SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Freshman Jimmy Titus (Stafford, Conn.) hit a walk-off two-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to propel the Bryant University baseball team to a 7-6 victory and a Northeast Conference sweep of Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday afternoon at Conaty Park.
Moments after classmate Chris Wright (Cumberland, R.I.) extended the game with a two-strike, two-out single, Titus launched an 0-1 pitch over the left field wall to send the Bulldogs (21-21, 14-4 NEC) into a frenzy at home plate.
The homer capped a four-game sweep of the Knights (10-24, 7-8 NEC) and brought Bryant back to .500 for the first time since the opening weekend of the season. Bryant finished the month of April with a 17-4 record and is now 18-4 in its last 22 after starting the year 3-17. The Bulldogs came from behind to win for the third time this series and for the 11th time in their last 18 victories. Sunday's game also featured a one hour and five minute rain delay between the third and fourth inning.
Sunday's series finale played out like a majority of the series as FDU jumped out to an early lead only to see the Bulldogs rally. The Knights sent nine men to the plate and scored three runs on five hits in the first. Ryan Brennan drove in the first run, three-consecutive singles led to a second run and Hunter Reeser's bases-loaded walk made it 3-0.
Bryant quickly answered, scoring two runs in the first and two more in the second to take the lead. Senior Cole Fabio (Mahwah, N.J.) walked and sophomore Nick Angelini (Bedford, N.H.) doubled to open the first. Junior Mickey Gasper (Merrimack, N.H.) drove in the first run with a ground out to second and Wright drove in a run with a sac fly to right.
In the second, sophomore Tyler Panno (Rivervale, N.J.) was hit by a pitch to start the inning and advanced to second on a sac bunt. Freshman Gaby Cruz (Miami, Fla.) followed with an opposite-field single to tie the game. Three batters later, Angelini gave the Bulldogs the lead with an opposite-field, two-out single to right.
It remained a one-run game until the fifth when the Black and Gold manufactured a run. Wright was hit by a pitch and advanced to third as Panno slapped a single through the left side. Freshman James Ciliento (Mahwah, N.J.) followed with a ground ball to second to score a run.
FDU responded with two runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game. Jason Fatzinger singled to open the inning, moved to second on a ground out, to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Brandon Seltzer's bunt single. Seltzer would eventually steal second and scored the tying run on Matt McCann's single up the middle.
The game remained tied until the ninth thanks to a great defensive play from senior Jacob Marotta (Bridgewater, Mass.) in the eighth. With runners on the corners and two outs, Brennan hit a hard ground ball to the left side. Marotta dove to his left to field the ground ball and then fired to first to end the inning.
Bryant couldn't hold off the Knights in the ninth, however. Evan McDonald greeted Bryant closer Logan Lessard (Cromwell, Conn.) with a single and moved to second on a sac bunt. Jorge Iza singled through the left side to put runners on the corners and Mike Veit followed with a single off the leg of Lessard to give the Knights the lead. Lessard kept it a one-run game, though, as he got a ground ball to short and a foul pop to end the inning.
Freshman Vito Morgese (Warwick, N.Y.) earned a no decision after allowing three runs on eight hits over five innings. He rebounded from a tough first to allow just three hits over his last four innings. Sophomore Nathan Wrighter (Windsor, N.Y.) worked 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief, while Lessard earned the win.
Angelini, Titus and Panno all finished with two hits. Panno reached base four times and Wright reached three times.
FDU's Corey Zeller held Bryant in check before getting knocked out of the game by a comebacker in the sixth. He allowed five runs on six hits, walked two and struck out four in 5 2/3 innings. Jake Sciarotta followed with 2 1/3 innings of one-hit relief. Brennan, the Knights' closer, suffered his first loss.
McDonald had three of FDU's 15 hits, while McCann, Brennan, Iza and Fatzinger all had two hits. McCann also stole two bases.
Bryant continues its nine-game homestand on Wednesday when it welcomes Northeastern to Conaty Park. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.