SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University baseball team collected 10 hits on its way to a 6-1 victory and a doubleheader split with LIU Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon at Conaty Park. The Blackbirds won the first game, 4-2.
The Bulldogs (27-14-1, 15-4 NEC) will now go for the series victory tomorrow against the Blackbirds (15-26, 11-8).
Bryant had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh inning but Evan Zerff was able to shut the door. Sophomore Carl Anderson (Sudbury, Mass.) and senior Kevin Brown (Northborough, Mass.) ripped consecutive singles to put runners on the corners with one out but Zerff induced a game-ending 6-4-3 double play to close the door.
LIU opened up a four-run lead with a single run in the first and three runs in the third. Pete Leonello led off the game with a single through the left side, advanced to third on consecutive ground balls and then scored on a Kevin Needham infield single. In the third, a one-out walk to Evan Emerich started the Blackbird rally. John Ziznewski followed with a single to right and Needham scored both with a double down the left field line. Needham scored the final run of the frame on a fielder's choice ground out by Mike Garcia.
After stranding a runner in each of the first three innings, the Bulldogs finally scratched across a run in the fourth. Sophomore John Mullen (Walpole, Mass.) was hit to start the inning, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored as classmate Jordan Mountford (Guelph, Ont.) singled through the right side. Freshman AJ Zarozny (Shrewsbury, Mass.) followed with a single to center but the Bulldogs' inning stalled there. Both advanced on a sac bunt but LIU starter Jordan Wilcox induced a pop up and got a strikeout to strand the runners.
Bryant continued to chip away in the sixth with a single run. Zarozny doubled off the left field wall with one out and scored two batters later as sophomore Daniel St. George (Shelton, Conn.) ripped a pinch-hit single through the left side to make it 4-2.
Graduate student John Healy (Cranston, R.I.) suffered his first loss of the season, dropping to 5-1. After the three-run third, he was dominant, though. He retired the next nine Blackbirds in order before an infield single started the seventh. Healy rebounded to strand runners on the corners with a strikeout. He allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits, struck out four and walked two. Wilcox was strong for LIU, earning his fourth win with six innings of two-run ball.
Offensively, Anderson and Zarozny each collected two hits for the Bulldogs while Brown stretched his consecutive on-base streak to 26 games.
Sophomore Kevin McAvoy (Syracuse, N.Y.) tossed five innings of one-run ball and the Bulldogs collected 10 hits to claim a 6-1 victory in game two.
Moments after the Blackbirds grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the third, the Bulldogs responded with four of their own to take the lead for good. Junior Tom Gavitt (North Stonington, Conn.) reached on an error to start the inning and scored two batters later as Mountford tripled into the right-center field gap. Anderson followed with a bloop single to score Mountford from third. He then stole second and scored as Brown doubled down the right field line. A single from Mullen put runners on the corners and Muscatello brought home the final run with a perfect safety squeeze to make it 4-1.
Bryant tacked on single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to close out its scoring. In the fifth, Mountford doubled to left-center to start the inning and Anderson scored him with a single through the left side. Zarozny then doubled to start off the top of the wall in left to start the sixth and scored on a two-out single from freshman Dan Cellucci (Sudbury, Mass.).
Staked to a lead, McAvoy put together another solid outing on the mound. After allowing a two-out single in the second, he didn't allow another hit until the top of the sixth inning. McAvoy allowed his only run in the third as Leonello walked, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on an infield error to make it 1-0. He rebounded by striking out the side in the fourth and retiring the side in order in the fifth. McAvoy left in the sixth after back-to-back singles but sophomore Trevor Lacosse (Watervliet, N.Y.) and Muscatello combined to get him out of the jam. Muscatello first dove to snag a Garcia ground ball up the middle to start a 6-3 double play, and then ranged deep to his backhand to throw out Jesse Brown at first to end the inning.
The top four hitters in Bryant's lineup – Mountford, Anderson, Brown and Mullen – combined for eight hits, four RBI and four runs scored. Mountford was 3-for-4 with two runs scored, Anderson had two hits, two RBI and two stolen bases, Brown scored a run and drove in a run and Mullen had two hits. McAvoy earned his third win of the year, allowing one unearned run on four hits over five innings. He struck out six and walked two.
Bryant will look to win the series on Sunday when the teams meet in the finale at 1:00 p.m.