SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University baseball team returns to Conaty Park this weekend as it hosts LIU Brooklyn in a Northeast Conference series beginning on Friday afternoon at 3:00 p.m.
Winners of five-straight, the Bulldogs (15-16, 6-2 NEC) enter the weekend tied for first in the league standings. The Blackbirds (12-24, 5-7) have lost four-straight games and are currently tied for fourth place in the NEC.
Bryant and LIU will be meeting for the seventh-straight year dating back to 2009, the Bulldogs' first at the DI level. The Black and Gold own an 18-7 advantage in the all-time series after sweeping all four games last year in Brooklyn.
The Bulldogs' offense has been a driving force in the last 10 games, helping the Bulldogs go 7-3. Bryant has collected double-digit hits in eight of the 10 games, are hitting .351 as a team and have averaged nearly eight runs per game. The Bulldogs have collected 28 doubles over the 10-game stretch and are now 34th in the country with 2.10 doubles per game. Senior John Mullen (Walpole, Mass.) leads the way with 11 and senior Jordan Mountford (Guelph, Ont.) and juniors Robby Rinn (Warwick, R.I.) and AJ Zarozny (Shrewsbury, Mass.) each have 10.
On the mound, the Bulldogs have reaped the benefits of a dominant weekend rotation led by junior Kyle Wilcox (Sandy Hook, Conn.). He has won his last four starts, throwing eight innings in three of the four. Last weekend, he allowed just a single unearned run on six hits, walked one and struck out four over eight innings against Mount St. Mary's.
Senior Trevor Lacosse (Watervliet, N.Y.) and freshman James Karinchak (Walden, N.Y.) give Bryant two of the top Saturday starters in the NEC. Lacosse scuffled last week, allowing five runs over 4.2 innings but has still struck out 36 in 38.2 innings. With his start this weekend, Lacosse will be making his 84th career appearance, moving him into second place on Bryant's all-time list. Meanwhile, Karinchak has dominated in his first two NEC starts this year. The rookie allowed just one run on six hits and struck out six last Saturday and has allowed just one run on nine hits, walked two and struck out 13 in a pair of complete games.
For LIU, Tom Jakubowski, Mark Hernandez and Bobby Webb lead an offense that can get hot at any moment. Jakubowski is one of the best hitters in the league and enters the weekend with a .355 average, nine doubles, five triples, three home runs, 20 RBI, 26 runs scored and 13 stolen bases. Hernandez was an all-conference player last year and is tied for the league-lead in RBI with 26. Webb also earned all-conference laurels last season and has three home runs and 14 RBI despite hitting just .236 this year.
On the mound, the Blackbirds will roll out three right-handers that have enjoyed success this year. Brian Drapeau will get the start on Friday and is 1-3 with a 3.88 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 58 innings. He allowed just two runs (one earned) on eight hits over 7.2 innings last week against Sacred Heart. Bobby Maxwell will start game one Saturday and the righty has been a sure-fire complete game his last four starts. He allowed just two runs on eight hits over seven innings last week but was saddled with the loss. Hernandez will get the ball in game and he has struck out 37 in 42 innings this year.