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Bulldogs rally falls short, 5-4

DSPics
DSPics

BRYANT FALLS TO HOUSTON BAPTIST, 5-4, ON OPENING DAY

HOUSTON, Texas – The Bryant University baseball team scored four runs in its final two at-bats but could not overcome a 5-0 deficit, falling to Houston Baptist, 5-4, on Friday afternoon at Husky Field.

The Bulldogs (0-1) rallied with three runs in the eighth inning and one in the ninth but it was not enough and they now have lost their season opener in four of the past five years. The Huskies (3-2) scored all of their runs in the third and fourth innings and rode the right arm of Tyler Hoelscher to its second-straight victory.

Trailing 5-0 in the eighth, the Black and Gold mounted a rally, posting three runs thanks to just two hits. Facing reliever Kobie Hajdik, junior Jonathan Scott (Princeton, N.J.) was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Sophomore Jordan Mountford (Guelph, Ont.) walked to put two on and freshman Dan Cellucci's (Sudbury, Mass.) chopper to third was thrown high at second to load the bases with no outs. Senior Dan Muscatello (Hopkinton, Mass.) followed with a sac fly to get Bryant on the board and senior Kevin Brown (Northborough, Mass.) and junior Tom Gavitt (North Stonington, Conn.) rapped consecutive singles to make it 5-3. Jake Gonzalez, the third Huskie pitcher of the inning, ended the threat with one pitch as he induced an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Bryant continued its rally in the ninth as freshman Robby Rinn and Scott worked back-to-back walks. Mountford advanced both with a sac bunt and pinch-hitter Matt Zanotta (Schenectady, N.Y.) walked to load the bases with one out. Muscatello followed with a flare to left-center that dropped, scoring Rinn from third but the Huskies were able to force out Scott at third for the second out. Gonzalez closed out the victory by inducing a ground ball to second.

With the game still scoreless, Houston Baptist finally broke onto the scoreboard with a big third inning. Josh Foust started the inning with a single to left field and the Huskies inning lasted long enough for Foust to bat again. Following a sac bunt, consecutive singles loaded the bases before Bryant starter Peter Kelich (Jackson, N.J.) issued a bases-loaded walk to make it 1-0. Curtis Jones and Mike Chamberlain then followed with back-to-back singles to run the score to 3-0. A bases-loaded walk to Luke Clements capped the scoring.

The Huskies big inning came just a half inning after the Bulldogs were unable to get on the board. After Scott's leadoff single was erased on a caught stealing, Mountford restarted the rally with a single through the right side. Cellucci and Muscatello worked back-to-back walks to load the bases for the heart of the order but Hoelscher induced an infield fly and a ground ball to second to end the threat.

After escaping the damage, Hoelscher settled into a dominant groove, setting down 14-straight Bulldogs from the third inning on. He didn't allow a runner to reach base after his walk to Muscatello and struck out four during the span including a pair in the sixth inning. Hoelscher allowed just two hits over seven innings, striking out six and walking two.

Kelich lasted just four innings for the Black and Gold, allowing five runs on eight hits. He suffered just his eighth-career loss and failed to throw at least five innings in a start for just the third time in his career. The last time it happened was on opening day of the 2011 season when he last 4.2 innings against Oklahoma State. Graduate student John Healy (Cranston, R.I.) came on in relief of Kelich in the fifth and was dominant in his first outing the Bulldogs, tossing three scoreless innings. He retired the first six Huskies he faced, striking out a pair. Sophomore Trevor Lacosse (Watervliet, N.Y.) worked a perfect eighth inning.

Offensively, Scott reached base three times with a hit, walk and hit by pitch and Muscatello drove in two runs. In addition to earning his second save, Gonzalez chipped in three hits and scored two runs for the Huskies. Wiggins had two hits and two RBI as well.

The Bulldogs and Huskies continue their three-game series on Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 3:00 p.m. EST. Junior Craig Schlitter (Guilford, Conn.) will get the ball for the Black and Gold.