Bulldogs drop finale, 12-3

BULLDOGS DROP FINALE TO MASON, 12-3

FAIRFAX, Va. – Senior's Brig Tison and Dan Schafferman went a combined 8-for-9 and George Mason exploded for a six runs in the fifth inning to defeat the Bryant baseball team, 12-3, in the rubber match of their three-game weekend series Sunday at Spuhler Field.

The Patriots (6-4) claimed the weekend series over the Bulldogs (3-6) after winning Friday's opener, 1-0. Tison finished 4-for-5 with three runs and an RBI and Schafferman was 4-for-4 with two runs and two RBI.

Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth, the Patriots had their biggest inning of the weekend, scoring six runs on six hits and one Bryant error. Four consecutive hits from Jordan Hill, Chris Cook, Tison and Schafferman brought home the first two runs. Tison singled sharply up the middle to score one and Schafferman's fly to right dropped in for an RBI double to tie the game.

Bryant starter Craig Schlitter (Guilford, Conn.) looked like he might avoid further damage as he struck out Blaise Fernandez and got Mick Foley to fly to center but Zack Helgeson gave Mason a lead they would not give up with a two-run single to left field. The sinking liner fell just in front of a diving Kevin Brown (Northborough, Mass.). An infield error allowed the inning to continue and Jake Leonardo delivered another big blow, a two-run double to left-center, putting Mason up 7-3.

The Bulldogs were never able to rebound from the inning. Patriot reliever Jake Kalish did his part, limiting the Black and Gold to just one hits over the final four innings. He tossed a 1-2-3 sixth, worked out of a jam in the seventh and set down the final eight Bullodgs in order. In the seventh, an infield error and David Soltis's (Plainville, Conn.) third hit of the night put two runners on with one out but Kalish got a fly ball to center and a ground ball to strand the runners.

Bryant jumped out to its early lead with single runs in each of the first, third and fifth innings. Dan Muscatello (Hopkinton, Mass.) walked to leadoff the game and came around to score on a Soltis double to right-center for the first run. Soltis pushed the lead to 2-0 in the third, driving a single to same exact spot in right-center to score Brown. The Bulldogs capped their scoring in the fifth on an RBI double from Jamie Skagerlind (Holden, Mass.). Adam Claire (Litchfield, Conn.) singled through the left side to start the inning and moved to second on a Mike DelPonte (Tewksbury, Mass.) two-out walk before scoring on Skagerlind's double down the right field line.

Mason put the game away with five runs over the final two innings. A throwing error on a Nick Allen bunt scored Mason's eighth run and Leonardo produced a sac fly to make it 9-3. Fernandez and Helgeson capped the scoring in the eighth with a two-run double and an RBI single, respectively.

Schlitter started strong for the Bulldogs, allowing just a run on four hits over the first four innings before being touched up in the fifth. He worked around a pair of hits in the first by striking out two and before Tison and Schafferman hit consecutive doubles in the third to get the Patriots on the board.

The Bulldogs finished with nine hits on the afternoon, all of them coming from just four players. Soltis led the way with three knocks while Claire, Skagerlind and Carl Anderson (Sudbury, Mass.) all collected two hits apiece. Salvatore Lisanti (Bronx, N.Y.), Trevor Lacosse (Watervliet, N.Y.) and Brian O'Neil (North Reading, Mass.) finished out the game on the mound for Bryant. Making his first appearance of the season, O'Neil worked 0.2 scoreless innings.

A.J. Johnson started for the Patriots and delivered five strong innings to pick up his first win of the season. He allowed eight hits in five innings and struck out three. Helgeson and Leonardo each finished with three RBI apiece to pace the offense.

In the three games, Skagerlind led the Bulldogs, going 6-for-12 with a pair of doubles, two RBI and two runs scored. Soltis hit .417 with three RBI and Muscatello finished the weekend with five RBI and five runs scored. 

The Bulldogs return to Virginia next weekend, beginning an eight-game southern swing with a three game series in Radford against the Highlanders on Friday, March 9. Following their three-game set with Radford, the Black and Gold will face Liberty for a single game on Tuesday, March 13 before opening Northeast Conference play with a four-game series in Emmitsburg, Md., against Mount St. Mary's.

 
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