STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Junior Kyle Wilcox (Sandy Hook, Conn.) allowed just one over eight solid innings and the Bryant University baseball team claimed at least a share of its fourth-straight Northeast Conference Regular-Season title with a 4-1 victory over Wagner on Thursday afternoon at Richmond County Bank Ballpark.
The Bulldogs (25-21, 16-5 NEC) now lead the Seahawks (25-20-1, 13-8) by three games and need one more win to secure the league title outright.
Thursday's much anticipated opener featured two of the top prospects in the NEC in Wilcox and Wagner starter Nolan Long. Wilcox won the battle, allowing just one run, four hits, one walk while striking out three over eight innings to earn his seventh win of the year. Long allowed just two hits but walked five and allowed four runs (two earned) in 5.1 innings.
Junior Buck McCarthy (Saugus, Mass.) gave the Black and Gold the early edge on Thursday. He got ahead 2-1 before launching a solo home run well over the left field wall with one out in the second. It was his fourth home run of the year.
Wagner responded with a run in the bottom of the second. Nick Dini singled to open the inning and a walk and a throwing error loaded the bases with one out. Sean Mazzio then tied the game with an infield single to deep short. Wilcox buckled down to strikeout the next batter before inducing a ground ball to third to end the threat.
The Black and Gold then took advantage of two Wagner errors to score three runs in the decisive sixth inning. Sophomore Cole Fabio (Mahwah, N.J.) bunted back to the pitcher to start the sixth but Long threw the ball away. He then hit senior John Mullen (Walpole, Mass.) and AJ Zarozny (Shrewsbury, Mass.) advanced both with a sac bunt. The Seahawks then intentionally walked McCarthy to load the bases for Mickey Gasper (Merrimack, N.H.). Long induced a ground ball to short but the throw was wide at second, allowing two runs to score. Junior Dan Cellucci (Sudbury, Mass.) capped the inning with an RBI ground out.
It was more than enough for Wilcox who retired 21 of the final 24 batters he faced on the afternoon. Classmate James Davitt (Wallingford, Conn.) came on in the ninth and struck out two to earn his second save of the year.
Fabio, Mullen and McCarthy had Bryant's three hits on the afternoon, while McCarthy scored two runs.
The two teams continue their series on Friday with a doubleheader scheduled for 1:00 p.m.