By Matt Williams
---- — For the second time in as many days, the Endicott baseball team won an NCAA tournament game in a walkoff fashion.
In the tenth inning last night, Colin Sitarz singled home Harry Oringer as the Gulls beat Wheaton, 3-2, to advance to the winner’s bracket final of the NCAA Division 3 New England Regional being played in Harwich.
Endicott (34-12) will play Southern Maine this afternoon and would automatically advance to the final with a win. A loss wound send the Gulls to the loser’s bracket final, where they’d need to beat whoever survives tomorrow and then defeat Southern Maine twice to win the region.
Mike Walkowicz got out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the tenth to send Endicott back to the dish with the opportunity to win. Brett Holmgren also had an RBI for Endicott, which trailed 2-0 in the third but scored twice in the bottom of the inning to knot the score.
For the second time at the NCAA Regionals, Salem State rallied in their last at-bat only to see their opponent nail down a save. Trailing 7-3 entering the top of the ninth, the Vikes Steve Buitkus and Kevin Salines had hits to put the pressure on St. Joe’s.
Brett Cahill reached on an error to score a run and Richard Fecteau followed with an RBI double as Salem brought the go-ahead run to the plate. The rally came with two outs, however, and Matt Burgess popped out to end the game.
Salem State fell behind 2-0 in the first but starter Sean Buckland recovered nicely, throwing 7 1/3 innings, striking out four and conceding just three runs. Burgess had an RBI double to halve the deficit at 2-1 in the fourth and tied it on Cahill’s RBI in the fifth, but the Monks responded by scoring two in the bottom half to re-take the lead.
St. Joe’s then added what turned out to be three crucial insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth.
Buitkus, Burgess and Salines each had two hits for Salem State, which wraps up its first season under coach Mike Ward 25-15. Salem State earned its first NCAA tournament berth since 2006 by winning the MASCAC title.