SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Senior Jacob Marotta's (Bridgewater, Mass.) two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the eighth capped a furious rally as the Bryant University baseball team out-slugged LIU Brooklyn, 13-11, in the series finale of their Northeast Conference series on Sunday afternoon at Conaty Park.
The win is the first for the Bulldogs (14-19, 8-2 NEC) under head coach Steve Owens when they have allowed the opponent 10+ runs. Bryant was 0-31 entering Sunday when its opponent scored in double digits. The Blackbirds (11-17, 3-8) held two four-run leads and a five-run lead in the game.
Trailing 11-9, senior Cole Fabio (Mahwah, N.J.) led off the bottom of the eighth with a triple off the top of the wall in right center. LIU then brought in Baylor LaPointe and he quickly got ahead of sophomore Nick Angelini (Bedford, N.H.) 0-2. The 0-2 pitch, however, was too good and Angelini belted it well over the fence in dead center to tie the game at 11-11.
Bryant then went to work taking its first lead of the afternoon. Freshman Chris Wright (Cumberland, R.I.) was hit by a pitch, classmate Gaby Cruz (Miami, Fla.) walked and both advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch. After an infield pop out, Marotta stroked a 1-1 pitch into left center to drive in the game-winning runs.
The eighth inning was the culmination of a wild Easter Sunday that saw LIU Brooklyn hold leads of 4-0, 4-2, 6-2 and 11-6. Bryant trailed by five in the seventh when it scored three runs to set up the eighth-inning rally. Angelini opened the inning with a deep drive to left center that was dropped by the center fielder, putting Angelini at third. Junior Mickey Gasper (Merrimack, N.H.) followed with an RBI single through the left side. A single and a walk loaded the bases before Gasper would score on a wild pitch. Marotta then delivered a sac fly to center to make it 11-9.
LIU Brooklyn scored in four-straight innings to build its five-run lead. The Blackbirds struck for four in the fourth thanks to Bryant's inability to turn a double play. Edward Modica and Andrew Turner hit back-to-back ground balls that appeared to be double plays but the Bulldogs were only able to get a force out and the second was misplayed for an error.
A single would load the bases and Joe Curcio delivered a single to center. The runners on second and third scored, while the runner from first also scored after the relay throw to third went wide. Curcio would score in the next at-bat as Andrew Smith singled down the third base line.
Bryant answered with two runs of its own as sophomore Tyler Panno (Rivervale, N.J.) clubbed a two-out, two-run triple into right center.
But the Blackbirds came right back as Modica led off the fifth with a solo home run to right center. Curcio would then score Turner (BB) with a single up the middle to make it 6-2.
The Black and Gold then completely erased the deficit with four runs in the fifth. A hit batter and a walk put two on and Angelini singled up the middle to score a run. A walk loaded the bases and Wright grounded a two-run single through the right side to make it 6-5. Panno then tied the game with a sac fly to left.
LIU quickly answered, though, scoring four runs in the sixth and one more in the seventh. Joe Mercadante stroked a two-run single to left center to break the tie and Turner put an exclamation point on the sixth inning with his second long ball of the series, a two-run shot to left center. Curcio's leadoff home run in the seventh pushed the lead to 11-6.
Sophomore Craig Lacey (Westfield, Mass.) started for the Bulldogs and allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits in 3 1/3 innings. Redshirt-freshman Jack Owens (Scituate, R.I.), the fifth of six Bryant pitchers, earned his first collegiate victory after tossing a scoreless eighth. Junior Jack Patterson (Suffield, Conn.) earned his second save of the weekend with perfect ninth.
Angelini went 2-for-4 with a career-high tying three RBI and a career-high four runs scored. Wright drove in a pair to give him nine RBI in the series, Cruz finished 2-for-3 with three runs scored and Panno and Marotta each drove in three. Fabio's leadoff triple in the eighth was the 200th hit of his career. He becomes the 18th player in program history and the fifth in DI program history to accomplish the feat.
Curcio had three hits and four RBI, while Luis Arias chipped in three hits for the Blackbirds. Nick Freijomil allowed six runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings and settled for a no decision.
The Bulldogs hit the road on Tuesday when they travel to Hamden, Conn., to face Quinnipiac. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 p.m.