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Bulldogs lose game two in 17 innings

Photo by: Rhett Hutchins
Photo by: Rhett Hutchins

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Hal Shaw walked with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 17th to give Sacred Heart a 5-4 victory and a doubleheader sweep of the Bryant University baseball team on Thursday evening at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard.

With the loss, the Bulldogs (26-23, 18-6 NEC) are now in second place in the Northeast Conference standings with just two league games left to play. The Pioneers (18-30, 11-10 NEC) kept their playoff hopes alive with the sweep. Thursday's second game took five hour and 45 minutes to play and tied the Bryant DI program record for the longest game in terms of innings.

In the 17th, Keith Klebart singled to open the inning, PJ DeFilippo walked and Ausitn Markmann laid down a bunt that the Bulldogs threw to third but were unable to get Klebart. Alex Perry then popped up for the first out to bring Shaw to the plate. Shaw, who also earned the win on the mound, fouled off a 3-2 pitch before taking a fastball high to end the game.

The Bulldogs jumped out to a 1-0 lead in game two thanks to a spark from senior Cole Fabio (Mahwah, N.J.). Fabio opened the game by slapping one down the right field line and hustling into second with a double. He then stole third on the very next pitch and scored on junior Mickey Gasper's (Merrimack, N.H.) one-out single through the right side.

In the third, sophomore Nick Angelini (Bedford, N.H.) was the table setter as he walked, stole second and went to third as the ball went into center. He scored on a sac fly to left from Gasper to make it 2-0.

Sacred Heart rallied in the fifth, scoring three runs to take the lead. Elijah Brown opened the inning with a triple into the right field corner and would score on what appeared to be a sac fly from Jake Friar. Bryant left fielder Tyler Panno (Rivervale, N.J.) made the catch and then dropped the ball as he transferred to throw it in but it was ruled he never fully made the catch.

It would come back to haunt the Bulldogs as back-to-back strikeouts were followed by a two-out walk to Anthony Capozziello. Keith Klebart followed with a seeing-eye single up the middle to tie the game and PJ DeFilippo gave the Pioneers the lead with a ground ball up the middle that was bobbled.

Bryant and Sacred Heart then traded runs in the seventh and eighth. The Bulldogs tied the game in the top of the seventh on an RBI single from freshman Gaby Cruz (Miami, Fla.). Panno walked, went to second on a wild pitch, to third on a ground out and scored on Cruz's single chopper up the middle.

Sacred Heart, however, responded with a run of its own in the bottom of the inning. Capozziello singled on a bad-hop ground ball with one out, stole second and scored on a two-out single through the left side from DeFilippo.

The Bulldogs quickly answered, tying the game in the top of the eighth. Freshman Chris Wright (Cumberland, R.I.) walked to start the inning and then took off on a 3-2 pitch to classmate Jimmy Titus (Stafford, Conn.). Titus hit the pitch over the right fielder's head, scoring Wright all the way from first. On the play, however, Titus was tagged out after he got between second and third.

The fifth inning spoiled what was an otherwise outstanding start by Bryant sophomore Craig Lacey (Westfield, Mass.). Lacey had allowed no runs on just two hits over the first four innings but was knocked from the game in the fifth. He surrendered three runs (one earned) on four hits, walked two and struck out a career-high six batters.

Freshman Vito Morgese (Warwick, N.Y.) tossed two innings of one-run relief, sophomore Nathan Wrighter (Windsor, N.Y.) fired a career-high 4 1/3 scoreless innings and junior Logan Lessard (Cromwell, Conn.) added three scoreless innings of his own.

Titus led the Bulldogs with a career-high five hits. Panno tied the program record with his seventh triple of the season in the fourth inning.

Nick Rubino, Austin Markmann, James Taubl and Shaw combined to shutout the Bulldogs on just five hits over the final nine innings. Markmann had four hits while three different Pioneers finished with two hits.

The Bulldogs and Pioneers wrap up their series on Friday afternoon at Central Connecticut. The two games are scheduled to begin at 12:00 p.m.