Campus Report: Closing the 2016 Baseball Season

Hockomock Campus Report
Former Oliver Ames star David MacKinnon became the first Hartford player to win America East Player of the Year. (Twitter/@AmericaEast)

Below is an update on former Hockomock League baseball athletes currently competing in collegiate sports. If you would like to submit an update, please e-mail

The long list of accomplishments for Oliver Ames graduate David MacKinnon continues to grow. MacKinnon, who broke Hartford’s hit record as a sophomore year and then broke his own mark again this year, was tabbed as the America East Baseball Player of the Year. MacKinnon becomes the first Hartford player to earn this honor.

An All Conference second team selection for the past two seasons, MacKinnon made it clear he was the top player this season. Entering the America East tournament, he led the conference in hitting (.390) and runs (54). He was fifth in the conference in slugging (.537), second in on-base percentage (.467) third in doubles (15) and eighth in triples (3).

He finished the regular season with 80 hits, smashing his program record of 68 from a year ago. He has already added to that, going 4-5 in Hartford’s opening game in the conference tournament. MacKinnon drove in four runs, including the tying run in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Hawks went on to walk off in the 10th inning. He also had a two-run home run in the game.

MacKinnon wasn’t the only Hockomock representative honored in America East’s conference honors. Another former Hockomock League MVP, Franklin’s Brendan Skidmore, was selected to the America East All Conference Second team at first base. Entering the America East playoffs, he leads Binghamton with nine home runs (third in the conference) and 14 multi-RBI games, hitting .345 in conference play with 39 RBI for the season.

Skidmore and MacKinnon, the two top first basemen in the conference, will face off on Friday as Hartford and Binghamton play at 12:00 noon at LeLacheur Park in Lowell.

A pair of former Hockomock players had their collegiate careers come to a close after successful stints with Bridgewater State. Oliver Ames’ David Holmes had the best record for the Bears’ pitching staff at 5-1, posting a 2.94 ERA and a team-best 38 strikeouts. Holmes limited opponents to a .261 average with just nine walks on the year. Taunton’s Travis Ritchie started and played in all but one game this year, posting a .282 average, good for fifth on the team while being second on the team in hits with 35. Ritchie tied for the team lead in triples and was one of the Bears’ best fielders (.987%) in the outfield. Both Holmes and Ritcher were selected to the MASCAC Second Team.

Sharon graduate Ryan Riley made 11 appearances for Clarkson this season, the second most of any pitcher, with all of them coming in relief situations. Riley posted a 2-1 record in 22 innings of work, striking out 18 and limiting opposing batters to a .250 ERA. Riley posted a 3.97 his freshman year on the bump for the Golden Knights.

Former Milford Scarlet Hawk JJ Branch emerged as Endicott’s go-to pitcher and ace this season. Branch started in a team-high 12 games, pitching 77.2 innings (over 30 more than the next pitcher on the staff) and posted an impressive 7-1 record. Branch had a team-low ERA of 2.43 for starting pitchers and fanned 49 batters, also a team best.

A pair of former Hockomock rivals turned teammates helped Keene State get their most wins since the 2013 season. Foxboro’s Connor Longley had the fourth most at-bats for the Owls during his freshman year, batting .277 with 38 hits and a pair of home runs. Sharon’s Nate Pederson made 10 appearances in relief, throwing 13.2 innings with six strikeouts.

Former North Attleboro standout Justin Gallagher was a valuable asset to Wheaton’s bullpen this year. Gallagher made 13 appearances in total, all in relief, helping the Lyons to another successful season. He posted a 2.08 ERA second on the team by pitchers who made at least 10 appearances. He struck out 11 with just three earned runs allowed this season.

Lesley University’s baseball team posted 19 wins this season and two former Hock players had a lot to do with it. Milford grad Bryan Hildebrand was tied for second on the team with three wins, starting four games and appearing four times in relief. The former Scarlet Hawk walk just nine batters in over 25 innings of work. Former Foxboro Warrior Mike Slaby was the Lynx’s top offensive option, leading the team with a .361 batting average, 44 hits and two triples. He was second on the team with 18 RBI and had a .451 on-base percentage.

Fresh off a terrific senior year at Oliver Ames, Mike Ferrara made an immediate impact at Worcester State during his rookie season. He played in all 39 of the Lancers’ games this season and had 139 at-bats, fourth most on the team. Ferrara batted .281 with 39 total hits, including four doubles and a home run. He had 15 RBI, fifth on the team, and stole four bases.

Connor Johnson has been one of Maine head coach Steve Trimper’s top choices in the bullpen this season. The Taunton alum had made a program-high 19 appearances, all in relief, this season for the Bears. Johnson posted a 4-4 record with a 3.93 ERA, striking out 35 batters in 34.1 innings of work. Johnson is one of a just a few pitchers in the conference to be able to retire MacKinnon in two straight at-bats this season.

MIT baseball claimed the ECAC New England Division III Baseball Championship earlier this month with former Player of the Year Max Lancaster playing the role of catalyst. Lancester, an Attleboro grad, helped spark the Engineers’ eight run seventh inning. Lancaster had a two RBI single down the left field line to score the first two runs of the rally. Lancaster doubled the amount of games he played in this season compared to his freshman campaign. He batted .266 with 23 RBI, 18 runs scored, four stolen bases and three home runs.

Attleboro alum Matt Elliot concluded a strong first season for Anna Maria, finishing third on the team with a .306 batting average. Elliot, who had eight hits in a four game span at the end of the season, finished in the top 30 in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference in batting average, was second on the team in doubles and stolen bases and led the Amcats with three triples.

There are a lot of reasons that Nichols baseball was able to post 24 wins this season but North Attleboro’s Matt Hardy was one of the big ones. Hardy started all 42 of the team’s games and batted a team-best .391 on the year with 11 doubles and 26 runs batted in. Hardy had 63 hits this season and scored 31 runs. While patrolling left field, Hardy had a .938 field percentage and finished the season with 12 straight games without an error.

Former Milford starter Cam Cossette made nine appearances for Plymouth State this season, five of them starts. Cosette struck out 27 in 31.2 innings of work, posting a 2-1 record on the season. Cossette struck a season-best six batters on two occasions, in a big win over Rivier in April and a close lost to Lyndon State in May.

A pair of Franklin Panthers turned Saint Anselm Hawks had strong seasons on the mound. Tyler Buck was unlucky to not get a win in his senior year in 44.1 innings of work. In six starts and eight overall appearances, Buck struck out 18 with a 4.47 ERA and also recorded a save. Zane Byrne made 12 appearances in his rookie season for Saint A’s, all in relief. He tossed 23.1 innings with 16 strikeouts, posting a 4.63 ERA for the year.

The accolades continue to roll in for Sharon alum Jake Fishman. Now starring at Union College, Fishman was recently named to the ABCA/Rawlings NCAA Div. III New York All-Region Team and the All-New York Region Team. He was selected as a First Team Utility player on the ABCA team and was chosen as one of three starting pitchers on the First Team. He batted .361, had 14 RBI and led the team in hits (48) and runs scored (29). On the mound, the Liberty League Player of the Year was 7-0 with a 0.41 ERA. Fishman will be playing with the Wareham Gatemen in the Cape Cod Baseball League this summer.

The University of Rhode Island baseball team is playing in the A-10 semifinal on Friday and two Hockomock alums could be in the mix. Ryan Olmo, a former star at Attleboro High, will likely be patrolling the outfield. So far this season, he’s batted .260 this season with 51 games played. He’s third on the team with 31 RBI and has recorded 12 doubles as well as a home run. Canton’s Sam Larson, a red shirt freshman, has made just one appearance this year. He made the most of it though, throwing two scoreless innings against UConn.

Matt Nunes had a strong bounce back year at Westfield State after being hampered by an injury last year. Nunes tossed 31 innings this year, starting five games and making eight total appearances. He posted a 3-1 record and had a save on the season, striking out a 35 batters – good for second on the team. He held opponents to a .240 batting average over the course of the year.

Two former Hockomock players made their mark on Salve Regina’s very successful season. The Seahawks advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament before concluding their season. Canton’s Jimmy Fitzgerald, a sophomore, made five starts and nine overall appearances. In 33.2 innings, he fanned 37 batters and allowed 10 walks while posting a 3-1 record with a save. Sharon graduate Will Ginsberg made eight appearances with half of them being starts. He went 1-0 with 19.1 innings of work, striking out 17 batters.