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Baseball rallies in the ninth to win home opener

LEWISTON, Maine -- Junior Kevin Davis singled through the right side with the bases loaded and no one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, delivering the Bates baseball team a 5-4 non-conference victory over Endicott in the Bobcats' home opener at Leahey Field on Thursday.

Endicott (10-8) had fought back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game 3-3 in the eighth, and the Gulls seized their first lead with another run in the top of the ninth.

Bates (8-5) used eight pitchers in the win, including five freshmen, and collected 11 hits against four Endicott pitchers. Senior Mike Antonellis (Sudbury, Mass.; 1-2) got the final two outs in the top of the ninth to earn the victory.

After throwing a scoreless eighth inning for Endicott, Connor McLaughlin (1-2) ran into trouble in the ninth and was tagged with the loss.

First-year Samuel Warren (Norfolk, Va.) led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk. Sophomore Mekae Hyde (Lewiston, Maine) followed with a grounder to Endicott shortstop Matthew Paola's right; Paola made a difficult stab to corral the ball, but Warren his off-balance throw to second base, which may not have been in time to get Warren, was dropped by the second baseman.

Senior Ryan Sonberg (Windsor, Conn.) came up and laid down a bunt that died in the dirt just inside the third-base line. Endicott catcher Robert Goldstick retrieved the ball several feet up the line and tried to throw out Sonberg at first, but his errant throw allowed all three Bates runners an extra base, and Warren scored the tying run from second.

McLaughlin intentionally walked junior Griff Tewksbury (Concord, N.H.) to load the bases for the Bobcats and to face Davis (North Andover, Mass.), who was 0-for-4 at the time. The lefthanded hitting third baseman roped a line drive into right field, scoring Hyde with the game-ending run.

Bates' first three pitchers -- first-year Chris Ward (Pasadena, Calif.), first-year Sam Falkson (Barnstable, Mass.) and sophomore Dillon Dresser (Falmouth, Maine) -- held Endicott scoreless through the first four innings, while the Bobcats went up 3-0 with a run in the second and two more in the fourth, all three of them driven in by sophomore outfielder Nate Pajka (Douglas, Mass.). In the second, right after Endicott's Tad Gold was tagged with the final out of the Gulls' second inning, trying to steal home plate, junior Steve Burke (Bedford, N.H.) hit a leadoff single off of Endicott starter Brendan Pittsley. Burke moved to second on one of senior Kevin McGregor's (Randolph, N.J.) three walks, on to third on sophomore Alex Parker's (Lewiston, Maine) sac bunt, and then scored on Tewksbury's single to left field.

Bates made it 3-0 in the fourth, when Burke again reached base to lead off, this time on a walk. McGregor also walked again, bringing up Parker in another sac bunt situation. Pittsley fielded Parker's bunt and got the leader runner Burke out at third, bringing up Pajka, who drove a Pittsley offering into the gap in left center, scoring McGregor and Parker.

Dresser came on to start the fifth for Bates, but was lifted in favor of first-year Mark Cunningham (Canton, Mass.) after giving up Eric Lemke's leadoff single up the middle. Goldstick's sac bunt moved Lemke to second, and Cunningham then issued two straight walks to load the bases. Harry Oringer's groundout to first scored Lemke with Endicott's first run, closing the gap to 3-1.

Endicott inched a run closer in the sixth, as Gold drew a leadoff walk from Bates sophomore Sam Maliska (Palo Alto, Calif.), then advanced two bases on Maliska's errant pickoff throw. Colin Sitarz's fly ball to left field closed the gap to 3-2.

The Gulls tied it in the eighth, as Brett Holmgren led off and reached on an error, advanced to second on Gold's groundout, after a nice backhanded stab made by Davis at third base, then scored on Sitarz's single to right. Bates first-year pitcher Sam Berry (South Hamilton, Mass.) escaped further damage, inducing a groundout and a fly ball to left, keeping the score at 3-3. But the Gulls reached Berry for the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth. Cody Hall led off the inning with a single to left, then moved to second on a sac bunt by Conor Ressel. Tim Brutto came on to pinch run for Hall, and Oringer plated Brutto when he ripped a ground-ball single that proved too hard for McGregor to handle at first base. Antonellis came on in relief of Berry and issued two walks, but left three Gull runners stranded by inducing pinch hitter Greg Heineman into an inning-ending popout.

Oringer (2-5) and Sitarz (2-3) both drove in two runs for Endicott, and Ressel also had two of the Gulls' eight hits in the game. For Bates, Hyde, Sonberg, Burke and Pajka all had two hits apiece, with Pajka collecting three RBIs, as well as the game's lone extra-base hit.

Pittsley produced a strong start for Endicott in a losing effort, going 6.0 innings and getting nine strikeouts.

Bates begins a crucial NESCAC East Division series against Bowdoin with a nine-inning home game on Friday at 3pm. Endicott hosts conference foe Eastern Nazarene for a Saturday doubleheader at 12pm.

BOX SCORE: Bates 5, Endicott 4