NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – The Bryant University baseball team overcame a 4-1 deficit but squandered two late leads as Central Connecticut earned a 7-6 walk-off victory on Sunday afternoon at the CCSU Baseball Field.
With the win, the Blue Devils (10-15, 4-4 NEC) earned a weekend split with the Bulldogs (10-15, 2-2). Bryant left the bases loaded in each of the last two innings and stranded 14 in the game.
Trailing 4-1, Bryant rallied to take its first lead with two runs in the seventh and two more in the eighth. In the seventh, senior Jordan Mountford (Guelph, Ont.) led off with a single through the right side to chase CCSU starter Casey Brown. Junior AJ Zarozny (Shrewsbury, Mass.) then greeted closer Kevin Connolly with a double that fell just out of the reach of a diving left fielder. Two batters later, junior Buck McCarthy (Saugus, Mass.) blooped a single into left field to bring home two runs and make it 4-3. Connolly rebounded to get a ground out and a strikeout to end the threat.
Bryant grabbed the lead the very next inning with two more runs. Sophomore Cole Fabio (Mahwah, N.J.) legged out a leadoff double to right center to lead off the inning and came around to score the tying run on an RBI single to left from junior Zach Wood (Griswold, Conn.). Sophomore Joseph Paparelli (Preston, Conn.) then clobbered a 3-1 pitch into the right-center gap for an RBI triple to give Bryant its first lead, 5-4. Mountford and Zarozny were then both hit to load the bases with no outs but Connolly got a comebacker for the first out and a 5-3 double play to end the threat.
The Blue Devils immediately responded with a run in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game. After the first two batters had been retired, Franklin Jennings singled to right field to start the rally. After a walk, Dom Severino singled through the left side to score Jennings with the tying run. Freshman Ross Weiner (Woodbridge, Conn.) remained poised and induced a ground ball to short to end the inning.
In the ninth, junior Robby Rinn (Warwick, R.I.) singled up the middle and sophomore Brandon Bingel (Peabody, Mass.) singled to left to start the inning. Fabio then fouled off two bunts before working the count full and eventually knocking a single off the glove of the third baseman to load the bases. Wood then flew out to center to score Rinn and make it 6-5. Bryant, however, left the bases loaded for the second-straight inning.
The Blue Devils had an answer, though. Ryan Costello opened the bottom of the ninth with a single to right field. Bingel then came on to pitch and struck out the first batter he faced. Dean Lockery then singled to center and Mitch Guilmette followed with a pinch-hit two-run double to left field to end the game.
Central jumped out to a quick lead Sunday, scoring two runs in the first inning. Mike Arman walked with one out and then went to third as Dom Severino hit a sinking line drive to center that fell for a double. Corey Lerche then hit a ground ball to deep second to bring home the first run. Ryan Costello made it 2-0 with a sharp single to center.
The Blue Devils extended their lead with an unearned run in the third. Severino singled to center to open the inning and went to second on a wild pitch. Costello then hit a ground ball behind the bag at first that Rinn slid to make a play on. Rinn then flipped to sophomore Jack Patterson (Suffield, Conn.) covering but Patterson stumbled and lost the ball, allowing Severino to score from second.
Bryant cut into the lead with a little help from the long ball. Bingel turned around a pitch from CCSU starter Casey Brown and sent it over the left field wall to lead off the fourth. It was his team-leading sixth home run of the season.
CCSU responded with a two-out run in the bottom of the fifth. Lerche walked, went to second on a wild pitch and came around to score on a two-out double Lockery.
Patterson allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits over 2.1 innings. Freshman Logan Lessard (Cromwell, Conn.) followed with 2.1 innings of one-run relief. He walked two and struck out four. Weiner then threw 3.1 innings and allowed just one run on two hits and was in line for his first career victory before the Blue Devils rallied.
Every starter collected a hit and the Bulldogs totaled 15 on the day. Bingel (3-4, RBI, R) and Fabio (3-5, R) each had three, while McCarthy (2-4, 2RBI) and Wood (2-4, 2RBI) added two apiece.
The Bulldogs return to the diamond on Wednesday when they host Connecticut at Conaty Park. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 p.m.