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Bulldogs come up short in opener, fall to UTSA, 8-6, on Friday

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – UTSA overcame a pair of two-run deficits, eventually breaking a tie in the bottom of the eighth, to hand the Bryant University baseball team a 8-6 loss in its season opener on Friday night at Roadrunner Field.

After surrendering leads of 2-0 and 4-2, the Bulldogs (0-1) were able to tie the game in the top of the eighth. The Roadrunners (3-2) responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning to grab the victory.

Trailing 6-4, the Bulldogs were able to rally in the eighth inning, taking advantage of three walks to tie the score. John Mullen (Walpole, Mass.), Matt Zanotta (Schenectady, N.Y.) and Cole Fabio (Mahwah, N.J.) all walked to load the bases with two outs and Matt Albanese (East Haddam, Conn.) came through a with a clutch two-run single through the left side to knot the score.

The Roadrunners benefited from a pair of wild pitches to retake the lead in the bottom of the inning. Three-straight singles loaded the bases with no outs before a wild pitch brought home the first run of the inning. After an intentional walk reloaded the bases, another wild pitch brought home the second run of the inning.

After leaving the bases loaded in the first, Bryant put its first runs of the season on the board in the second inning. Sophomore Zane Smith (Ilion, N.Y.) worked a 2-2 count before singling to center with one out and Fabio walloped a 2-1 pitch over the left-center field wall for his second career home run.

UTSA was able to tie the score with a pair of two-out runs in the third. Leadoff batter Kyle Markham doubled with one out and moved to third on a fly out to left field. A wild pitch on ball four to John Bormann then scored Markham with the first run. A passed ball and a wild pitch moved Bormann to third and Tyler Straub's two-out single tied the game.

Bryant regained the lead in the fifth inning as the top of the order went to work. Albanese and Jordan Mountford (Guelph, Ont.) started the frame with back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners. John Mullen (Walpole, Mass.) broke the deadlock two batters later with a single through the left side to score Albanese. Buck McCarthy (Saugus, Mass.) followed with a double into the left field corner to score Mountford but Mullen was cut down at the plate trying to score all the way from first.

The Roadrunners answered immediately, scoring two runs of their own in the bottom of the fifth. Markham led off the inning with a walk to bring Kyle Wilcox's (Sandy Hook, Conn.) night to a close. Matt Hilston followed with a single against reliever Brandon Bingel (Peabody, Mass.) and the two completed a double steal to put runners on second and third with one out. Straub came through again for UTSA, clubbing a two-run double to left-center to tie the game. Bingel would escape further damage with a strikeout and a ground ball to short.

UTSA grabbed its first lead of the game with two more runs in the bottom of the sixth. C.J. Pickering poked a ground ball inside the third base bag for what appeared to be a one-out double. The ball was misplayed, however, allowing Pickering to motor all the way around the bases to break the tie. Markham then reached for the fourth time in the game and scored on a double from Hilston.

Friday's starting pitching matchup was featured as one of the best in the country but neither starter made it through the fifth inning. The Bulldogs knocked UTSA starter Brock Hartson out of the game with one out in the fifth, while Wilcox exited after issuing a leadoff walk in the fifth. Hartson allowed four runs on seven hits, walked four and struck out four. Wilcox surrendered three runs (two earned) on four hits, three walks and two strikeouts.

Bingel allowed three runs on four hits, three walks and three strikeouts over three innings, while Alex Lagos (Wrentham, Mass.) was saddled with the loss. He allowed two runs on two hits in the eighth. Freshman Logan Lessard (Cromwell, Conn.) made his collegiate debut in the eighth, striking out a pair. Chance Kirby tossed 1.1 scoreless innings, while Patrick Herbelin earned the win in relief. He allowed two runs on just one hit, four walks and three strikeouts in three innings.

Albanese (2-4, 2 RBI) and Mullen (2-3, RBI) each finished with multiple hits, while Fabio drove in two and reached base three times (HR, 2 BB). Markham reached base all five times and scored three runs and Straub drove in three to lead UTSA at the plate.

The Bulldogs and Roadrunners continue their three-game series on Saturday with a 3:00 p.m. first pitch.