SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Freshman outfielder Matt Albanese (East Haddam, Conn.) sparked an offensive explosion with a career-high four RBI to lead the Bryant University baseball team to a convincing, 13-2, victory over USC Upstate on Friday afternoon at Harley Park.
Facing the Spartans (4-6) for the first time in program history, the Bulldogs (1-3) used a six-run fifth inning to break the game open and earn their first victory of the season. Bryant collected 12 hits and played flawless defense.
After the Spartans opened the scoring with a single run in the second, the Black and Gold responded with 10 runs over their next three at-bats. An error sparked a three-run rally in the third as senior Jonathan Scott (Princeton, N.J.) reached on fielding error and moved to third on a sac bunt. Albanese followed with a sac fly to left to drive in his first-career run. Sophomore AJ Zarozny (Shrewsbury, Mass.) restarted the inning with a double, junior John Mullen (Walpole, Mass.) was hit and sophomore Robby Rinn (Warwick, R.I.) walked to load the bases. Freshman Brandon Bingel (Peabody, Mass.) capped the inning as he cracked a two-run double to left field to make it 3-1. It was the first-career hit and RBIs for the rookie.
The Bulldogs tacked on a run in the fourth thanks to an RBI ground out from junior Carl Anderson (Sudbury, Mass.) before erupting for six runs in the fifth. After a pair of walks, junior Daniel St. George (Shelton, Conn.) drilled a two-run double to left-center to make it 6-1. Sophomore Dan Cellucci (Sudbury, Mass.) followed with an RBI single of his own, Anderson followed with an RBI double and Albanese capped the outburst with a two-run single to right to make it 10-1.
USC Upstate tacked on a second run in the sixth on a Luke Weber single but the Bulldogs responded with three runs over their next two at-bats to put the game away. St. George doubled to start the seventh, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on an error in right field. Two batters later, Albanese drove a single into center to score Scott from third. In the eighth, the Bulldogs loaded the bases with two outs and Scott delivered a sac fly to center to make it 13-2.
Senior right-hander Craig Schlitter (Guilford, Conn.) was the recipient of the offensive outburst as he earned his first victory of the season and the 19th of his career. Schlitter (1-1) allowed two runs on five hits and struck out three over six innings. After allowing back-to-back hits to start the second inning, Schlitter retired the next 14 Spartans in order before giving up a two-out double in the sixth. Senior Vaughn Hayward (Glendale, R.I.) pitched the final three innings to earn his first save of the season. He allowed just one hit, walked one and struck out one.
Albanese finished the best game of his young career with three hits and four RBI. St. George finished 2-for-2 with two RBI and three runs scored, Scott drove in two and scored three times, Anderson drove in two, Bingel drove in two and scored twice, Zarozny scored twice and Cellucci chipped in two hits. Freshman Zane Smith (Ilion, N.Y.) collected his first career hit as he smacked a pinch-hit single through the right side in the eighth inning.
The Bulldogs and Spartans continue their series on Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Junior Kevin McAvoy (Syracuse, N.Y.) will start for the Black and Gold.