BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Junior AJ Zarozny (Shrewsbury, Mass.) had three hits, two RBI and three runs scored and the Bryant University baseball team used a five-run sixth inning to earn a 10-5 victory over Sacred Heart in the opening game of a Northeast Conference weekend series on Friday afternoon at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard.
The Bulldogs (18-19, 9-4 NEC) rallied back from two different deficits to hand the Pioneers (14-24-1, 7-6) their fifth-straight loss. Bryant remains a game behind Wagner for first place in the league standings.
Friday's opener didn't start well for Bryant as its season-long struggles in the first inning continued. Jesus Medina was hit by a pitch, went to second on a passed ball, to third on a wild pitch and then scored on the back end of a double steal. Ted Shaw then delivered a two-out single through the right side to score the second run and give SHU a 2-0 lead.
The Black and Gold responded with the next three runs to take the lead in the fourth. Sophomore Cole Fabio (Mahwah, N.J.) doubled and then scored on a single from Zarozny in the second to plate the first run. In the fourth, three walks loaded the bases with one out and junior Dan Cellucci (Sudbury, Mass.) delivered a two-run single to center to give Bryant a 3-2 lead. A diving catch in left-center by SHU's Jayson Sullivan ended the inning and kept the Bulldogs from adding more runs.
Sacred Heart, however, responded with three runs of its own to grab the lead back. Shaw led off the bottom of the fourth with a walk, stole second and scored the tying run on consecutive ground outs. In the fifth, Sullivan was hit by a pitch and came around to score on a fielder's choice to give SHU the lead back. P.J. DeFilippo added a two-out single to left to make it 5-3.
Bryant answered back in a big way in the top of the sixth, scoring five runs on five hits. The bottom third of the order got the rally going as Zarozny smashed a single past the third baseman, junior Buck McCarthy (Saugus, Mass.) walked and Cellucci singled through the left side to score a run. Senior Jordan Mountford (Guelph, Ont.) followed with a single through the right side to score McCarthy and tie the game.
Cellucci then scored on a wild pitch and sophomore Brandon Bingel (Peabody, Mass.) reached out and hit a ground ball that snuck just inside the first base bag and rolled into the SHU bullpen. It bounced around and Bingel raced into third with an RBI triple as the ball was ruled dead. Junior Robby Rinn (Warwick, R.I.) capped the inning with a two-out single to right field to make it 8-5.
The Bulldogs closed out their scoring with single runs in the seventh and eighth. Rinn doubled home a run in the seventh and Zarozny hit a home run off the foul pole in left in the eighth. It was his third home run of the year.
Junior Kyle Wilcox (Sandy Hook, Conn.) battled through a rough start to throw seven innings for the Bulldogs on Friday. He allowed five runs on just four hits, walked three and struck out six on the afternoon to earn his sixth-straight win. After his team plated five runs in the top of the sixth, Wilcox came back out to meticulously retire the Pioneers in the next two innings, striking out four, to end his outing. Classmate James Davitt (Wallingford, Conn.) tossed the final two innings and allowed just one baserunner.
Zarozny (3-4, HR, 2RBI, 3R), Cellucci (2-4, 3RBI), Mountford (2-5, 2R), Bingel (2-5) and Rinn (2-5, 2RBI) all had multiple hits for the Bulldogs on the afternoon.
The Bulldogs and Pioneers continue their weekend series on Saturday with a doubleheader scheduled for 1:00 p.m.