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Blackbirds upset top-seeded Bulldogs, 7-2

Blackbirds upset top-seeded Bulldogs, 7-2

BULLDOGS STIFLED BY LIU, FALL ON DAY ONE OF NEC TOURNAMENT

LAKEWOOD, N.J. – Mother Nature and LIU Brooklyn right-hander Justin Topa helped the fourth-seeded Blackbirds knock off the top-seeded Bryant University baseball team, 7-2, on Thursday in the first round of the Northeast Conference baseball tournament at FirstEnergy Park.

Playing in their first NEC tournament in program history, the Bulldogs (40-16-1) were dropped into the losers' bracket of the four-team double-elimination tournament. They will play at 12:00 p.m. on Friday. With the victory, the Blackbirds (21-31-1) advance to the winners' bracket final on Friday afternoon against the winner of No. 2 Sacred Heart and No. 3 Monmouth.

It was a scoreless pitchers' duel through two innings before Mother Nature intervened. With a 2-2 count on Tommy Jakubowski, the skies opened up. A 69-minute rain delay followed and it gave the Blackbirds life. Pete Leonello picked up a one-out single, stole second and scored the first run of the game on an RBI single from Kyle Demarco. Three batters later, Kevin Needham delivered a two-run single to left and scored as Chris Untereiner singled right to push the LIU lead to 4-0.

The Blackbirds then tacked on single runs in the fourth and sixth innings. In the fourth, Jakubowski doubled to start the inning and scored on a two-out triple from John Ziznewski. In the sixth, it was Ziznewski again delivering a two-out single as he scored Tito Marrero to push the LIU lead to 6-1.

Bryant got on the board with a single run in the fourth. Sophomore Jordan Mountford (Guelph, Ont.) led off the inning with a single to center, stole second and scored as sophomore John Mullen (Walpole, Mass.) singled up the middle. The Bulldogs missed out on an opportunity for more as Topa retired the next two hitters.

The Bulldogs added their second run of the game in the ninth inning. Freshman AJ Zarozny (Shrewsbury, Mass.) reached on an infield error and scored on an RBI single from Mullen.

Topa baffled the Bulldogs on the afternoon, allowing just five hits while striking out six in a complete game victory. He worked around a leadoff double in the sixth and then induced an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play in the seventh.

Senior right-hander Peter Kelich (Jackson, N.J.) suffered his fourth loss of the season, allowing six runs in a start for the first time since March 25, 2011. He allowed 11 hits, struck out six and issued just one walk. Redshirt-junior Vaughn Hayward (Glendale, R.I.) came on in relief in the sixth and allowed one run over 1.1 innings. Junior Jonathan Cohen (Norwalk, Conn.) tossed two scoreless innings of one-hit relief.

Offensively, Mountford finished with three hits, including two doubles. Mullen was the only other Bulldog to record a hit, picking up a pair of singles and two RBI.