Blackbirds sweep Bulldogs Sunday

Blackbirds sweep Bulldogs in NEC doubleheader

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University softball team fell in a pair of NEC bouts against league foe LIU Brooklyn on Sunday, as the Blackbirds smashed an astounding nine home runs over the course of the doubleheader to prevail by 18-4 and 6-3 scores at the Bryant Softball Complex at Conaty Park.

The Bulldogs move to 7-17 on the season with a 1-3 record in NEC action, as the Blackbirds pick up two wins to improve to 11-28 on the year with an even 3-3 mark in league play.

One day after splitting against Mount St. Mary's, the Bulldogs combined for only seven runs on Sunday while the Blackbirds smashed 23 hits in the opener before pulling away in the late innings in Game 2 to secure the sweep.

Freshmen Madeline Velasquez (Los Angeles, Calif.) led all Bulldogs with three hits on the day and drove in a run while scoring twice. Sophomore Kendall Corder (Carmichael, Calif.) notched a pair of base hits in the first game while freshman Karli Theleman (Lisle, N.Y.) did likewise in the second contest.

—Game 1—

The Bulldogs took the early lead in the bottom of the second after sophomore Taylor Bell (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) struck a two-RBI double just beyond the reach of the left fielder to score a pair. Both Velasquez (leadoff double) and Corder (single up the middle) came home on the play to propel the Bulldogs to a 2-0 advantage.

But the Blackbirds responded moments later by means of a five-run inning in the top of the third. Karina Cervantes led off the inning with a single to center before moving to second on a hit by pitch. With runners at first and second, Nichole Toven smashed a three-run homer over the left field fence to put the visitors ahead, 3-2.

That was just the beginning of a five-hit inning, as Madison Zymkowitz walked in the first at-bat following the home run and moved to second on a sacrifice. Three consecutive base hits would follow to run up the LIU lead to 5-2 before the Bulldogs got out of the inning.

Bryant got back in the game in the bottom of the third with two more runs, as Aubrey Mable (Aurora, Colo.), Velasquez and Corder each recorded two-out hits to plate a pair. Mable nearly left the yard on a deep double to center and Velasquez brought her home by singling to right. Corder then rounded out the group with another double to center to score Velasquez, and that prompted the Blackbirds to bring in Cassie Vondrak to relieve Sarah Reynolds.

LIU promptly answered with another big inning in the fourth, as Paris Shipp led it off with a solo shot to left to start the frame. Jazmin Rodriguez did further damage with a three-run bomb to right center to cap off a four-run inning, as the Blackbirds took a 9-4 lead after three and a half innings.

Following a scoreless inning, the Blackbirds put the opener out of reach with a nine-run sixth inning that saw 10 hits – including four home runs – to make it a 14-run advantage (18-4). Needing seven runs to extend the game, the Bulldogs went down in order in the bottom of the sixth, as LIU secured Game 1 by a mercy-rule decision.

Vondrak notched the win after coming in to pitch 3 and 1/3 strong innings in relief, limiting the Bulldogs to just two hits the rest of the way after entering in the third. Jennifer Jacob (Deer Park, N.Y.) was charged with the loss for the Bulldogs.

—Game 2—

The Blackbirds kept the home run parade going in the late game after Nicole Archer went yard with a one-out solo shot in the top of the second, handing the visitors an early 1-0 lead after an inning and a half.

LIU increased the lead in the top of the third after Shipp singled and Toven walked to start the frame. Jacob erased some of the damage by snagging a popup bunt attempt and doubled off the runner at first on the play, but Sterling Hoham drove in a run with a single to left, as Shipp managed to beat the throw from the outfield to push the Blackbirds ahead 2-0.

Two batters later, Emily Kakuska smashed a double to deep left, and the extra-base hit was just enough to drive in two more runs, as Rodriguez and Hoham both came in to score on the play, and the visitors went up by a 4-0 advantage.

But the Bulldogs answered in the bottom of the fourth to cut the deficit to one, as freshman Jessica Benacquista (Belleville, N.J.) sent her first career home run over the left field fence to bring the Bulldogs to within one, 4-3. Christina Eringis (Tewksbury, Mass.) (single up the middle) and Theleman (infield single) also scored on the blast.

But after a scoreless frame, LIU added insurance in the top of the fifth on another two-run home run from Archer. With a runner at first, Archer pelted another bomb that cleared the left field wall while handing the Blackbirds a 6-3 advantage that it would never relinquish.

Vondrak went the distance in the late game while finishing with eight hits and three runs allowed. Jacob rebounded with a stronger second game while striking out three and yielding three walks and six runs on seven hits. Brittany Hart (North Andover, Mass.) tossed a scoreless seventh inning and added a pair of strikeouts in the frame.

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The Bulldogs return to work on Wednesday, April 4, when they make the short trip to Boston University for a single-game showdown at 4 p.m.

For continuing coverage of Bryant University softball, check back online at www.bryantbulldogs.com; also follow the Bulldogs on Twitter @BryantAthletics.

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