JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Junior John Mullen (Walpole, Mass.) and freshman Cole Fabio (Mahwah, N.J.) each had three hits and two RBI, and senior Craig Schlitter (Guilford, Conn.) earned his 20th-career victory as the Bryant University baseball team earned a 9-6 victory over East Tennessee State on Friday night at Thomas Stadium.
Trailing 3-1 after six innings, the Bulldogs (6-6) rallied to score eight runs over their final three at-bats to earn their third-straight victory. The Buccaneers (7-10) have now lost three straight and seven of their last nine.
Held in check by ETSU starter Austin Hutchison for the first six innings, junior Carl Anderson (Sudbury, Mass.) sparked the Bryant offense as he was hit by a pitch with one out in the seventh. Mullen followed with a sharp single to right center and classmate Jordan Mountford (Guelph, Ont.) smashed a double off the wall in left center to score both and tie the game at 3-3. Freshman Matt Albanese (East Haddam, Conn.) followed with an RBI single to break the tie, sophomore Dan Cellucci (Sudbury, Mass.) added a sac fly and Fabio capped big inning with a clutch two-run single to right field to make it 7-3.
Bryant added to its lead in the very next inning with one swing of the bat. Mullen led off the eighth and walloped a fastball well over the scoreboard in left center to give the Black and Gold an 8-3 advantage. It was Mullen's first home run of the season and the seventh of his career.
ETSU, however, put together a rally in the bottom of the eighth. A walk and a fielding error opened the door for the Buccaneers and Zach Mize's single to right field scored the first run of the inning to make it 8-4. A sac fly and an RBI double brought the Bucs within two and brought junior closer Trevor Lacosse (Watervliet, N.Y.) into the game. The lefty walked the first batter he faced but induced ETSU's best hitter, Clinton Freeman, to hit into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
The Bulldogs completed their scoring in the ninth inning as Daniel St. George (Shelton, Conn.) and Fabio collected back-to-back singles before Anderson laid down a perfect bunt for an RBI single and a 9-6 Bryant lead.
The Buccaneers controlled a majority of the game early on. They wasted little time getting to Schlitter in the first, posting a pair of runs. After a one-out walk, Freeman laced a double off the top of the wall in left center for a run-scoring triple and Chris Riopedre followed with an RBI single through a drawn-in infield to make it 2-0. They tacked on what appeared at the time to be a crucial insurance run in the sixth inning. Trey York tripled to right center and scored on a fielder's choice to make it 3-1.
Bryant's only run off Hutchison came with two outs in the third inning. St. George drew a leadoff walk and advanced to third on consecutive ground outs before Mullen slapped a single through the right side to make it 2-1.
Making the 40th start of his career, Schlitter (2-1) became the sixth pitcher in program history and just the second at the DI level to win 20 games in a career. He allowed three runs on five hits, walked four and struck out five on the night. After the rough first, he didn't allow another hit until the fifth and allowed just two baserunners total in that span. Schlitter worked out of a crucial jam in the fifth as he squelched a two-out rally by the Bucs as he induced a fielder's choice ground out with the bases loaded. Sophomore Michael Marshall (Maynard, Mass.) tossed one inning, allowing three runs on three hits. Lacosse recorded the final five outs to pick up his second save of the season.
The Bulldogs saw five players collect multiple hits in the outing, with Mullen tying his career high and Fabio setting it. Anderson, Albanese and Robby Rinn (Warwick, R.I.) all chipped in two hits and St. George saw his hitting streak extend to nine games.
Bryant and ETSU meet again on Saturday in game two of the series. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 p.m.