Bulldogs, Highlanders split twinbill Saturday

RADFORD, Va. – The Bryant University baseball team rallied to tie game one with four runs in the ninth inning but Aaron Scoville hit a walk-off double in the bottom of the 11th to give Radford University a 7-6 victory in game one of the doubleheader on Saturday afternoon at the RU Baseball Field. The Bulldogs rebounded for an 11-6 victory in the nightcap.

With the split, the Bulldogs (3-5) are now 2-3 all-time against the Highlanders (8-7). Radford saw its six-game win streak snapped in game two of the double-dip.

GAME ONE

Trailing 6-2 heading into the ninth, the Black and Gold rallied to tie the game with four hits and one big Radford error. Junior Daniel St. George (Shelton, Conn.) doubled over the right fielder's head to start the inning and sophomore Dan Cellucci (Sudbury, Mass.) moved him to third with a single. Freshman Brandon Bingel (Peabody, Mass.) followed with an RBI single to right to make it 6-3 and pinch-hitter Buck McCarthy (Saugus, Mass.) was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs. After a strikeout, freshman Matt Albanese (East Haddam, Conn.) pulled Bryant within two runs with a sac fly to right. Junior Jordan Mountford (Guelph, Ont.) then whistled a single to right to score Bingel and make it 6-5. Closer Michael Costello then appeared to secure the victory but junior John Mullen's (Walpole, Mass.) routine fly to left was dropped, allowing pinch-runner Joseph Paparelli (Preston, Conn.) to score the tying run. Radford kept the game tied as they were able to throw out Mountford at the plate trying to score the lead run.

Bryant had a chance to take the lead in the 10th inning but Cellucci was thrown out trying to score from first on a single to right center by Matt Zanotta (Schenectady, N.Y.). The Highlanders were finally able to breakthrough in the 11th as Blake Sipe was hit by a pitch to start the inning. A sac bunt moved him to second and Scoville scored him with a double to right center.

The Bulldogs were the first on the board, scoring single runs in the first and fourth innings. Sophomore Robby Rinn (Warwick, R.I.) reached on an error to start the second, moved to second on a sac bunt and scored as Dylan Nelson dropped a throw while covering first base that would have ended the inning. It was Rinn that got things going in the fourth as well as he was hit by a pitch to start the inning. St. George followed with a single to center that moved Rinn to third. Cellucci followed with a hard single off the shoulder of the shortstop to score Rinn with the second run. Bryant missed out on a chance to add to its lead as a failed sac bunt and back-to-back fly balls to center ended the inning.

Radford battled back to take the lead with two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth. Aaron Scoville singled and Josh Reavis doubled to put runners on second and third to start the inning before Josh Gardiner plated the first Highlander run with a ground ball to short. Radford tied the score two batters later as Zach Woolcock dropped a single into right field to score Reavis. Senior right-hander Craig Schlitter (Guilford, Conn.) came back to strike out Nygeal Andrews and classmate Jonathan Scott (Princeton, N.J.) threw out Alexander Lee at third to end the inning with a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play.

The Highlanders grabbed the lead in the fifth thanks to a Bryant error. Hunter Higgerson led off with a single, moved to third on consecutive bunts and scored on an infield throwing error to give Radford a 3-2 lead.

Radford would add to its lead with a single run in the sixth and two more in the seventh. Sophomore James Davitt (Wallingford, Conn.) was summoned from the bullpen with two on and out in the sixth and hit the first batter he faced to load the bases. He followed with a strikeout but a walk forced in the fourth run of the game. Davitt escaped further damage with a weak ground ball to second. In the seventh, Lee sent a 3-2 pitch over the left field wall for a two-run home run and a 6-2 Highlander lead.

Both starting pitchers were saddled with no decisions following Bryant's ninth-inning rally. Nelson allowed two runs (one earned) over six innings and Schlitter allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits, walked two and struck out three over 5.1 innings. Davitt allowed two runs on two hits over 2.2 innings of relief. Lacosse (0-2) suffered the loss, allowing one run on two hits over 2.1 innings of relief. St. George and Cellucci each had two hits on the afternoon and Rinn scored a pair of runs.

 GAME TWO

The Bulldogs collected 13 hits and benefited from 10 walks to take game two with the Highlanders, 11-6.

Bryant was able to push across a run in the first inning of game two thanks to a pair of hits. Albanese doubled to left center with one out and came around to score on a Mullen single two batters later.

Radford, however, responded with three runs in the bottom of the frame that started a back-and-forth scoring affair. Four-straight hits produced two runs before the Highlanders performed a perfect double steal to allow a third run to cross the plate.

The Bulldogs were able to answer in the top of the second on a Cole Fabio (Mahwah, N.J.) single but a second run was erased at the plate as Radford center fielder Blake Sipe threw out Rinn at home as he was trying to score on a fly out.

The Highlanders came right back in the bottom of the third with two more runs to open a 5-2 lead. The first two batters of the inning were hit, a sac bunt advanced them to scoring position and a intentional walk loaded the bases with one out. After a strikeout, Higgerson and Sipe both collected infield singles to knock in a pair of runs.

Bryant wasted little time erasing the deficit as it scored three runs in the top of the fourth. With runners on first and second and two outs, Fabio hit a hard smash to short that was stopped by a diving Coia but his acrobatic flip to second sailed high, allowing Rinn to scamper home. Junior Carl Anderson (Sudbury, Mass.) singled to left to load the bases and Albanese and McCarthy drew back-to-back walks to tie the game.

Radford used another two-out infield single in the bottom of the fourth to retake a brief one-run lead before the Bulldogs scored two runs in the sixth and another in the seventh to grab the lead for good. In the sixth, three walks loaded the bases with one out but it appeared reliever Kyle Zurak was going to escape trouble with a 1-2-3 double play. The throw home went as planned but the relay to first sailed down the right field line, allowing a pair of runs to score and give Bryant a 7-6 lead. The Bulldogs tacked on a run in the seventh as Cellucci doubled down the left field line, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Rinn ground ball to first.

Bryant capped its scoring with three runs in the eighth inning. St. George singled to start the frame and would eventually score on a wild pitch to make it 9-6. Senior Tom Gavitt (North Stonington, Conn.) completed the inning as he smacked a two-out, two-run triple into the right field corner. It was the first-career triple for Gavitt.

 Despite struggling early on, junior Kevin McAvoy (Syracuse, N.Y.) battled to throw six innings and earn his first win of the season. He allowed six runs on 10 hits, walked two and struck out six, one shy of his career high. Senior Vaughn Hayward (Glendale, R.I.) and sophomore Michael Marshall (Maynard, Mass.) combined to shutout the Highlanders over the final three innings. Hayward retired the side in order in the seventh and Marshall recorded the final six outs, three via strikeout, to close the door.

Offensively, Albanese collected three hits and Anderson, St. George, Cellucci and Fabio all finished with two hits. Albanese reached base five times with two walks and scored twice, Cellucci scored three times and Rinn walked three times and scored twice. Anderson also reached four times with a walk and a hit by pitch.

On the afternoon, Albanese, Cellucci and St. George each collected four hits and Rinn and Cellucci each scored four runs.

Bryant and Radford will complete their series on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.

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