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April 14, 2013

Schlitter one-hits Quinnipiac in opener; Bulldogs rally in eighth to sweep

SCHLITTER'S GEM, BIG EIGHTH LEAD BULLDOG SWEEP OF QUINNIPIAC

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Junior right-hander Craig Schlitter (Guilford, Conn.) tossed a one-hit shutout to lead the Bryant University baseball team to a 4-0 victory over Quinnipiac in game one of their doubleheader on Sunday afternoon at Conaty Park. The Bulldogs then scored seven runs in the eighth inning to complete the weekend sweep of the Bobcats.

The Bulldogs' (23-9-1, 12-0 NEC) sweep of the Bobcats (10-20, 5-11) is the third in the series between the two schools. Bryant's nations-best winning streak now sits at 18 and its home winning streak sits at 16 dating back to last season.

GAME ONE

Schlitter was the story on Sunday, however, as he worked 6.1 hitless innings before Vincent Guglietti doubled in the seventh inning. He didn't budge, retiring the next two batters on ground outs to complete his second career complete game shutout. In blanking the Bobcats, Schlitter allowed just three baserunners, struck out four and needed just 94 pitches. He retired the first six batters before issuing a leadoff walk in the third. Schlitter left that runner stranded on third and then didn't allow another runner until an error put Scott Donaghue on to leadoff the fifth. He erased Donaghue two batters later by inducing an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. Schlitter's performance matched his one-hit mastery of Central Connecticut last year.

Bryant looked like it would get on the board early but it left the bases loaded in the first and stranded two more in the second. It wasn't until the third that the Bulldogs finally broke through against Quinnipiac starter Nick Fabrizio. Senior Kevin Brown (Northborough, Mass.) led off the inning with a double to the base of the right field wall and sophomore John Mullen (Walpole, Mass.) singled to left to put runners on the corners. After a fielder's choice cut down Brown at home, senior Dan Muscatello (Hopkinton, Mass.) continued his torrid stretch at the plate with a two-run double to wall in right-center. Junior Tom Gavitt (North Stonington, Conn.) followed with a single to put runners on the corners and freshman Robby Rinn (Warwick, R.I.) scored both with a single through a drawn-in infield.

Brown finished the afternoon a perfect 4-for-4 with two doubles and two stolen bases. Rinn also had a career day, collecting a career-high three hits and a career-high two RBI. Muscatello's two-run double extended his career-long hitting streak to 10 games.

GAME TWO

Trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth in game two, the Bulldogs rallied for seven runs to complete the four-game sweep with a 10-5 victory.

Sophomore Daniel St. George (Shelton, Conn.) started the rally with a leadoff single to right field, Gavitt was hit by a pitch and senior Adam Claire (Litchfield, Conn.) turned a sac bunt into an infield single to load the bases with no outs. Sophomore Jordan Mountford (Guelph, Ont.) and freshman AJ Zarozny (Shrewsbury, Mass.) were both hit by a pitch to force in two runs and tie the game at 5-5. Brown followed with a bases-loaded walk to make it 6-5 before a wild pitch and an infield ground out put the Bulldogs ahead by three. Muscatello followed with an RBI doubled down the right field line and St. George capped the scoring with an RBI single up the middle.

Bryant's seven-run rally was just half of a wacky eighth inning. The Bulldogs appeared to be headed for a crisp sweep of the Bobcats but a sloppy eighth made things interesting. Reliever Kyle Wilcox (Sandy Hook, Conn.) hit the first batter and walked the second batter of the eighth before redshirt junior Vaughn Hayward (Glendale, R.I.) was summoned from the bullpen. A wild pitch put both runners in scoring position and Donaghue gave Quinnipiac a 4-3 lead with a two-run double inside the bag at third. The Bulldogs then called on junior Jonathan Cohen (Norwalk, Conn.) and he was able to get back-to-back ground balls to record the first two outs of the inning. A third run scored, however, on an infield error before Cohen struck out Mike Palladino looking to end the inning. The Bobcats scored their three runs on just one hit.

Prior to that, the story was sophomore starter Kevin McAvoy (Syracuse, N.Y.). A week after lasting just 2.1 innings against Siena, McAvoy had his best performance of the season on Sunday against the Bobcats. Following a two-out single by Forrest Dwyer in the second, McAvoy went on to retire the next 12 Bobcats in order before he hit Palladino with two outs in the sixth. It started a rally for Quinnipiac as Guglietti scored him with a single to make it 2-1. McAvoy escaped further damage by inducing a fly ball to center but then a two-out infield error victimized him in the seventh, allowing a run to score. He bore down once again, though, striking out Palladino swinging to strand the tying run on third. McAvoy allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits, didn't walk a batter and struck out three over a season-high seven innings.

The Bulldogs built their lead with single runs in the first, second and sixth. In the first, Mountford reached on an error to start the game, stole second, went to third on a passed ball and scored on an RBI ground out by Brown. In the second, sophomore Carl Anderson (Sudbury, Mass.) used his speed to produce a run. He beat out a ground ball to short, stole second and third and then scored on a St. George sac fly to right. In the sixth, freshman Daniel Palazzo (Rocky Hill, Conn.) came through big with a two-out, pinch-hit RBI single up the middle to score Muscatello from second. It was his first career RBI.

Bryant's fourth pitcher of the game, Cohen earned his first win of the season and has now recorded six-straight scoreless innings. Brown finished 2-for-3 with two RBI, completing an afternoon in which he went 6-for-7 with two walks. Anderson, Muscatello and St. George all had two hits, and St. George added a pair of RBI.

The Bulldogs will now hit the road for five games, beginning with a trip to Long Island to face Stony Brook on Tuesday, April 16.

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