Mullen, Lisanti push Bryant past MU in 12



WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Freshman John Mullen (Walpole, Mass.) ripped a game-winning RBI double in the top of the 12th inning and junior Salvatore Lisanti (Bronx, N.Y.) tossed four scoreless innings of relief to lead the Bryant University baseball team to an enthralling 6-5 victory over Monmouth in the opener of their Northeast Conference series on Friday afternoon at the MU Baseball Field.

Mullen's third game-winning hit of the season gave the Bulldogs (29-18, 20-5 NEC) a one-run lead and Lisanti earned his second victory of the season with a 1-2-3 12th. With the win, Bryant now holds a two-game lead over the Hawks (30-18, 18-7 NEC) for first place in the league standings.

On a day that was billed as the top pitching matchup of the season, neither Bryant ace Peter Kelich (Jackson, N.J.) or Monmouth fire-baller Pat Light figured in the decision. Through eight innings, however, it looked like Light would pick up his first victory over the Bulldogs in three attempts.

Backed by a four-run sixth inning, Light left the game in line for the victory but the Bulldogs rallied from a run down to tie the game in the ninth inning. Freshman Daniel St. George (Shelton, Conn.) led off the inning with a pinch-hit single through the left side and moved to second on a passed ball. Classmate Carl Anderson (Sudbury, Mass.) followed with a sac bunt attempt that the Hawks' catcher threw late to third in an attempt to get St. George. Senior Connor Carignan (Norwich, Conn.) provided the clutch play of the inning as he lofted a fly to left that was deep enough to score St. George from third with the tying run.

 It would be three more innings until either team scored again as both bullpens held. After a leadoff walk to junior Kevin Brown (Northborough, Mass.) in the 12th though, Mullen crushed a 3-1 offering to the wall in left-center that scored Brown all the way from first to give the Bulldogs the 6-5 advantage.

Lisanti did the rest, shaking off a deep drive to left and a liner to third, striking out the final batter of the game to preserve the victory. The right-hander entered after Bryant tied the game in the ninth inning and allowed just one hit in the longest outing of his season. He recorded a 1-2-3 ninth and then left two runners on in the tenth with a fly out and a ground out. Lisanti hit trouble again in the 11th as Monmouth put two runners on with one out but junior Dan Muscatello (Hopkinton, Mass.) fielded a ground ball up the middle, stepped on second and threw to first to complete the inning-ending double play.

Unfazed by the tall right-hander on the mound, the Bulldogs put two runs on the board in the first inning against Light. Muscatello singled through the right side to start the inning and Brown followed with a single of his own through the right side to put runners on the corners. Mullen then followed with a soft chopper to short that took a weird hop passed the shortstop and into shallow left to make it 1-0. The Bulldogs then got help from Light, as he hit seniors Jamie Skagerlind (Holden, Mass.) and Mike DelPonte (Tewksbury, Mass.) back-to-back to force in the second run.

Monmouth cut the lead in half with a run in the fourth. Jake Gronsky reached on an infield single with one out and then moved all the way around to third on consecutive balk calls against Kelich. MU's Danny Avella made it hurt, blooping a single into shallow left field.

Bryant responded right away, plating a pair of runs over the next two innings. Brown led off the fifth with a beautiful bunt down the third base line that was thrown away at first allowing him to advance to second. Mullen moved him to third with a sac bunt and Skagerlind plated him with a sac fly to left field to make it 3-1. Making his first start in nearly two weeks due to a lower body injury, senior David Soltis (Plainville, Conn.) led off the sixth with his first home run of the year down the left field line to make it 4-1. The hit was also the 100th of his career and he is the second Bulldog (DelPonte) in the last week to record a home run as the 100th career hit. 

The Hawks battled all the way back in the sixth, scoring four runs on four hits and a costly Bryant error. Jamie Rosenkranz started the inning with a double to center, moved to third on a single and scored on an Avella single to center. Kelich got a ground ball to third for the first out but Josh Boyd's ground ball to short was misplayed, allowing a second run to score and put runners on second and third. Two batters later, Kyle Perry came through with a two-run single through the left side to make it 5-4 Monmouth.

Kelich lasted six innings and allowed five runs (two earned) on seven hits. Light went six innings and allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits. He walked one and struck out six. Both bullpens pitched well. Freshman Trevor Lacosse (Watervliet, N.Y.) successfully bridged the gap between Kelich and Lisanti with two scoreless innings. He faced a two-on, no out situation in the eighth but got a force out at third for the first out, a fly out for the second out and a strikeout to end the inning. The combination of Stephen Frey, Joe Loiodice, Neil Harm and Adam Yunginger combined to give up to two runs on three hits over six innings of relief for Monmouth.

Brown finished with two hits and three runs and Mullen had two hits and two RBI on the afternoon.

The Bulldogs and Hawks continue their series on Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 1:00 p.m.