Kelich becomes fifth pitcher to win 20

KELICH PICKS UP WIN NO. 20 AS BULLDOGS DEFEAT CCSU, 10-2

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Junior Peter Kelich (Jackson, N.J.) won his 20th career game with eight strong innings and senior Connor Carignan (Norwich, Conn.) drove in two runs and scored three as the Bryant University baseball team defeated Central Connecticut, 10-2, in game one of their four-game series Thursday afternoon at Conaty Park.

The Bulldogs (14-13, 7-2 NEC) have now won consecutive games and took a 5-4 lead in the all-time series against the Blue Devils (15-11, 9-4 NEC). The Black and Gold also took over sole possession of first place in the Northeast Conference with the victory.

Touched for two runs in the top of the firsth, Kelich settled down and dominated the Blue Devils over the next seven innings to become just the fifth pitcher in program history to win 20 games. After giving up the two first-inning runs, Kelich built momentum by emerging from the second inning unscathed. A walk, single and a catcher's interference loaded the bases with one out but Kelich rebounded to end the inning on a strikeout and a ground out to first.

The right-hander allowed just two hits the rest of the way. After allowing a two-out walk and a single in the fourth, Kelich ended the inning with a strikeout to jump-start a string of 12 consecutive men set down. He retired the Blue Devils in order in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings before allowing a two-out infield single in the eighth. He finished with eight strikeouts and has now struck out 26 in three conference starts.

Unfazed by an early 2-0 deficit, the Bulldogs battled back with timely hitting and a fundamental approach. Carignan started the game with a walk, stole second, moved to third on ground ball and scored on a Kevin Brown (Northborough, Mass.) sac fly to right.

The Bulldogs eventually tied the game with a run in the fourth. Senior Mike DelPonte (Tewksbury, Mass.) singled to lead off the inning and freshman John Mullen (Walpole, Mass.) doubled off the wall in left to put runners on second and third. Senior Jamie Skagerlind (Holden, Mass.) followed with a ground ball to first that scored DelPonte from third to tie the game. The Bulldogs were primed for more but Mullen was caught in between third and home on a ground ball back to the pitcher and a ground ball to second left runners on first and second to end the inning.

Carignan kept the momentum going in the fifth, starting the Bulldogs with a double down the right field line. He moved to third on an Adam Claire (Litchfield, Conn.) fly out to center and scored on a Brown ground out to first base to put Bryant ahead, 3-2.

The Bulldogs put the game away with a two-out rally in the eighth inning. Skagerlind's hard grounder to first took a high hop to start the rally, Muscatello reached on an infield error and Zanotta's ground ball to second was also misplayed to allow Skagerlind to score. Freshman Carl Anderson (Sudbury, Mass.) walked to load the bases and Carignan greeted reliever Jesse Frawley with a bloop single to left field that scored Muscatello and pinch-runner Ben Lipper (Westport, Conn.). Brown followed that with a two-run single of his own and Mullen capped the big inning with a two-run single to right-center.

The Blue Devils did not waste any time getting on the board, plating two runs in the top of the first. Jake Matuzsak beat out an infield single to start the inning, Dylan Delacruz singled him to third and Tyler McIntyre dropped a single into shallow center to put the Blue Devils on top, 1-0. Mike Washburn scored the second run by beating out a fielder's choice ground ball to second.

Carignan, Mullen and Skagerlind all finished with two hits and Brown tied a career-high with four RBI. Bryan Menduke (Oakland, N.J.) pitched a scoreless ninth to preserve the win. Matuszak and Delacruz were the only Blue Devils to register multiple hits. Harry Glynne lasted 7 2/3 innings and allowed seven runs (three earned) on five hits.

The Bulldogs and Blue Devils continue their series on Friday with a doubleheader scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. The two seven-inning games were originally scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m.

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