BULLDOGS SWEEP PIONEERS, STRETCH STREAK TO EIGHT
SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Senior Jamie Skagerlind (Holden, Mass.) broke a 2-2 tie with a solo home run in the bottom of sixth inning in game one and freshman John Mullen (Walpole, Mass.) had three hits and three RBI in game two as the Bryant University baseball team swept Sacred Heart, 3-2 and 10-4, Saturday afternoon in a Northeast Conference doubleheader at Conaty Park.
The Bulldogs (20-14, 13-2 NEC) have won each of the first three games against the Pioneers (10-23, 7-8 NEC) and now have won eight-straight conference games.
With two outs and the game tied 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth, Skagerlind laced the first pitch from SHU starter Troy Scribner over the wall in right field for his first home run of the season.
The Pioneers attempted to rally in the seventh as Billy McDonough chased Bryant starter Craig Schlitter (Guilford, Conn.) with a leadoff single. Salvatore Lisanti (Bronx, N.Y.) was summoned from the bullpen and retired the next three batters to leave the tying run at third base. It secured Schlitter's fourth win of the season and it was Lisanti's sixth save.
Sacred Heart jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third inning with three hits off Schlitter. Rocco Gondek started the inning with a bloop single, moved to second on a sac bunt and then scored on a Keaton Flint single up the middle. Hunter Phillips followed with a double into the left field corner to score Flint.
Held to just one hit over the first three innings, the Bulldogs finally broke through against Scribner in the fourth. David Soltis (Plainville, Conn.) started the inning with an infield single and Mike DelPonte (Tewksbury, Mass.) lofted a 2-2 pitch over the right field wall for a game-tying two-run home run.
Following the rough third inning, Schlitter rebounded to keep the Pioneers quiet over the next three innings. He retired the side in order in both the fourth and fifth innings and then worked around a bases loaded jam in the sixth. He issued his only two walks of the game to load the bases and then recovered to strikeout the next batter and got a fly out to center to end the inning. Schlitter lasted six innings, allowing two runs on five hits with five strikeouts.
Mullen and Connor Carignan (Norwich, Conn.) combined for six hits, five RBI and four runs scored as the Bulldogs erased a first-inning deficit with 10 runs over the next five innings.
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the first, Carignan started the Bulldog rally with a single up the middle and then beat out the throw to second as Mullen hit a sharp ground ball to third. Carignan would move to third on a Kevin Brown (Northborough, Mass.) fly ball and then scored on a sac fly from DelPonte. Mullen moved to third on a Skagerlind single and would eventually score the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.
Bryant tacked on three more runs in the second inning. Dan Muscatello (Hopkinton, Mass.) started the inning with a single, advanced to second on an error, to third on a Jonathan Scott (Princeton, N.J.) sac bunt and scored on a Carignan infield single with two outs. Mullen got a chance to bat thanks to Carignan's hustle and made the most of it, launching a two-run home run into the student section in left-center field for his third home run of the year.
The Black and Gold put the game away with five runs in the fifth. Brown walked and DelPonte was hit by a pitch to start the inning and then executed a double-steal to get into scoring position. Skagerlind scored Brown with a sac fly and then Joseph Carcone (New Hartford, N.Y.) laid down a beautiful bunt to score DelPonte and make it 7-1. With the inning extended due to an infield error, Matt Zanotta (Schenectady, N.Y.), Carignan and Mullen ripped consecutive RBI hits to make it 10-4. Zanotta and Carignan both singled in runs and Mullen capped the inning with a resounding ground-rule double to dead center.
While the Bulldogs were building a lead, Joseph Michaud (Milford, Conn.) was putting together another strong start. After allowing an unearned run in the first, Michaud settled down to allow just three hits over the next four innings. He left runners on the corners in the second with a fly out, Scott helped him in the third by catching John Murphy trying to steal and he retired the side in order in each of the fourth and fifth innings.
Sacred Heart had its best offensive inning of the series in the sixth, plating three runs on four hits. They chased Michaud with a pair of singles and McDonough and Matt Charmello produced RBI singles to cut the deficit to 10-4.
In earning his fifth win of the season, Michaud allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings. Trevor Lacosse (Watevliet, N.Y.) shut the door by retiring all five batters he faced.
Muscatello joined Carignan and Mullen with multiple hits, collecting two as well as scoring two runs.
The Bulldogs and Pioneers complete their four-game series on Sunday with a 1:00 p.m. first pitch.