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Bulldogs rally in ninth but Hawks win on walk-off single

Photo by: Rhett Hutchins
Photo by: Rhett Hutchins

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – The Bryant University baseball team scored three runs to tie the game in the top of the ninth but Hartford's Ben Bengtson delivered a walk-off single in the bottom half to lead the Hawks to an 8-7 victory over the Bulldogs on Tuesday afternoon at Fiondella Field.

The Bulldogs (3-14) have now lost their last three games against the Hawks (2-9) and their last seven overall. Bryant outhit Hartford but committed five errors on the afternoon.

Trailing 7-4 in the top of the ninth, sophomore Nick Angelini (Bedford, N.H.) led off with his second triple of the game, a line drive off the top of the right field wall. He then scored on a passed ball to bring the Black and Gold within two, but the next two batters were retired.

Freshman Chris Wright (Cumberland, R.I.) and sophomore Nolan Hayward (Glendale, R.I.) kept the inning alive with back-to-back singles to right center. Sophomore Tyler Panno (Rivervale, N.J.) followed with a walk to load the bases and senior Jacob Marotta (Bridgewater, Mass.) greeted closer John LaRossa with a game-tying, two-run single through the left side. The inning, however, ended abruptly as the Hawks were able to get the final out on a rundown at the end of the play.

Things unfolded quickly in the bottom of the ninth inning as Nick Campana hit a slicing drive to right-center that got past the dive of Angelini for a leadoff triple. Bryant then chose to intentionally walk the next two batters to set up the force but Bengtson singled home the winning run on the first pitch he saw.

Bryant opened the scoring on Tuesday as senior Cole Fabio (Mahwah, N.J.) led off with a single and came around to score on a fielder's choice.

The Hawks responded with three runs in the bottom of the first to take the lead. A fielder's choice and two walks loaded the bases and TJ Ward delivered a two-out, two-run single through the right side. With runners on the corners, Ward left early for second base to start a rundown and Bengtson was able to sneak in and score from third to make it 3-1.

Bryant battled back to tie the game with two runs in the third. Junior Mickey Gasper (Merrimack, N.H.) walked with one out and came all the way around to score as freshman Jimmy Titus (Stafford, Conn.) roped his first-career double to left-center. Panno tied the game two batters later with a two-out single to center.

The Hawks regained the lead with a pair of runs in the fifth. David MacKinnon singled with one out and Erik Ostberg followed with a line drive down the right field line. The ball was bobbled, allowing MacKinnon to score from first and Ostberg to make it to third. One pitch later, Ostberg trotted home on a wild pitch.

The Black and Gold cut into the lead in the seventh as Gasper led off with a towering solo home run to right field. It was his third home run of the season.

Bryant, however, made three costly errors that led to two key insurance runs for the Hawks in the bottom of the eighth. Ashton Bardzell reached on an infield error to start the inning and was moved to second by a sac bunt. After an intentional walk, a pickoff throw to second base went wild into center and alluded a charging Angelini, allowing both runners to score on the play and make it 7-4.

Freshman Vito Morgese (Warwick, N.Y.) allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits, walked two and struck out four in a season-high 4 1/3 innings. Sophomore Nathan Wrighter (Windsor, N.Y.) followed with 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief and classmate Craig Lacey (Westfield, Mass.) was charged with two unearned runs in 1 1/3 innings. Junior Logan Lessard (Cromwell, Conn.) was charged with his second loss of the season.

Angelini finished 3-for-5, becoming the first player since Brandon Bingel on Apr. 24, 2015 to hit two triples in a game. Fabio, Wright and Hayward all finished with two hits, while Titus drove in a pair.

Freshman lefty Thomas Feehan started and allowed three runs on four hits and four walks in three innings. Brian Stepniak added 3 1/3 innings of one-run relief, while LaRossa picked up the win after recording the final out of the ninth.

The Hawks finished the game with only three RBI, with Campana, MacKinnon and Bengtson all finishing with two hits. MacKinnon and Ostberg each finished with two runs.

Bryant returns to the diamond this weekend when it travels to Philadelphia for a three-game series against Saint Joseph's starting on Friday.