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Bulldogs open NEC play with 8-5 win over SHU

Photo by: Rhett Hutchins
Photo by: Rhett Hutchins

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Four different players recorded multiple hits and the Bryant University baseball team turned three key double plays on its way to an 8-5 victory over Sacred Heart in game one of a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon at Conaty Park.

With the win, the Bulldogs (5-17, 1-0 NEC) have won back-to-back games for the first time since the first two games of the season. Bryant has now won its NEC opener in each of the last six seasons. The Pioneers (7-16, 2-2) have now lost back-to-back league games.

Bryant raced out of the gates, scoring four runs on four hits in the first inning. Sophomore Nick Angelini (Bedford, N.H.) singled with one out, junior Mickey Gasper (Merrimack, N.H.) walked and freshman Chris Wright (Cumberland, R.I.) singled to right field to score the first run of the game.

Classmate Jimmy Titus (Stafford, Conn.) followed with an RBI double to right field, sophomore Tyler Panno (Rivervale, N.J.) brought in a run with a ground out and freshman Gaby Cruz (Miami, Fla.) capped the inning with an RBI infield single.

The lead remained at 4-0 until the Pioneers plated four unearned runs in the top of the fifth. Jake Friar led off the inning with a swinging bunt single down the third base line, advanced to second on a wild pitch and to third on an infield error. A passed ball scored Friar, while Elijah Brown plated a run with an RBI single to left center. The third Pioneer run scored on a balk and Anthony Capozziello tied the game with a seeing-eye single through the right side. Bryant, however, turned a key 6-4-3 double play to limit the damage.

Bryant quickly answered, scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth. Wright opened the inning with a single and Titus followed with a triple into the right field corner to break the tie. Panno brought home Titus with an RBI ground and back-to-back two-out doubles from junior Malik Daley (Northborough, Mass.) and senior Jacob Marotta (Bridgewater, Mass.) made it 7-4.

The Bulldogs added a run in the seventh with good team baseball. Senior Cole Fabio (Mahwah, N.J.) ripped a one-out double, promptly stole third and scored on a sac fly from Angelini.

Sacred Heart, however, had one more push but a huge double play squashed the threat. Three-straight singles opened the inning and a fielder's choice scored a run and left runners on the corners. Sophomore Nathan Wrighter (Windsor, N.Y.) was summoned from the bullpen and promptly induced a ground ball that Titus and Fabio turned into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Junior James Karinchak (Walden, N.Y.) pitched the first three innings fo rhte Bulldogs, allowing no runs on just one hit. He walked four and struck out four. Sophomore Steve Theetge (Syracuse, N.Y.) picked up his second win of the year with 4 1/3 innings of relief. He allowed five runs (one earned) on seven hits, walked one and struck out one. Junior Logan Lessard (Cromwell, Conn.) earned his second save of the year with a scoreless ninth.

Wright (2-5, 2R), Titus (2-5, 2RBI, 2R), Daley (2-4, R) and Marotta (2-3, RBI) all finished with multiple hits. Fabio drew his 100th walk in the game, becoming just the second player in program history to accomplish the feat.

James Taubl started for Sacred Heart and allowed seven runs on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings. Keith Klebart, Capozziello and Dan Schock all finished with two hits for the Pioneers.