BASEBALL BACK-TO-BACK REGULAR-SEASON CHAMPS
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Freshman Robby Rinn (Warwick, R.I.) delivered a game-winning single in the top of the ninth inning as the Bryant University baseball team wrapped up its second-straight Northeast Conference regular-season championship with a 2-1 victory over Wager on Thursday afternoon at Richmond County Bank Ballpark.
The Bulldogs (37-15-1, 24-5 NEC) not only claimed the regular-season title but clinched the top seed for next week's NEC tournament. The Seahawks (24-28, 16-13) have lost their last four games with Bryant.
With the game tied 1-1 in the top of the ninth, senior Dan Muscatello (Hopkinton, Mass.) led off with an infield single and moved to second on a sac bunt from sophomore Daniel St. George (Shelton, Conn.). Rinn followed by smashing a two-strike single right back through the middle to score Muscatello with the winning run. Senior Salvatore Lisanti (Bronx, N.Y.) earned his eighth save as he got a strikeout and a ground out to strand the tying run at second base in the bottom of the ninth.
In Thursday's pitchers' duel, it was the Bulldogs who were able to get on the board first, scoring in the third inning. Rinn extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a leadoff single and scored two batters later as sophomore Jordan Mountford (Guelph, Ont.) tripled down the right field line. Bryant had a chance for more as they loaded the bases with two outs on a hit by pitch and a walk. Wagner's Ryan Casey limited the damage, however, as he got a fly to left to end the inning.
Wagner was able to knot the score in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Chris Smith picked up the Seahawks' first hit of the game, a triple off the top of the wall in left-center. Nick Dini followed with a fly to center to score him and tie the game.
The game would remain tied until the ninth inning as both teams missed out on opportunities to score. In Bryant's half of the fifth, Mountford doubled with one out and moved to third on a wild pitch but was stranded. Wagner then picked up a pair of two-out hits in the bottom of the inning but Bryant starter Peter Kelich (Jackson, N.J.) struck out Jason Gordon looking to end the inning.
Both teams missed out on golden opportunities in the very next inning. An infield error and a bunt single from sophomore Carl Anderson (Sudbury, Mass.) put runners on the corners with no outs. Muscatello then lifted a fly ball to right that appeared deep enough to score the runner from third but Smith made the catch and threw a strike to the plate just in time to get sophomore John Mullen (Walpole, Mass.).
It was then Kelich's turn to work out trouble in the bottom of the seventh. Ian Miller led off with a single and Smith walked to start the inning. A sac bunt put runners on second and third and Kelich then hit Chase Gray to load the bases. He didn't falter, though, striking out Jayson Keel before getting a fly ball to right to end the threat.
The Seahawks then had another chance to take over the game in the eighth. They loaded the bases with two outs against sophomore reliever Trevor Lacosse (Watervliet, N.Y.) but Lacosse was able to work out of trouble, inducing a ground ball to short to end the inning.
Kelich turned in another outstanding start, scattering four hits over seven innings. He issued two walks and struck out seven. After escaping trouble in the sixth, Kelich capped his afternoon by striking out the side in the seventh. Casey was just as good for Wagner, allowing one run on six hits over eight innings. He struck out two and issued just one walk.
Mountford went 3-for-4 and finished a home run shy of the cycle. Rinn added two hits a run scored and an RBI.
The Bulldogs and Seahawks will play a doubleheader on Friday with first pitch scheduled for 1:00 p.m.