KELICH SETS PROGRAM RECORD FOR WINS, MOUNTFORD CAPS BIG RALLY
SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Sophomore John Mullen's (Walpole, Mass.) two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the eighth gave the Bryant University baseball team a 3-2 victory over Siena and senior right-hander Peter Kelich (Jackson, N.J.) his program-record 27th career victory on Saturday afternoon at Conaty Park in game one of a doubleheader. Sophomore Jordan Mountford's (Guelph, Ont.) two-run walk-off home run capped the Bulldogs' second comeback victory of the day and a sweep of the Saints.
With the wins, the Bulldogs (17-9-1) have now won 12-straight games and their first two over the Saints (8-20) in five tries. Bryant's current winning streak is the longest in the Division I era.
One of the best pitchers to toe the rubber for the Black and Gold, Kelich permanently etched his name in the all-time record books by winning his 27th career game. He entered the afternoon tied with Mike Florest for the record. Kelich allowed two runs on six hits and tied a career high with 10 strikeouts over eight innings. Classmate Salvatore Lisanti (Bronx, N.Y.) earned his fourth save by stranding the tying run on third base in the ninth.
After being touched for a run in the first, Kelich began to dominate. He struck out Mike Allen to end the first and start a string of 10-straight hitters retired. Kelich struck out two in the second and two more in the fourth before issuing a leadoff walk in the fifth. He stranded runners on first and second in the inning but was victimized by a pair of doubles in the sixth. Fay's one-out double to right scored Mike Fish to give Siena a 2-1 lead. Kelich regrouped and struck out Kyle Baldani to end the inning. The strikeout was his 225th career strikeout, the most for a hurler in program history.
Even with Kelich's outstanding start, the Bulldogs still found themselves down by a run entering the eighth inning. With Kelich still in line for the victory, the Black and Gold went to work on getting him the lead. Sophomore Matt Zanotta (Schenectady, N.Y.) worked a leadoff walk but was forced out at second on a bunt. Freshman AJ Zarozny (Shrewsbury, Mass.) then singled to left to put two on. Siena starter Matt Gage got a pop up to short for the second out then got a head of Mullen. He missed his spot, though, and Mullen drilled a one-hopper off the center field fence to score two runs and give Bryant the lead.
The Saints wasted little time getting on the board as they scored in the first inning. Andres Ortiz drew a one-out walk and went to third on a Mike Fish single. Kelich struck out the next batter but Brian Fay hit a flare to shallow center that fell in for an RBI single.
Bryant would tie the game in the second inning. Mullen singled to start the inning and advanced to second on a passed ball. He moved to third on a sac bunt and senior Dan Muscatello (Hopkinton, Mass.) scored him with a clutch two-out single up the middle.
Gage was stellar after that though. The left-hander went all eight innings and struck out eight for the Saints. The only hits he allowed following the second were Muscatello singles in the fifth and the seventh. That was until the Bulldogs touched him for two runs on three hits in the eighth.
Muscatello finished with three hits for the second-straight game and Mullen finished with two hits and two RBI.
In game two, Mountford's seventh-inning heroics provided the Bulldogs their second comeback victory of the afternoon. Down by a run, 9-8, heading into the seventh inning, the Bulldogs began their rally with a pinch-hit single from sophomore Daniel St. George (Shelton, Conn.). A sac bunt moved him to second and freshman Robby Rinn (Warwick, R.I.) followed with a clutch game-tying pinch-hit single to left. That brought Mountford to the plate and the big lefty demolished the 1-1 offering from Siena closer Neil Fryer over the right-center field wall for a walk-off two-run home run.
Trailing 8-0 in the fourth, the Bulldogs erased their deficit with eight runs on five hits. With one out, Muscatello singled and freshman Dan Cellucci (Sudbury, Mass.) walked to put two runners on. Zanotta and junior Jonathan Scott (Princeton, N.J.) then followed with RBI singles on consecutive pitches to make it 8-2. Zarozny was then hit by a pitch to load the bases and Kevin Brown's (Northborough, Mass.) ground ball to second was bobbled, allowing a third run to score. The inning appeared to be over again as Mullen struck out swinging but the ball got away from the catcher and everyone was safe. The Bulldogs made it hurt as sophomore Carl Anderson (Sudbury, Mass.) knocked a two-run single up the middle and Muscatello drilled a two-run single to right-center to tie the game at 8-8.
Siena jumped out to an 8-0 lead with two runs in the first and six runs in the third. In the first, a leadoff walk to John Rooney came back to haunt Bryant starter Kevin McAvoy (Syracuse, N.Y.) as Larry Balkwill singled him home with two outs. Mike Allen made it 2-0 with an RBI double. In the third, three singles loaded the bases with one out and a walk and wild pitch plated two runs to make it 4-0. An infield error allowed the fifth run to score, a walk scored the sixth and the final two runs of the inning scored on a Rooney single to left.
The Saints scored what appeared to be the winning run in the top of the sixth inning. Fish singled, stole second and then came all the way around to score on a ground ball to short that Balkwill beat out.
Sophomore Trevor Lacosse (Watervliet, N.Y.) earned his first-career victory on the afternoon. The fourth Bulldog pitcher of the afternoon, Lacosse allowed one run on three hits over two innings of relief. Redshirt junior Vaughn Hayward (Glendale, R.I.) allowed a run (unearned) on one hit and struck out three over 1.2 innings of relief. Junior Jonathan Cohen (Norwalk, Conn.) worked a scoreless fifth inning.
Offensively, Mountford, Mullen and Muscatello all picked up two hits. Mountford, Anderson and Muscatello all drove in two runs and every player in the lineup scored a run.
The Bulldogs and Saints wrap up their three-game series with a single nine-inning game on Sunday beginning at noon.