SMITHFIELD, R.I. – With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Bryant University baseball team welcomes Fairleigh Dickinson to Conaty Park for a key Northeast Conference series this weekend.
The Bulldogs (20-20, 11-5 NEC) and the Knights (17-19, 8-8) would both be in the tournament if it started Friday and could possibly be meet again in Norwich, Conn., depending on the results over the next two weeks.
Bryant has dominated the all-time series with FDU, winning 18 of the first 20 meetings. The Black and Gold have won nine-straight dating back to 2012, having swept the Knights the last two years. FDU, however, posted its only two wins in the series the last time it visited Smithfield, sweeping Saturday's doubleheader to earn a weekend split.
The Bulldogs come into this series after enjoying one of their best offensive weekends of the season. Bryant scored 44 runs in four games against Sacred Heart and also collected 16 extra-base hits. The Black and Gold once again feature one of the nation's most dynamic offenses ranking 16th in the country in scoring (7.2), 16th in slugging (.460), third in triples per game (0.53), 33rd in doubles per game (2.05) and 36th in home runs per game (0.85).
Leading the way has been senior right fielder Jordan Mountford (Guelph, Ont.). Although he's hitting just .295, Mountford leads the team and the NEC in RBI (35), runs scored (39), doubles (14), home runs (6) and total bases (87). He has collected at least two hits in eight of his last 10 games and has driven in 14 runs over that stretch. Mountford and junior first baseman Robby Rinn (Warwick, R.I.) are currently the only two players in the league that have 30+ RBI and 30+ runs scored.
Bryant's weekend rotation will have a rather youthful feel to it this weekend as freshman Ross Weiner (Woodbridge, Conn.) will join classmate James Karinchak (Walden, N.Y.), sophomore Brandon Bingel (Peabody, Mass.) and junior Kyle Wilcox (Sandy Hook, Conn.). Weiner tossed 6.2 scoreless innings of relief last Saturday against Sacred Heart. He allowed just two hits, walked three and struck out five in the longest outing of his short career.
The other three have all put together solid performances this year. Wilcox earned his sixth-straight win last Friday, while Karinchak and Bingel each tossed seven scoreless innings to earn NEC Rookie and Pitcher of the Week honors, respectively. Karinchak tossed his fourth-straight complete game and earned his third shutout, while Bingel fanned a career-high five over seven frames on Sunday.
FDU is currently enjoying a breakthrough year this spring and come into the weekend with an 8-8 record in the NEC. The Knights have won each of their last three weekend series, taking three-of-four from LIU Brooklyn most recently. FDU hit seven home runs on the weekend and are second in the league with 18 on the year.
Dylan Sprague leads the team with a .315 average and also has three home runs and 20 RBI. Ryan Brennan has posted a team-high 12 doubles, three home runs and leads the team with 24 RBI. Joel Roman has also been a key offensive producer with five home runs and 21 RBI.
On the mound, the Knights have posted a team ERA of 6.10. Their four weekend starters, however, give them a chance to win every time out. Friday's starter Joe Flack is 2-2 with a 2.95 ERA in just six starts. He is holding opponents to a .206 batting average. Ryan McGrath will start game three of the series and he is currently tied for the league lead with six wins. FDU also possesses the top closer in the league in Eric Snyder. The senior is 4-0 with nine saves and a 2.32 ERA in 20 appearances. Snyder recently became the all-time saves leader in NEC history, surpassing former Bryant closer Mark Andrews.