Bulldogs sweep Wagner in NEC doubleheader
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Bolstered by key home runs in the top of the ninth inning in Game 1, the Bryant University softball team started the day off with a nine-inning win before going on to sweep its Saturday afternoon doubleheader against Northeast Conference foe Wagner College by scores of 6-5 and 6-1, respectively, to pick up two key league victories at Wagner Field.
Winners of three straight, the Bulldogs improve to 10-17 on the season and – more importantly – move to an even 3-3 in league play. The Seahawks fall to 10-26 overall with a 3-7 mark in the conference.
The Bulldogs took an early lead in both games and got solid pitching throughout the day, as junior Jennifer Jacob (Deer Park, N.Y.) picked up both wins for the Bulldogs. The Long Islander tossed two scoreless innings in the opener before getting the start in Game 2, in which she limited the Seahawks to one run before classmate Brittany Hart (North Andover, Mass.) came in for the hold in the seventh inning.
Led by two key home runs in the top of the ninth – and three total in the game – the Bulldogs drew first blood on the afternoon by means of a 6-5, nine-inning victory over the Seahawks in the first game of the day.
Two different sophomores combined for five hits, as Aubrey Mable (Aurora, Colo.) and Lauren Guy (La Habra, Calif.) both launched solo shots – with Mable going yard twice – and drove in 4-of-6 Bryant scores to lead the Bulldogs in the early game. Mable finished the game 3-for-5 with three runs scored, while Guy garnered two hits and scored once for the Black and Gold.
Bryant wasted little time taking the early advantage in the first contest, as sophomore Kendall Corder (Carmichael, Calif.) smashed a two-RBI base hit to center to give the Bulldogs the 2-0 lead after their first time at the plate.
Wagner answered with one run in the bottom of the frame to cut the deficit to 2-1. Kristen Matteoni led off the inning with a base hit to right and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Brittany Huss then scored her with a two-out triple to cap off the inning.
But the Bulldogs answered with one more in the top of the second, as junior Christina Eringis (Tewksbury, Mass.) came home on a bloop single by Guy to make it a 3-1 edge for the visitors.
The Seahawks would tie the game after adding a run each in the second and third frame. MacKenzie Alfaro made it a one-run game after doubling to lead off the bottom of the second before eventually coming in to score on a wild pitch. One inning later, an Ashley Olsen single through the left side brought home Kelsey Parker to even the score at 3-3 heading to the fourth.
After a scoreless inning, Mable put the visitors ahead with a one-out solo shot to straightaway center, giving the Bulldogs a 4-3 lead in the top of the fifth that would stand nearly for the rest of the contest. The long ball was Mable's fifth of the season and 10th of her impressive young career.
But the Seahawks notched the tying run in the bottom of the seventh after Parker led off the inning with a double that bounced off right field fence. After moving to third on a groundout, Parker came in to score on a sacrifice fly to send the game to extra innings tied at 4-4.
Both teams would have their chances to end it in the eighth, but both pitchers were up to the task. It wasn't until the top of the ninth that the Bulldog bats came alive by means of the long ball, as both Guy and Mable smashed solo shots to give the visitors a 6-4 edge that they would not relinquish.
Wagner made it interesting in the bottom of the ninth after Taylor Rauscher led it off with a double to right center. Jacob retired Parker on a groundout in the next at-bat, but Huss plated a run with an RBI base hit up the middle to make it a one-run game (6-5). Jacob, however, settled in and retired the next two batters to finish off the Seahawks and secure the nine-inning victory.
Hart finished the opener with four runs allowed on seven hits. The junior struck out three and walked five over six-plus innings of action. Entering the game in a relief role, Jacob finished off the Seahawks in the seventh before staying on to pitch in the eighth and ninth. She picked up the win to improve to 5-12 on the season after yielding one run on three hits in three innings of action.
Wagner starter Samatha Bedker lasted only one inning before being pulled in favor for junior right-hander Judy Betz, who wound up totaling eight innings and took the loss after allowing three runs on six hits while amassing an impressive eight strikeouts and issuing just one walk.
Just like in the opener, Bryant struck first in the late game by means of a two-run inning in the top of the second. With a pair of runners in scoring position, junior Kate Murray (Fitchburg, Mass.) came up with a clutch RBI single to right center to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.
Parker cut the deficit to one with a deep homer to center field off of Jacob in the bottom of the third. But Jacob escaped further damage by fanning Olsen for her first strikeout of the game to end the inning with the Bulldogs still ahead, 2-1.
After the bats had gone quiet for two innings, senior Laura Bowen (Hudson, Mass.) woke them up with a two-RBI double to right center in the top of the fifth to highlight a three-run inning for the visitors. Bowen eventually would score herself on back-to-back wild pitches to increase the Bulldog lead to 5-1.
Bryant would pad its lead with one final run in the top of the seventh, as freshman Madeline Velasquez (Los Angeles, Calif.) led off the frame with a double to left and eventually came in to score on a wild pitch. That score would give the Bulldogs a final 6-1 advantage that would hold as the final margin of victory.
Improving to 6-12 with the win, Jacob tossed six effective innings while striking out two and walking three. Wagner starter Ashley Rollins took the loss after going 4 and 1/3, yielding five runs and five hits while striking out three and walking four. Hart totaled one strikeout in the seventh for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs will continue their five-game stretch away from Smithfield on Tuesday, April 10, as Bryant travels to Albany, N.Y., for a doubleheader against America East foe UAlbany. First pitch between the Bulldogs and Great Danes is slated for 3 p.m.