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March 15, 2012

Baseball opens NEC play at The Mount

BULLDOGS OPEN NEC PLAY WITH FOUR-GAME SERIES AT MOUNT ST. MARY'S

EMMITSBURG, Md. – Coming off an inspiring victory over Liberty University on Tuesday, the Bryant University baseball team opens Northeast Conference play on Friday, March 16 against Mount St. Mary's at the E.T. Straw Family Stadium at 3:00 p.m.

Friday's game is the first of four games between the Bulldogs (5-8) and Mountaineers (5-9) over the course of the weekend. The two teams will meet in a doubleheader on Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 1:00 p.m. and will conclude the series on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.

Bryant will be out to match last year's result against The Mount, a four-game sweep in Smithfield, R.I. The Bulldogs held the Mountaineers to just six runs and a .175 team average last year at home, sweeping the series with 3-1, 3-0, 9-3 and 5-2 victories. The Bulldogs hold a 6-2 lead in the all-time series and hasn't lost to the Mountaineers since April 17, 2010.

Both teams enter Friday's conference-opener on a high note. The Mount has won four-straight games after starting 1-9 and is fresh off a walk-off victory over Georgetown on Wednesday at home. Trailing 9-4 after five innings, The Mount scored one run in the sixth and three in the seventh to pull within one before Tom Healy capped the comeback with a game-winning two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth.

The Mountaineers are hitting .291 as a team and are lead by senior first baseman Josh Winter. A native of Timonium, Md., Winter is hitting .407 with four doubles, a home run and a team-high 17 RBI. Mark Quaranta provides another valuable bat, hitting .396 with three doubles, two home runs, 12 RBI and 14 runs scored.

On the mound, The Mount sports a 6.85 team ERA over the first 14 games of the season. Facing the Bulldogs this weekend will be Scott Nickerson, Brady Feigl, Thomas Williams and Karl Lamont. Feigl made 29 appearances over his first two years with the Mountaineers before undergoing Tommy John Surgery last season. This season, he's allowed just two run on two hits over eight innings. He's walked nine and struck out 14. Nickerson is 0-1 with a 6.89 ERA, Williams is 1-0 with a 4.24 ERA and Lamont 1-1 with a 6.43 ERA over 21 innings. Lamont struck out eight over six innings against University of Maryland-Eastern Shore on Tuesday.

Bryant is coming off one its biggest wins since moving to Division I, a 6-2 victory over a 16-win Liberty team on Tuesday. The mid-week victory highlighted the improvements the Bulldogs have made since the opening weekend of the season. Freshman Jordan Mountford (Guelph, Ont.) and sophomore Jonathan Scott (Princeton, N.J.) each hit two-run home runs and the Black and Gold collected four extra-base hits as a team on the day. After registering just three extra-base hits over the first six games of the season, the Bulldogs have collected 20 over the last seven games, including six home runs.

Mountford leads the Bulldogs with a .294 average in just 17 at-bats and has reached base at .400-clip thanks to three walks. Junior Dan Muscatello (Hopkinton, Mass.) is hitting .277 with seven RBI and nine runs and senior Jamie Skagerlind (Holden, Mass.) is hitting .273 with a team-high four doubles. Junior Kevin Brown (Northborough, Mass.) is hitting just .236 but has produced a .473 slugging percentage behind two doubles, a triple and three home runs.

Pitching has been one of the Bulldogs' biggest strengths this season and they will roll out one of the best four-man rotations in the conference this weekend. Freshman Kevin McAvoy (Syracuse, N.Y.) will make his first conference start of his career on Friday and will be followed by junior Peter Kelich (Jackson, N.J.) and sophomores Joseph Michaud (Milford, Conn.) and Craig Schlitter (Guilford, Conn.) on Saturday and Sunday. McAvoy is 1-1 with a 7.20 ERA in four appearances but has not started a game since the first weekend of the season. Kelich is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA and has allowed just 18 hits over 25 innings on the mound. Michaud (1-2, 6.87) and Schlitter (0-3, 5.28) will both be looking to put forth strong performances against the Mountaineers. Last season against the Mountaineers, Kelich struck out eight in a complete game shutout and Schlitter picked up his first collegiate win with seven innings of two-run ball.

Following Sunday's series finale, the Bulldogs head back to Smithfield to open Conaty Park vs. Boston College on Wednesday, March 21 at 3:00 p.m. It will be the first of four-straight home games for the Black and Gold.

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