SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University baseball team continues its season opening 16-game road trip this weekend with a three-game series against Big South favorite Liberty in Lynchburg, Va. All three games will be broadcast live on the Liberty Flames Sports Network.
** UPDATE: Due to weather conditions this weekend in Lynchburg, Va., Bryant and Liberty will now play just three games. Friday's game has been moved up to a 1:00 p.m. start, Saturday's doubleheader has been trimmed to just one game with a first pitch at 1 and Sunday's series finale remains at 1:00 p.m. **
Bryant and Liberty will be meeting for the second time in program history this weekend. The Bulldogs earned a 6-2 victory over the Flames on March 13, 2012. Then freshman Jordan Mountford went 2-for-3 with his first career home run to propel the Black and Gold to the mid-week victory. Jon Scott also hit his first career home run that afternoon for the Bulldogs.
SCOUTING THE FLAMES
Ranked as high as No. 23 in the preseason polls, Liberty is off to a 3-3 start to the season. The Flames are coming off a 41-win season and their second-straight appearance in the NCAA tournament. It marked the first time in the program's 41-year history that they had made consecutive postseason appearances. They won the Big South regular season title and received an at-large bid to the Charlottesville, Va., Regional hosted by the University of Virginia.
Offensively, the Flames are led by preseason All-American Alex Close. The senior was drafted in the 27th round by the Kansas City Royals last June but decided to return for his final year. He is hitting just .200 to start the year but hit .323 with nine home runs and 46 RBI last spring. SS Dalton Britt is hitting .348, while two-way standout Ashton Perritt leads the team with eight RBI.
Sophomore Parker Bean is off to a rough start this season but was a Freshman All-American last spring. Perritt saved 12 games a year ago and is a preseason All-American utility selection.
BRYANT'S SEASON OPENING STRUGGLES CONTINUE
The Bulldogs' struggles in season openers continued last weekend at UTSA. Bryant is now 1-6 in openers since the 2009 season. Bryant's only win came during the 2012 season when they defeated St. Joseph's 4-1. The victory over St. Joe's is also the only opening weekend victory for Bryant since the 2009 campaign.
EARLY SEASON BLUES
Bryant's struggles early on in the season have lasted longer the first weekend in recent years. The Bulldogs are a combined 4-14-1 over the first two weekends in the last three years. Add in last weekend and that record goes to 4-17-1.
BRYANT AGAINST THE BIG SOUTH
Bryant is 4-4 against current members of the Big South. Bryant is 3-4 against Radford and has won its only meeting with Liberty. The Bulldogs lost 2-of-3 to Radford in 2014 and 2012 after winning the first meeting in 2009. Bryant defeated the Flames in 2012.