PAIR OF HOME RUNS VAULT THIRD-SEEDED FRANKLIN PIERCE TO 10-9 VICTORY OVER TOP-SEEDED BRYANT SATURDAY AFTERNOON; BULLDOGS TO PLAY NO. 2 SOUTHERN CONNECTICUT AT 7 P.M. TONIGHT IN WIN-OR-GO-HOME MATCHUP

May 10, 2008

NORTHEAST-10 CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT

PAIR OF HOME RUNS VAULT THIRD-SEEDED FRANKLIN PIERCE TO 10-9 VICTORY OVER TOP-SEEDED BRYANT SATURDAY AFTERNOON; BULLDOGS TO PLAY NO. 2 SOUTHERN CONNECTICUT AT 7 P.M. TONIGHT IN WIN-OR-GO-HOME MATCHUP

Boxscore

Second baseman Dave
Muscatello notched leadoff
hits in the fifth, sixth and
eighth to go 3-for-5 with an
RBI and two runs scored
despite Bryant's 10-9 loss.

RINDGE, NH - The recently dormant bats of the top-seeded Bulldogs came alive again in Saturday's Northeast-10 Conference Tournament matchup against third-seeded Franklin Pierce University, but Bryant University's 14 hits wouldn't be enough to overcome a pair of big innings for the Ravens, who took the 10-9 victory at Pappas Field.

A pair of triples complimented home runs in the fourth and ninth to highlight Franklin Pierce's (38-12) 13-hit afternoon, with Matt Anderson's final-frame solo shot proving to be the game-winner.

But for the second-straight game, it was Bryant (39-18) that got the scoring going in Saturday's loss.

Sophomores Dylan Stone (Portsmouth, RI) and Nick Campbell (Raynham, Mass.) put two on with one out via back-to-back singles for cleanup hitter Pat O'Connor (Mattapoisett, Mass.) in the bottom half of the first. O'Connor got in the way of a pitch to load the bases for catcher Jeff Vigurs (South Windor, Conn.). Vigurs ripped a Kyle Vazquez offering back at the mound, sending the hurler to the dirt and an RBI single into centerfield.

With the bases still juiced, shortstop Pat McKenna (Orange, Conn.) - the hero of Friday's 4-3 win over Pace University thanks to a two-run homer - hit into a fielder's choice that put Vigurs out at second. But when the Ravens tried to turn the double play back to first, O'Connor came home to give Bryant the 3-0 lead at the end of the first.

A one-out walk followed by a turf-aided triple allowed third-seeded Franklin Pierce to get one back in the top of the second, when a Steve Carr would-be single took a high hop over the head of Campbell and rolled back to the fence in dead center. But rookie hurler David O'Brien (Whitman, Mass.) got Cliff Hicks to pop out before getting his only strikeout of his short outing from Matt Skeffington to get out of the frame and strand Carr on third.

In the top of the third, a Bryant error allowed the inning's leadoff hitter Jake Christman to cross the plate, leaving runners on the corners to cut the Bulldogs' lead to 3-2.

O'Brien issued a free pass to Scott Savastano to load the bases with no outs in the frame, and a single into right field brought the tying run home for the host Ravens. The inning continued, as a wild pitch that got past Vigurs gave Franklin Pierce the lead, 4-3. O'Brien re-loaded the bases with a walk to the next batter, still with no outs in the frame.

That would be the end of the day for the hurler, who handed the ball off to freshman reliever John Michael Ryan (Worcester, Mass.).

Ryan got outs from the next three batters, but not before another wild pitch - the same pitch that got Hicks to strike out swinging for second out - handed the Ravens their fourth run of the inning for the 5-3 lead.

Franklin Pierce's Kevin Rivers upped the host's lead to 8-3 with a three-run homer in the fourth, and the Ravens got one more in the fifth to take a 9-3 lead into the bottom of the frame.

But in their half of the fifth, the Bulldogs started to chip away at the Ravens' lead.

Second baseman Dave Muscatello (Hopkinton, Mass.) opened up the half-inning with a single to right, to be moved to second with a hit up the middle off the bat of Stone. Campbell was hit by a Vazquez pitch to load the bases with the cleanup spot coming to the plate.

And with one out, O'Connor came through, knocking a two-run double just fair down the right field line to score Muscatello and Stone. Campbell would come home one batter later, when Vigurs took an RBI-single into shallow right to cut the deficit to 9-6 and chase the Franklin Pierce starter from the hill.

Alex Szymanski took over, walking McKenna and loading the bases with one out and the go-ahead run at the plate. But the Raven reliever would get the next two outs to strand three and keep the 9-6 lead.

Right fielder Taylor Ferguson (Charlton, Mass.) got the Bulldogs' deficit down to two in the seventh, looping a single into right to score McKenna, who reached first on an error by Savastano and moved to second on a balk.

And in the bottom of the eighth, Bryant threatened again, with Muscatello getting his third-straight hit leading off an inning. Muscatello took second on an error by the right fielder and moved to third on an infield hit beat out by Stone.

Franklin Pierce brought in closer Tyler Bishop to relieve Szymanski, and a sac fly from Campbell brought the Bulldogs within one, 9-8, before moving to the final frame.

But in the top of the ninth, Matt Anderson took a 2-1 offering from lefty Mark Andrews (Hillsborough, NJ) yard to get the run back, 10-8.

With three outs of life remaining, the Bulldogs sent the second half of the order to face Bishop. A grounder to short put one out on the board, while back-to-back hits from McKenna and Ferguson followed by a walk to designated hitter Mark Dondero (Medfield, Mass.) loaded the bases for Muscatello.

The nine-hole hitter brought McKenna home with a groundout to second, moving the winning run to second and the tying tally just 90 feet away.

But Bishop was able to hang on for the save, getting Jason Alexander (Simsbury, Conn.) to strikeout for a 10-9 final.

The loss is Bryant's first of the conference tournament and moves the Bulldogs into tonight's win-or-go-home matchup against second-seeded Southern Connecticut. The Owls face their second elimination game of the day after beating Pace, 6-1, in Saturday's early contest.

O'Brien (6-1) took his first loss of the season Saturday, going just two innings and giving up five runs (four earned) on four hits with one strikeout. Szymanski earned the win for Franklin Pierce, moving to 1-0 on the season in a three-frame effort, allowing two runs (none earned) and five hits, fanning a pair. Bishop got his eighth save in 1.2 innings of work.

Stone led Bryant with a 4-for-5, two-run day, while Muscatello went 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored.

Check back to www.bryantbulldogs.com for updates of Saturday's must-win Game Two, to begin at 7 p.m.

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