Bulldogs claim second NEC regular-season title with sweep of Wagner
SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Seniors Connor Carignan (Norwich, Conn.) and Jamie Skagerlind (Holden, Mass.) propelled the Bryant University baseball team to a sweep of Wagner and the 2012 Northeast Conference Regular Season Championship on Saturday afternoon at Conaty Park.
The Bulldogs (32-21, 23-8 NEC) won game one 3-1 and completed the sweep with a 3-0 victory in game two. The combination of Bryant's victory and game one and Monmouth's loss to Sacred Heart clinched the NEC regular season title, but the Bulldogs made it official with a 3-0 victory and dogpile in game two. The Seahawks (22-32, 15-16 NEC) were eliminated from postseason contention with a loss in game one.
Bryant has now won regular season titles in two of the last three seasons and will play its final game as a reclassifying team on Sunday afternoon. In three years of conference competition, the Bulldogs have posted a 67-27 record.
Known for his speed and defense from the leadoff spot, Carignan fought off several two-strike pitches before drilling his second career home run over the wall in right field to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead in the third.
Wagner was able to battle back and tie the game in the top of the fifth but Carignan sparked a rally in the bottom of the inning. He singled up the middle with one out and then stole second to put himself in scoring position. He was still there with two outs but junior Kevin Brown (Northborough, Mass.) dropped a bloop double into shallow right to make it 2-1. Sophomore Jonathan Scott (Princeton, N.J.) followed with a single through the left side to score Brown and make it 3-1.
The combination of sophomore Craig Schlitter (Guilford, Conn.) and junior Salvatore Lisanti (Bronx, N.Y.) did the rest. Schlitter set down the first 10 Seahawks in order before Jayson Keel singled with one out in the fourth. He hit the next batter but escaped the inning by inducing a fly ball to center and striking out Tommy Higgins.
Wagner finally got to Schlitter in the fifth inning. Bill Murphy doubled to start the inning and Hayden Hunter's RBI single to right-center started a string of three consecutive hits that loaded the bases with one out. With the score now tied, Schlitter bore down and induced a ground ball up the middle that junior Dan Muscatello (Hopkinton, Mass.) turned into an inning-ending 6-3 double play. Lisanti came on in the seventh and struck out two to record his eighth save of the season.
Carignan finished with three hits and fell a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. He also scored two runs. Schlitter allowed just one run on five hits overs six innings and struck out five to even his record to 6-6 on the year.
Sophomore right-hander Joseph Michaud (Milford, Conn.) tossed a three-hit shutout and Skagerlind's three-run home run in the fifth inning provided the difference as the Bulldogs completed the sweep.
A week after throwing his first career complete game, Michaud matched it and then some against the Seahawks. In picking up his eighth win of the season, Michaud walked one and struck out four. He allowed two hits in the second but held Wagner out of the hit column until Eddie Brown singled with two outs in the sixth.
Wagner's Dan Watson matched Michaud over the first five innings but the Bulldogs finally got to him in the sixth. Carignan led off with a single and dropped pop up put two runners on base with one out. Skagerlind then stepped to the plate and drilled an 0-1 pitch over the wall in right for his fifth home run of the year.
Watson tossed a complete game for the Seahawks, allowing just five hits and registering three strikeouts. Skagerlind had two of Bryant's five hits in the game.
The Bulldogs and the Seahawks will conclude their seasons on Sunday with a 1:00 p.m. first pitch. Prior to the game, Bryant will honor its six seniors -- Skagerlind, Carignan, Mike DelPonte, David Soltis, Brian O'Neil and Dan Walsh – in a pregame ceremony.