the diving catch to end the inning.
Endicott put Suffolk against the wall in the bottom of the sixth inning. As Turner walked three to load the bases, the senior right put together back-to-back punchouts to get the Rams out of the inning and keep the score the same.
With the score the same for three straight innings things changed in the top of the eighth. With one out on the board, Marks hit an infield single and advanced to second on an error by Cody Hall. Coiley pushed Marks to third with a ground out to Kochiss and an infield single by Carter brought in his classmate to give Suffolk a 2-1 edge. Carter stole second with Jake Frasca at the plate, but the freshman grounded out to C. Hall to end the inning, but the damage had already been done.
More runs crossed the plate for the Rams in the top of the ninth. With two-outs Chant placed a ball in right center bringing in Belskie and Brenner, who were on third and second, respectively, to give Suffolk a 4-1 lead. Marks followed with a single up the middle to bring Chant home and give the Rams a 5-1 cushion heading into the final inning.
Frasca faced the first two at bats of the bottom half of the inning with Brad Rebello knocking a RBI double to centerfield to cut the Rams' lead to three. Cal Carroll came in as relief with no outs and a Rebello at second. A single from second baseman Michael DeDonato brought up pinch-hitter Michael Casciano, who reached on a fielder's choice that scored Rebello with no outs.
DeDonato crossed the plate when the freshman first baseman Chris Seidl reached base on a throwing error by Carter. The Gulls trailed just 5-4 with one out and the bases loaded thanks to an intentional walk granted to senior right fielder Paola, but a strikeout looking and a fly-out to Coiley in right field ended the threat.
Frasca (2-0) earned the win as he came on to pitch in the seventh inning and gave up three hits, two runs (one earned) and struck out three, while Carrol picked up his fourth save of the season with one run (unearned) on one hit, one walk and two punchouts.
Suffolk is set to open its home schedule tomorrow night as the Rams welcome Newbury to East Boston Memorial Park. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m.