Kelich, Bulldogs win opener, 4-1
BULLDOGS DEFEAT ST. JOSEPH'S, 4-1, BEHIND KELICH
CARY, N.C. – Junior right-hander Peter Kelich (Jackson, N.J.) made four first-inning runs stand up as he allowed one run and struck out six over six innings, leading the Bryant University baseball team a to a 4-1 victory over St. Joseph's on Friday afternoon at the USA Baseball Complex.
In winning their season opener, the Bulldogs (1-0) accomplished something they had not done since defeating Bentley to begin the 2008 season. Staked to a four-run lead before he even toed the rubber, Kelich was dominant in winning his 16th decision against just four losses in a Bulldog uniform.
After back-to-back hits by the Hawks (0-1) led to a run in the second, Kelich buckled down, retiring 13-straight batters before issuing consecutive one-out walks in the sixth inning. Clinging to a three-run lead, Kelich got a fly out to left but Chris Hueth's single loaded the bases with two outs. Kelich left all three runners where they were though, retiring Tommy Cunningham on a ground ball to first.
The Bulldogs' bullpen did the rest after that. Jonathan Cohen (Norwalk, Conn.) was summoned in the seventh and pitched two scoreless innings of baseball, the only blemish being a two-out error in the eighth. It was one of the few times the Hawks got a bat on the ball against Cohen as the left-hander struck out the first four batters he faced and allowed just one ball to leave the infield. That ball fell into the glove of a sliding Connor Carignan (Norwich, Conn.) in shallow right-center field.
Newly appointed closer Salvatore Lisanti (Bronx, N.Y.) didn't have to wait long to get his first chance at recording a save, entering the game in the ninth inning. He allowed a leadoff single but senior third baseman David Soltis (Plainville, Conn.) scooped up a one-hopper and began a 5-4-3 double play to clear the bases. Lisanti issued a two-out walk but snared a comebacker and flipped on to first to end the game.
Offensively, the Bulldogs did all their scoring in their first at-bat of the season. They scratched across four runs despite collecting just one hit. St. Joseph's starter Kyle Mullen struggled with command in the first inning, issuing three walks and hitting two batters. Carignan walked to start the game, Soltis was hit by a pitch and senior catcher Mike DelPonte (Tewksbury, Mass.) walked to load the bases. Mullen then walked senior Jamie Skagerlind (Holden, Mass.) to force in the first run and hit sophomore Joseph Carcone (New Hartford, N.Y.) to make it 2-0 Bulldogs. The Black and Gold's only hit in the inning was a big one though, as junior Dan Muscatello (Hopkinton, Mass.) laced a two-run single into left-center field to cap the scoring.
Bryant had chances to add to its lead but could not break through. With DelPonte on second with two outs in the third inning, Carcone smacked a single to left field but a good relay from the Hawks cut DelPonte down at the dish, keeping the score at 4-1. The only other inning the Bulldogs had multiple hits was the sixth when they collected a trio of singles. A 6-4-3 double play dashed any hopes of scoring, however.
Playing in his first collegiate game, freshman Jordan Mountford (Guelph, Ont.) collected a pair of singles on the afternoon. Muscatello matched him with two singles and Carignan and Soltis both reached base twice despite going hitless.
After his rough first inning, Mullen settled down, striking out four and allowing just three hits over five innings. Shane Carey and Mike Muha split the final four innings, holding the Bulldogs scoreless on four hits.
Bryant continues its weekend at the USA Baseball Complex with a pair of games on Saturday, Feb. 18. The Bulldogs face Wright St. at 11:00 a.m. and Marshall at 3:30 p.m.