Pitchers' duel results in split for Bulldogs

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – For the second time this season sophomore Peter Kelich (Jackson, N.J.) tossed a complete-game shutout, as the Bryant University baseball team blanked Sacred Heart University, 3-0, in the early outing, but could not make it two-straight, dropping the second in extra innings, 2-1, Saturday in Bridgeport, Conn.

Kelich (4-2) mowed down the Sacred Heart (23-19, 15-8 Northeast Conference) lineup in game number one, ringing up three and allowing just two walks, while Bryant (22-21, 11-11) picked up seven base knocks from six different Bulldogs.

After three scoreless innings, the visiting side posted two runs in the top of the fourth, with Jordan English (Windsor Locks, Conn.) reaching base on balls to lead off the frame.  One out later, English flashed his speed with a stolen base and would eventually be driven home courtesy of a RBI single by Mike DelPonte (Tewksbury, Mass.). DelPonte followed up with his second stolen base of the season before Jamie Skagerlind (Holden, Mass.) Knocked him home on a RBI single to centerfield for the 2-0 edge.

Bryant would distant themselves in the next inning, as Kevin Brown(Northborough, Mass.) connected on a one-out single to right field. The junior would eventually come across on a RBI single by shortstop David Soltis (Plainville, Conn.).

The three-run cushion would be all Kelich needed on the mound, as the New Jersey native surrendered a mere hit over the last three frames, securing the 3-0 victory for the Bulldogs.

With the W, Kelich has won his last three starts and has allowed a combined five runs in 20.2 innings of work.

Much like the earlier contest, the night cap turned out to be a pitcher's duel, as neither team had much success converting with runners on. Bryant stranded eight while the hosts left seven on board.

Bryant  jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first, as Brown got things started with a one-out double to right field. English followed up with a RBI single up the middle of the diamond, allowing Brown to touch home plate.

The lead would be short-lived, though, as the Pioneers responded in the bottom half, as slugger MJ Schifano walked, advanced on an error and took home on a passed ball by Salvatore Lisanti (Bronx, N.Y.).

Lisanti would settle after the bottom of the first but not before pulling himself out a bases- loaded jam in the bottom of the second. After allowing two singles to start the frame, Sacred Heart's Mike Depalma reached on a fielder's choice sacrifice bunt with no outs. Steve Tedesco would pop out to right field but English snipped the tagging runner at home with a laser for the double play. Lisanti would force a groundout to the mound to end the threat.

Brown would pick up his second double of the outing in the third, but would be picked off caught stealing to third base in the next inning.

The Bronx native would retire the side in the fourth before giving way to southpaw Mark Andrews (Hillsborough, N.J.), who would make quick work of the opposing lineup, not allowing a hit in the next 2.2 innings.

After failing to end things in the scheduled seven, the Bulldogs would have their chance in the top of the eighth, as Soltis reached and moved into scoring position on an error by the Pioneers infield. But SHU's pitcher Robbie Maguire forced two pop flies to end the threat.

Andrews, who had been solid in his 3.0 innings of work, would carry over his dominance into extra innings, retiring the side in order in the bottom of the eighth.  But the home side would finally break through with a lead-off single by Tedesco in the bottom of the ninth. Tedesco would make his way over to third on back-to-back ground outs before Schifano connected on a 1-1 pitch and sent it to centerfield for the 2-1 walk-off victory.

Brown paced the lineup with his 2-for-5 performance at the dish, while the club drops to 1-1 in extra-inning games.

The Bulldogs look for the split tomorrow evening, as both teams will face off at 6:30 p.m. for series finale in Bridgeport, Conn. Fans can listen in on all the action at www.bryantbulldogs.com and check live stats on the Bryant Baseball website.

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