DelPonte powers Bulldogs to 8-1 win



SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Senior Mike DelPonte (Tewksbury, Mass.) tied a career-high with two home runs and five RBI and junior Peter Kelich (Jackson, N.J.) tossed a three-hitter as the Bryant University baseball team defeated Fairleigh Dickinson, 8-1, in game one of their Northeast Conference series Friday afternoon at Conaty Park.

The Bulldogs (27-15, 18-3 NEC) have now won seven-straight games and have beaten the Knights (19-20-1, 13-8 NEC) all nine times they have met.

Mired in a 6-for-36 slump, DelPonte broke out in a big way on Friday, belting two home runs and driving in five to lead the Bulldog offense. DelPonte also hit two home runs and drove in five against Mount St. Mary's on March 16. Classmate Jamie Skagerlind (Holden, Mass.) extended his hitting streak to six games with a two-run home run and also scored two runs. Senior Connor Carignan (Norwich, Conn.), freshmen John Mullen (Walpole, Mass.) and Carl Anderson (Sudbury, Mass.) all chipped in two hits for the Bulldogs, with Mullen crossing the plate twice.

The league leader in home runs entering the weekend, the Bulldogs added to it with three long balls against the Knights. DelPonte started the scoring with a solo shot to right field in the second and Skagerlind made it 3-0 with a line drive over the wall in right field in the fourth. DelPonte then capped his day with a mammoth two-run shot to right field that landed on the softball field to make it 8-1 in the bottom of the eighth.

Skagerlind and DelPonte were both apart of Bryant's two-run rally in the sixth as well. Junior Dan Muscatello (Hopkinton, Mass.) singled up the middle to start the inning and Mullen singled through the left side to put runners on first and second. Skagerlind advanced both with a ground ball to first and DelPonte hit the next pitch through the right side to score two runs.

Bryant added to its lead in the seventh inning. Anderson and Carignan collected consecutive singles through the right side and Muscatello scored Anderson with a perfectly placed safety squeeze up the first base line.

The eight runs of support were more than enough for Kelich. The right-hander limited FDU to just one run on three hits, struck out five and needed only 90 pitches to throw his fourth complete game of the year. He is 8-2 on the season, one-win shy of matching his freshman year total of nine. He allowed a one-out single in the first but got out of the inning unscathed by snaring a tricky comebacker that was destined for centerfield. After that he let his defense help him out.

After a throwing error allowed the leadoff batter to reach in the second, Muscatello started an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play and then junior Adam Claire (Litchfield, Conn.) started a 4-6-3 twin-killing in the fourth to snuff out a Knight rally. The Bulldogs turned their third double play of the afternoon in the very next inning, a 6-4-3 double play that ended the game. The double play started a string of seven-straight set down for Kelich over the next two innings before a Kyle Weeks double started the eighth. Weeks would move to third and score the only Knight run on a Pat McClure sac fly. Skagerlind had the highlight play of the day in the sixth inning as he raced over to fence along the first base side, leapt and reached over the fence to make the catch.

The Bulldogs and Knights will play a doubleheader on Saturday with the first pitch scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Prior to the game, Bryant University will officially dedicate Conaty Park with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 12:30 p.m. Parents, friends and family are all welcomed to attend the ceremony.