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Bulldogs fall to Liberty, 3-2, in heartbreaking fashion

Ozzy Jaime | Studio 1u Photography
Ozzy Jaime | Studio 1u Photography

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Liberty took advantage of three errors to score three unearned runs and earn a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Bryant University baseball team on Friday afternoon at the Liberty Baseball Field.

The Bulldogs (0-4) held a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the eighth but the Flames (4-3) scored a pair of unearned runs on a broken pickoff play to grab the lead.

In the eighth, Will Shepherd earned a one-out walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and to third on a ground out. Becker Sankey then worked a walk and Tray Roberts pinch-ran for the Flames. Roberts then took off for second and Bryant freshman reliever Logan Lessard (Cromwell, Conn.) stepped off and threw to third. His throw was errant, allowing the tying run to score. Roberts then raced all the way around to score as the throw to home was wild as well.

The Bulldogs tried to rally in the top of the ninth but stranded the tying run at second. Michael Lanza (Elmsford, N.Y.) opened the inning with a pinch-hit single, his first-career hit as a Bulldog, and a walk to Buck McCarthy (Saugus, Mass.) put two runners on but reliever Shawn Clowers closed out his third victory of the season with a strikeout.

Bryant scored first for the third time this season, plating a run in the second inning. Sophomore Jacob Marotta (Bridgewater, Mass.) singled up the middle with two outs and classmate Matt Albanese (East Haddam, Conn.) followed with a booming double to the right field wall, scoring Marotta all the way from first for the first run.

Liberty was able to tie the game without the benefit of a hit in the bottom of the sixth. Dalton Britt walked with one out and Will Shepherd's fly ball to left was dropped, putting runners on the corners. A hit batter loaded the bases and Nick Salisbury was able to beat out an inning-ending double play to bring home the tying run.

Bryant grabbed its 2-1 lead in the top of the eighth inning with a two-out single. AJ Zarozny (Shrewsbury, Mass.) doubled down the left field line with one out and came around to score as Cole Fabio (Mahwah, N.J.) slashed a single up the middle.

In his second start of the season, Kyle Wilcox (Sandy Hook, Conn.) battled to throw four scoreless innings. He allowed four hits, struck out three and walked three on the afternoon. Wilcox pitched in and out of trouble all afternoon, stranding two runners in each of the first three innings and seven total. He induced a fly out and got a punch out to end the first and struck out Nick Paxton to strand two more in the second. In the third, the Flames put runners on the corners with one out but John Mullen (Walpole, Mass.) fielded a slow roller and threw home to nab the runner. Wilcox escaped further damage with a fly ball to center.

Freshman James Karinchak (Walden, N.Y.) came on in the fifth inning and lasted 3.2 innings. He allowed three unearned runs on just one hit, walked three and struck out seven on the afternoon but was saddled with the loss. In his second career outing, Karinchak was dominant for the Black and Gold, striking out two in the sixth and the side in the seventh.

The senior duo of Jared Lyons and Clowers combined to strike out 14 batters on the afternoon. Lyons struck out nine and allowed one run on three hits over 5.1 innings. Clowers allowed one run on five hits and struck out five over 3.2 innings.

Bryant and Liberty will play game two of their series on Saturday. First pitch is at 1:00 p.m.