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Ward, Wrighter sweep NEC weekly honors

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SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Bryant University baseball redshirt freshman Ryan Ward (Millbury, Mass.) and junior Nathan Wrighter (Windsor, N.Y.) swept the Northeast Conference weekly awards that were announced on Monday. 

Ward was named the league's Player and Rookie of the Week, while Wrighter picked up his first-career Pitcher of the Week honor. Ward, who was also named a Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week, is now a five-time rookie of the week selection this year. Bryant has now won 17 weekly awards in the first nine weeks of the season.

Ward's hitting streak reached 19 and his on-base streak reached 29 last week as the redshirt freshman batted .536 (15-for-28) over the course of five appearances. Eight of his 15 knocks went for extra bases, including a trio of round-trippers, as he slugged 1.036. Powering the Bulldogs to four wins and one tie, the outfielder produced five multi-hit performances while scoring at least one run in every outing. Ward, who has scored a run in 11 consecutive contests, logged 10 RBI and nine runs during the five-game week. He struck out only once in 28 plate appearances.

Ward began the week by logging two hits and two runs in a 9-9 tie against regional rival UConn. Then, he morphed into a RBI machine during the first half of the Bulldogs' four-game road series against Fairleigh Dickinson. He drove in 10 runs as Bryant won the first two games of the series by a combined 35-6 count. Ward led off the opener by singling and eventually coming around to score the first run of a 19-6 triumph. He proceeded to blast two three-run homers en-route to a 4-for-6 day at the plate. Ward went 4-for-6 again in Game 2, accounting for four RBI in the 16-0 win. The rookie led off the game by blasting a solo homer over the right-field fence. He added a two-run single one frame later. Ward recorded three more hits in Game 3 and also scored one run in the 11-7 victory. Helping Bryant complete the sweep, he connected on two doubles in the finale. Kick-starting the scoring once again, Ward doubled to lead off the contest and came home on a groundout two batters later.

Wrighter held the opposition hitless over three effective relief appearances during Bryant's 4-0-1 week. The 6-foot-6 right-hander totaled 5.0 innings, pitching to an 0.00 ERA and picking up a pair of saves in the process. Wrighter preserved the final two victories of the Bulldogs' four-game road series in Hackensack. With Fairleigh Dickinson in the midst of the five-run sixth inning in Game 3, the righty reliever extinguished the fire and kept Bryant in the lead. He entered with four runs already in and one out in the inning. After issuing a walk, Wrighter induced two groundouts to send his team back into the dugout with a 9-7 advantage. He stayed on to work the seventh frame and close out the 11-7 victory. In Sunday's finale, he was summoned with two runners on base and two out in the eighth inning. Protecting a 3-2 advantage, he prompted an inning-ending groundout. Wrighter worked around a leadoff walk in the ninth inning and struck out the final batter of the game to leave the tying run at third base. In a mid-week battle against UConn, Wrighter kept the score tied for 2.0 innings. He entered right after a bases-clearing, game-tying double in the eighth and went on to retire five batters in a row. He hit the No. 9 batter with two outs in the ninth before fanning Connecticut's leadoff hitter to force extra innings.

In addition, freshman Tyler Mattison (Fort Ann, N.Y.) was named an NEC Prime Perfomer. He struck out five over six scoreless innings in game three vs. FDU. Mattison didn't walk a batter for the second-straight start. 

Bryant returns to action on Wednesday when it welcomes Quinnipiac to Conaty Park. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 p.m.

Follow Bryant baseball on Twitter and Instagram to get an inside look at the program.