Bulldogs split behind McAvoy's gem



SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Freshman Kevin McAvoy (Syracuse, N.Y.) allowed just one run on five hits over a career-high eight innings to help the Bryant University baseball team salvage a weekend split with a 5-1 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday afternoon at Conaty Park.

After dropping a pair of games on Saturday to the Knights (21-21-1, 15-9 NEC), McAvoy put together his best collegiate outing to lead the Bulldogs (28-17, 19-5 NEC) to a series split. Thanks to the win and LIU Brooklyn's 6-3 victory over Monmouth on Sunday, the Bulldogs regain a one-game lead in the league standings heading into next weekend's four-game series in West Long Branch, N.J.

McAvoy was dominant from the beginning in earning his fourth victory of the season. After allowing a leadoff single to start the game, the rookie right-hander would face the minimum over the next five innings. He set down the next three batters in the first, retired the side in order in the second and then erased a two-out single from Matt Holsman in the third by picking him off at first. He then set down the six hitters before allowing a leadoff single to Patrick McClure to start the sixth.

McClure's single started FDU's biggest rally of the game as a fielding error put two runners on and a sac bunt put both runners in scoring position. McAvoy battled back to strike out Jordan Ritz looking before intentionally walking Ryan Kresky to load the bases. He got out of the inning by knocking down a comebacker from Eric Anderson and flipping to first.

The exciting escape by McAvoy in the sixth preserved a 1-0 Bryant lead and gave the Bulldogs momentum heading into the bottom of the inning. Senior Jamie Skagerlind (Holden, Mass.) worked a leadoff walk and moved to second on a sac bunt but was still standing there with two outs when freshman Daniel St. George (Shelton, Conn.) stepped to the plate. St. George came through, knocking a first pitch through the left side that sent Skagerlind chugging home from second just ahead of the throw to make it 2-0. The single started a string of three consecutive RBI singles to push the lead it 4-0. Freshman Carl Anderson (Sudbury, Mass.) scored St. George with a single up the middle, stole second and then scored on junior Adam Claire's (Litchfield, Conn.) single through the left side.

FDU finally got to McAvoy in the eighth inning. A hit by pitch and a single put two runners on with one out and Kresky dribbled a single through the right side that scored Shane Seibler from second. McAvoy escaped further damage by inducing an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Bryant would tack on its final run in the bottom of the eighth thanks to a wild pitch. Senior Mike DelPonte (Tewksbury, Mass.) reached on a dropped pop fly to start the inning and scored on a wild pitch two batters later to make it 5-1.

The Bulldogs grabbed the early 1-0 lead thanks to a double from junior Kevin Brown (Northborough, Mass.). Anderson walked to start the inning, moved to second on a sac bunt, to third on a wild pitch and scored as Brown laced a double into the right-field corner.

Holding a four-run lead in the ninth, the Bulldogs summoned junior Salvatore Lisanti (Bronx, N.Y.) and the right-hander struck out the side on 10 pitches. Offensively, Claire, Brown and DelPonte all had two hits on the afternoon and Anderson scored a pair of runs.

Bryant will finish the non-conference portion of its schedule when it hosts Siena on Tuesday, May 1 at Conaty Park. The Bulldogs and Saints will get underway with a 4:00 p.m. first pitch.