ABILENE, Texas – Freshman Jake Gustin (Peabody, Mass.) drove in two runs and then made a game-saving diving catch in the bottom of the eighth inning to help the Bryant University baseball team earn an 8-7 victory over Abilene Christian in Friday's season opener.
Making his collegiate debut, Gustin singled, walked, drove in two and scored a run at the plate but made his biggest impact defensively. In the bottom of the eighth, the Wildcats got within a run after a Gustin miscue but the rookie made up for it. With the bases loaded and one out, Gustin dove up the middle to snare a line drive and then stepped on second to double off the runner and end the threat.
Sophomore Tyler Mattison (Fort Ann, N.Y.) earned the win, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits over five innings. Bryant's bullpen then did enough to close the door as junior Chris Wright (Cumberland, R.I.) recorded the final out to earn his first-career save.
Coach Owens' Comments
"We are pleased to come out on top. We played from ahead the entire game and did a good job of scoring runs situationally. What we didn't get was a big hit to blow the game open. James [Ciliento] had a really good day, Sam [Owens] was good at the plate, Nick [Angelini] was good and Jake [Gustin] was good in his debut. We made some defensive mistakes but that happens early.
Tyler gave us a solid start and only made one mistake. Our bullpen was a little rocky but they were able to grind it out and close the door. Chris did his job and Bryan [Hart] made a great play at third for the final out."
- With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the eighth, Gustin turned a line drive up the middle into an inning-ending double play.
- In the ninth, Wright was summoned with runners on the corners and two outs and was able to get a ground ball to third to end the game.
How it Happened
- Junior James Ciliento (Mahwah, N.J.) singled, senior Nick Angelini (Bedford, N.H.) doubled and redshirt sophomores Ryan Ward (Millbury, Mass.) and Jimmy Titus (Stafford, Conn.) followed with RBI ground outs.
- The Bulldogs extended the lead in the third on an RBI ground out from Gustin.
- ACU answered with three runs in the bottom of the second. Koby Claborn hit a two-run home run to center and an infield error led to the tying run.
- Bryant retook the lead with one swing of the bat in the fourth. Sophomore Sam Owens (Scituate, R.I.) lifted an 0-2 pitch over the right field wall for the third home run of his career.
- The Black and Gold then added a single run in the fifth and two more in the sixth to grab a 7-3 lead. Ward singled, stole second, took third on a single and scored on a sac fly from sophomore Shane Kelly (Sewell, N.J.) in the fifth. In the sixth, senior Tyler Panno (Rivervale, N.J.) moved to third on an errant pickoff throw and scored on a Gustin single to left. Gustin then moved to third and scored on a sac fly from Ciliento.
- ACU got right back in the game with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Robert Salazar hit a two-run home run to left field and Scott made it 7-6 with a sac fly.
- Ciliento restored the two-run lead with a mammoth opposite field home run in the top of the eighth.
- The Wildcats closed the gap in the bottom of the eighth. Scott was hit by a pitch and then Trevino's ground ball to second was misplayed. An RBI single followed and an intentional walk loaded the bases. Gustin then snared Claborn's liner and turned it into an inning-ending double play.
- In the ninth, Wright was summoned with runners on the corners and two outs and was able to get a ground ball to third that junior Bryan Hart (Franklin, Mass.) slid to field before throwing to first for the final out.
- ACU outhit Bryant, 13-10.
- The two teams combined to make seven errors. ACU made four and Bryant committed three.
- Mattison allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out three.
- Senior Craig Lacey (Westfield, Mass.) allowed one run on three hits, walked two and struck out two over two innings.
- Classmate Nathan Wrighter (Windsor, N.Y.) recorded five outs and allowed an unearned run on two hits.
- Ciliento went 2-for-3 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored from the leadoff spot.
- Titus collected two hits and reached base three times in his return to the lineup.
- Owens went 2-for-4 with a home run and two runs scored.
- Gustin reached base twice, drove in two and scored a run.
- Spencer Chirpich allowed four runs on four hits over four innings in the loss.
- Randle had three hits, while Scott doubled twice and Claborn and Salazar both finished with two RBI and two runs scored.
Notes and Notables
- Bryant won on Opening Day for the third time in the last four years.
- The eight runs are the most the Black and Gold have scored in a season opener in DI program history.
- Mattison is now 6-2 in his career.
- Ciliento extended his hitting streak to seven games and his on-base streak to eight games dating back to last year.
- Panno has now reached safely in a career-high 15-straight games dating back to last year.
- Wright earned his first-career save in his 15th-career appearance.
- Two of Owens' three career home runs have tied the game or given the Bulldogs the lead.
Bryant and Abilene Christian continue their series on Saturday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. EST.