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Karinchak fans 12, Bulldogs open 2017 with 6-3 win

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Junior James Karinchak (Walden, N.Y.) struck out 12 and allowed just two hits over five innings to lead the Bryant University baseball team to a 6-3 victory over New Mexico State on Friday evening at Presley Askew Field.

With the win, the Bulldogs (1-0) have now won their season opener for the second-straight season, a first in Division I program history. Bryant's four-run fifth was enough to hand the Aggies their first loss.

The story of the game was the preseason All-American Karinchak. The hard-throwing righty dominated in his first start of the season, striking out the first four batters of the game and at least two batters in each of the first three innings. Karinchak struck out the side in the first, struck out back-to-back batters with runners on second and third to strikeout the side in the second and fanned two more in a perfect third.

Karinchak closed his night in impressive fashion, striking out the side in the fifth. It is the fourth time in his career he has struck out 10+ batters and the second time he's done it in five innings. Karinchak now has 21 career victories, tying him with Kevin McAvoy for the third-most in DI program history.

Trailing 1-0, the Bulldogs erupted for four runs in the top of the fifth to give Karinchak the lead. The damage was done thanks to two hits, three walks and a hit batter. Freshman Chris Wright (Cumberland, R.I.) opened the inning with his first-career hit, a line-drive double to right center. Then, senior Jacob Marotta (Bridgewater, Mass.), freshman James Ciliento (Mahwah, N.J.) and senior Cole Fabio (Mahwah, N.J.) all drew consecutive full-count walks to force in the tying run.

Sophomore Nick Angelini (Bedford, N.H.) was then hit by a pitch to force in a run and freshman Ryan Ward (Millbury, Mass.) followed with a fielder's choice ground ball to make it 3-1. Junior Mickey Gasper (Merrimack, N.H.) capped the big inning with a hard ground-ball single up the middle that Aggie second baseman Brent Sakurai knocked down but couldn't field cleanly.

New Mexico State made a push to tie the game but Bryant's youthful bullpen answered the bell. The Aggies used a single and two walks to load the bases in the sixth and Mason Fishback scored a pair with a single down the right field line making it 4-3. Redshsirt-freshman Jack Owens (Scituate, R.I.) was summoned from the bullpen and walked the first batter he faced to reload the bases. He buckled down though and induced a high chopper to third off the bat of Tristen Carranza. Marotta fielded the chopper, stepped on third and fired across the diamond for the inning-ending double play.

The Aggies loaded the bases again in the seventh and this time sophomore Nathan Wrighter (Windsor, N.Y.) was called on to put out the flames. He came in with the bases loaded and two outs and got Trey Stine to fly out to right field, ending the threat.

Wrighter went on to toss a perfect eighth and handed the ball to freshman Jack Ipsen (Eatontown, N.J.) in the ninth. Ipsen allowed a bloop single and a walk but struck out Dan Hetzel looking to earn his first-career save. Owens, Wrighter and Ipsen combined to allow just one hit over 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief.

Gasper was the only Bulldog to finish with multiple hits, while Wright reached twice and scored two runs. Ciliento also reached twice, collecting his first-career hit in the top of the sixth. Sophomore Tyler Panno (Rivervale, N.J.) gave the Black and Gold insurance runs in the eighth as he slapped a pinch-hit, two-run double down the third base line.

Jonathan Groff, the DIII JUCO National Player of the Year last year, allowed four runs on just two hits but walked six. Fishback was the only player on New Mexico State to register multiple hits.

The Bulldogs and Aggies continue their series on Saturday with a doubleheader scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m. EST. Both games will be nine innings.