SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Freshman John Mullen(Walpole, Mass.) broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning with an RBI double and the Bryant University baseball team held on for a 3-2 Northeast Conference victory over Central Connecticut State University Saturday afternoon at Conaty Park.
Mullen's eighth-inning double helped the Bulldogs (17-13, 10-2 NEC) complete the series sweep of the Blue Devils (15-14, 9-7 NEC). Sophomore Jonathan Cohen(Norwalk, Conn.)squelched a CCSU rally in the seventh and tossed a scoreless eighth to pick up his second win of the season, and junior Salvatore Lisanti(Bronx, N.Y.) picked up his fifth save with a scoreless ninth.
For the first five innings of Saturday's series finale, freshman hurlers Kevin McAvoy (Syracuse, N.Y.) and Casey Brown were locked in an old fashioned pitcher's duel. Both allowed just one hit over the first five frames and they allowed just three total baserunners.
McAvoy allowed erased a leadoff single in the third with a 5-4-3 double play in the third and Brown rebounded from a leadoff single in the bottom half of the inning to retire three-straight. McAvoy then set down eight-straight before a Mitch Wells single started a Blue Devil rally in the sixth. Josh Ingham moved Wells to second and a ground ball moved him to third before Jake Matuszak broke the scoreless deadlock with a triple off the wall in right.
Brown was just as good following the leadoff single in the third. He set down nine-straight Bulldogs before hitting rough waters in the sixth. He walked freshman Carl Anderson (Sudbury, Mass.) to start the inning and then made an errant throw to first on senior Connor Carignan's (Norwich, Conn.) bunt to put runners on first and second. Junior Adam Claire (Litchfield, Conn.) moved both runners into scoring position and Anderson was able to scamper home on a foul pop out by junior Kevin Brown (Northborough, Mass.). Bryant took the lead on the next pitch as Brown's delivery went to the backstop allowing Carignan to score from third.
CCSU came right back to tie the game in the seventh on a two-out single from Wells. Anthony Turgeon kept the inning alive by beating out a possible double play ball, stole second and then scored as Wells dropped a single into left field. McAvoy walked the next batter and Cohen came on to end the inning with a strikeout.
Cohen walked the tight rope again in the eighth, allowing a two-out double to JP Sportman and intentionally walking Dylan DelaCruz. He was able to get out the jam by inducing a ground ball to third base.
Bryant's hottest hitter over the last two weeks, Carignan started the winning rally in the eighth with a double into the right field corner. After Carignan stole third, the Blue Devils decided to intentionally walk Brown to face Mullen. The rookie laid off two breaking pitches before roping a fastball into the left field corner to break the tie.
The Bulldogs managed just three hits in the contest, while Wells was 3-for-3 for CCSU. McAvoy earned his third-straight no decision, allowing two runs on five hits over 6 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out two. Brown suffered his second loss of the season, allowing three runs (one earned) on just two hits over 7 1/3 innings. He struck out six and walked two.
In the series, Bryant hit .274 as a team. Carignan led the way with a .462 (6-for-13) average, scored a team-high six runs and also drove in four. Mullen finished 5-for-14 with three doubles and four RBI in the four games. Brown led the Bulldogs with six RBI in the series.
Bryant returns to action on Wednesday, April 11 when it travels to Kingston, R.I., to face the University of Rhode Island in a non-conference game. First pitch is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.