SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Sophomore James Ciliento (Mahwah, N.J.) delivered a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift the Bryant University baseball team to a 5-4 victory over Sacred Heart in the first game of their Northeast Conference series on Friday afternoon.
Bryant led 4-0 after seven innings but Sacred Heart tied the game with two runs in the eighth and two in the ninth. In the 11th, the Bulldogs rallied after there were two outs and no one on base. Sophomore Bryan Hart (Franklin, Mass.) fell behind 0-2 but worked a walk, freshman Sam Owens (Scituate, R.I.) singled to left field and the Pioneers chose to intentionally walk redshirt freshman Ryan Ward (Millbury, Mass.) to load the bases. Ciliento followed with a bloop single to center to end the wild game.
Sacred Heart's rally spoiled a dominant outing from Bryant junior Steve Theetge (Syracuse, N.Y.). The veteran lefty pitched into the eighth inning for the second time this year. He allowed just two earned runs on eight hits, walked one and struck out seven. Classmate Nathan Wrighter (Windsor, N.Y.) surrendered two unearned runs in the ninth but tossed a season-high three innings of relief to keep the game tied.
Bryant 5, Sacred Heart 4 (11 innings)
Records: Bryant (20-14-1, 11-4 NEC), Sacred Heart (9-21, 4-6 NEC)
Location: Conaty Park (Smithfield, R.I.)
W|L|S: Nathan Wrighter (1-2) | Cooper Thompson (2-3)
Coach Owens' Comments
"We got a great start from Steve Theetge. He went into the eighth inning without allowing a run. We did a good job in the middle of the game scrapping out a few runs. We had two or three chances to expand our lead and we couldn't come through. Then things didn't go our way defensively in the late innings and we found ourselves in an extra-inning game. Really nice job from Craig Lacey and Nathan Wrighter to hang in there and give us a chance to score a run. It was nice to be at home. It was a really long, hard game in cold weather. We are hoping to come out tomorrow and play better."
- Moments after Sacred Heart tied the game in the top of the ninth, Anthony Cappozziello attempted to give the Pioneers the lead. Bryant CF Nick Angelini (Bedford, N.H.) kept it tied as he raced into right center and made a tumbling catch for the third out.
- After the Pioneers chose to intentionally walk Ward to get to him in the 11th, Ciliento ended the game with a bloop single to center.
How it happened
- Theetge and Sacred Heart starter James Taubl kept both offenses at bay over the first three innings of the game.
- Bryant finally broke through in the fourth as senior Mickey Gasper (Merrimack, N.H.) tripled over the head of the right fielder. With two outs, sophomore Chris Wright (Cumberland, R.I.) beat out a slow roller to second to drive in the first run.
- The Bulldogs extended their lead with a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth. In the fifth, senior Malik Daley (Northborough, Mass.) singled with one out, stole second and scored on a single to center from Ward.
- In the sixth, sophomore Gaby Cruz (Miami, Fla.) and junior Tyler Panno (Rivervale, N.J.) delivered back-to-back doubles to bring home two runs.
- Sacred Heart cut the deficit in half with two runs in the eighth. The Pioneers opened the inning with three-straight hits to score a run and chase Theetge. Junior Craig Lacey (Westfield, Mass.) was summoned and he induced a fielder's choice that brought home a run. He ended the inning with a strikeout and a pop out.
- In the ninth, P.J. DeFilippo led off with a single and Danny Glendon walked to put two on. Cody Doyle then popped up a bunt but Austin Markmann's slow roller advanced the runners into scoring position. Elijah Brown then hit a ground ball to short that was bobbled. Owens recovered but his throw to first was late. Meanwhile, the runner from second never stopped running and scored on the back end to tie it.
- Bryant was able to win it with a two-out rally in the 11th. Hart battled back from 0-2 down to earn a walk, Owens moved him to third with a single to left and Ward was walked intentionally. Ciliento fell behind 1-2 but was able to bloop a single in between three SHU fielders in shallow center.
- Bryant out-hit Sacred Heart, 11-10.
- Theetge allowed two earned runs on eight hits over seven innings. He walked one and struck out seven.
- Lacey pitched a scoreless inning of relief.
- Wrighter went three innings, allowing two unearned runs on two hits. He walked one and struck out three.
- Ward finished 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI.
- Gasper went 2-for-5 with a triple and a run scored.
- Wright posted two hits and an RBI.
- Cruz and Panno both collected RBI doubles.
- Cappozziello and Markmann both had two hits for SHU. Taubl allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings.
- The Bulldogs are now 27-15 against Sacred Heart at the DI level.
- Bryant played its second extra-inning game of the year and is now 1-0-1.
- It is the second time Bryant has walked off this year. The Bulldogs also earned a walk-off win against Boston College.
- The Bulldogs have now won six-straight games.
- Theetge has now pitched seven innings in each of his last four starts.
- Wrighter tossed a season-high three innings of relief. He registered his first win of the season.
- Ward extended his hitting streak to 21 games and his on-base streak to 31 games. Both are the longest of his career. He has reached safely in all but one game this season.
- Ward posted his 18th double of the season and his 20th multi-hit game of the year.
- Wright has now driven in a run in 10-straight games. He has driven in 17 runs in that span.
- Wright has hit safely in 13 straight (career high) and reached safely in 15 straight.
- Gasper posted the 44th multi-hit game of his career.
- He now has triples in each of his last two games.
- Angelini stole his team-leading 15th base of the season. He has 43 stolen bases in his career.
- Daley has now collected a hit in each of his last four games.
Bryant and Sacred Heart continue their weekend series on Saturday with a doubleheader. First pitch in game one is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.