Splitting hairs

Bryant baseball splits doubleheader, series at Virginia Tech with 5-2 win Saturday

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – With two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the seventh, sophomore Adam Claire (Litchfield, Conn.) broke up a tie game with an RBI single and the bullpen took care of the rest as the Bryant University baseball team topped Virginia Tech, 5-2, in the second game of a doubleheader to gain a split Saturday at English Field.

Bryant (5-5) and Virginia Tech (9-4) also split in Friday's doubleheader, with the Bulldogs taking the opening game 3-2, as the two clubs each claimed a pair in the four-game set.    

Freshman Craig Schlitter (Guilford, Conn.) took the mound for the Bulldogs and allowed two earned runs in 4.1 innings with three strikeouts. Bryant's bullpen was impressive in the victory as a trio of relievers held the Hokies scoreless over the course of 4.2 innings. Senior John Michael Ryan (Worcester, Mass.) came in for 1.2 innings to pick up the win while Dan Walsh (Burlington, Mass.) worked 1.1 innings of relief with a pair of strikeouts. For the second time in as many days, senior Mark Andrews (Hillsborough, N.J.) closed the final five outs of the contest for his third save of the season.

Bryant struck first in the top of the fourth as David Soltis (Plainville, Conn.), who reached on a walk and worked his way around the bases, scored from third on a throwing error for the 1-0 advantage.

The Hokies responded with a pair of runs in the fifth on back-to-back RBI doubles from Tim Smalling and Ronnie Shaban to put the home side on top, 2-1, but the visitors evened up the score in the sixth on a two-out RBI double from Jamie Skagerlind (Holden, Mass.).

Bryant's big offensive inning came in the seventh as Joseph Carcone (New Hartford, N.Y.) and Tim Norton (Barnstable, Mass.) led off the frame with consecutive walks. The Hokie pitching staff managed to punch out the next two batters but Soltis drew another walk to load the bases, setting the table for Claire, who knocked in two on a go-ahead single. The Bulldogs added one more in the inning as Soltis stole home for the 5-2 lead and eventual victory.     

Norton went 3-for-7 on the day including a two-hit performance in the second game while sophomore Kevin Brown (Northborough, Mass.) went 2-for-4 at the plate in the opener.

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In the first game, Virginia Tech exploded for 12 hits while the visitors managed just five of their own as the home side cruised to a 15-0 shutout victory.

Many Martir (1-0) picked up the win for the Hokies after coming in for 4.0 innings of scoreless relief work while junior Brian O'Neil (North Reading, Mass.) (1-2) took the loss for the Bulldogs.

The home side led off the contest with six runs in the opening frame and added another in the third before an eight-run output in the fourth secured the win. Smalling and Shaban both drove in three runs for the Hokies while Tony Balesteri went 3-for-6 at the plate.

The Black and Gold complete their spring break trip with a pair of games at West Virginia, starting on Tuesday, March 8 when they take on the Mountaineers at 3:00 p.m.  

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