SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Freshman Sam Owens (Scituate, R.I.) delivered a walk-off single with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning to lead the Bryant University baseball team to a thrilling 2-1 victory over Wagner College in the first game of a crucial Northeast Conference series at Conaty Park.
The two teams entered tied for first place in the league standings and could have played all night if not for Owens' heroics in the 11th. Sophomore Gaby Cruz (Miami, Fla.) opened the inning with a single through the left side, went to second on a sac bunt and hustled around to score the game-winning run on Owens' single up the middle.
Friday's series opener lived up to the hype as the league's top two teams went pitch-for-pitch. Bryant's junior trio of Steve Theetge (Syracuse, N.Y.), Nathan Wrighter (Windsor, N.Y.) and Craig Lacey (Westfield, Mass.) combined to allow just one run on six hits. They walked one and struck out eight on the afternoon.
Bryant 2, Wagner 1 (11 innings)
Records: Bryant (28-19-1, 18-5), Wagner (32-15, 17-6)
Location: Conaty Park (Smithfield, R.I.)
W|L|S: Craig Lacey (4-1) | Kevin Wiseman (1-3)
Coach Owens' Comments
"Really tough game. Well pitched by both teams. Runs were hard to come by. Pitchers pitched out of tough jams. Steve Theetge was really good. Our defense was REALLY good. Sam played great and Tyler Panno made some super plays at third base. Malik made a great diving catch in right field. And then we hung in there and got a big hit from Sam which is nice, especially with John Mullen in the stands because he's the king of big hits.
It's tough. We are in finals and had 17 guys take finals this morning and they found a way to play a good baseball game. I think the people here today they saw a pretty clean, good baseball game between two good teams."
- Wrighter allowed back-to-back singles to open the ninth but was able to pitch through the heart of Wagner's order to keep the game tied.
- Wagner's Kevin Wiseman earned his own stripes as he retired redshirt freshman Ryan Ward (Millbury, Mass.) and senior Mickey Gasper (Merrimack, N.H.) to strand two runners in the 10th.
- In the top of the 11th, Lacey got a strikeout and a ground out to strand a runner at second.
- Owens came through in the clutch with a two-out game-winning single in the bottom of the inning.
How it happened
- Wagner's Joe Silvestrone broke the deadlock with a home run to right field in the top of the second inning.
- Bryant was able to tie the game with an unearned run in the sixth. Junior Nick Angelini (Bedford, N.H.) singled to lead off the inning and sophomore Chris Wright (Cumberland, R.I.) walked to put the first two runners on. The Seahawks were able to turn a 3-6-1 double play on Ward but Gasper followed with a ground ball up the middle. Sean Mazzio fielded the ground ball but his throw to first was dropped, allowing Angelini to score.
- The Black and Gold defense then turned a big 5-4-3 double play to end the eighth inning.
- Reliever Koby Bishop pitched out of his own jam in the eighth, getting back-to-back fly outs to strand two.
- Cruz opened the bottom of the 11th with a single through the left side. Senior Malik Daley (Northborough, Mass.) moved him to second with a sac bunt and Owens won the game with a single up the middle.
- Bryant and Wagner both finished the game with six hits.
- Theetge allowed one run on just three hits over seven innings. He walked one and struck out seven on the afternoon.
- Wrighter allowed three hits over three scoreless innings.
- Lacey came on for Wrighter with a man on in the 11th and recorded the final three outs to earn his fourth win.
- Angelini picked up a hit and was hit by a pitch twice.
- Wright singled and walked twice.
- Ward had a single and a walk.
- Owens was the Bulldog with multiple hits, finishing with two.
- Wagner's Eric Ligda allowed one unearned run on four hits over seven innings.
- Bryant now owns a one-game lead in the NEC standings.
- The Bulldogs are 28-11 all-time against Wagner.
- Bryant and Wagner have now split four games this season.
- Bryant is 2-0-1 in extra innings this year.
- The Bulldogs also improved to 7-2 in one-run games this season.
- It is the first time Bryant has won while scoring two runs or less this season. It is just the 13th time they've accomplished the feat in seven-plus years under Owens.
- The Bulldogs earned their third walk-off win of the year.
- Ward recorded his 87th hit of the season, tying the DI program single-season record.
- Gasper has now reached safely in a career-high 26-straight games.
- Theetge posted his seventh quality start of the year.
- Lacey has now won a career-high four games.
Bryant and Wagner continue their series on Saturday afternoon at Conaty Park. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.