SMITHFIELD, RI – The Bryant Bulldogs broke a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the ninth inning, scoring off a SHU error to walk off for a 5-4 victory over the Pioneers in game one of a four-game series Friday afternoon at Conaty Field. The Pioneers fall to 7-6 in the NEC this season, while Bryant improves to a conference best 12-1.
Sacred Heart starting pitcher, Kody Kerski (Waterbury, CT) earned a no-decision, allowing four runs in six innings of action. Junior Dan Wertz (Cross River, NY) was hit with the loss, pitching two scoreless innings before allowing the winning run to reach base in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Sacred Heart jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning after loading the bases with no outs. Junior Kenny Byram (Ponte Vedra, FL) led off the game with a walk, followed by back-to-back hit by pitches by Jesus Medina (New York, NY) and Zack Short (Hurley, NY). With the bases juiced, Jayson Sullivan (Charlton, NY) smacked a single up the middle to give SHU a 1-0 lead. The Pioneers added on two more with consecutive sacrifice flies by Matt Charmello (Rossmoor, CA) and Derick Horn (Valatie, NY).
After the rough first inning, Bryant starting pitcher Kevin McAvoy settled down nicely, allowing just one run in seven more innings work. McAvoy seemingly strengthened as the game went on, striking out the side in the eighth.
Bryant cut into the lead in the fourth inning as A.J Zarozny drilled a double to left center field to score John Mullen from first. Mullen led off the inning with an infield single.
SHU answered in the fifth inning as Victor Sorrento (Monroe Township, NJ) smacked a lead-off double to center field. After a sacrifice bunt by freshman Ted Shaw (Southington, CT), Sorrento scored on a Byram fielder's choice.
Center fielder Carl Anderson came up with the next big hit for Bryant, hammering a triple off the wall to score two and bring the Bulldogs within a run. Dan Cellucci and Buck McCarthy scored on the play.
Bryant would then tie the game in the sixth with a sacrifice fly by first baseman Robby Rinn to score Mullen. Mullen singled to center to lead off the inning.
Coming into his third inning of work out of the bullpen, Wertz ran into trouble in the ninth, allowing a lead-off base hit by Rinn. Rinn then moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt by pinch hitter Daniel St. George. Wertz then intentially walked Tom Gavitt, before being replaced by junior right-hander James Cooksey (Norwalk, CT). With two on and one out, Dan Cellucci knocked a grounder to shortstop. In an attempt to get a force out at second base, Zack Short made an errant throw to Shaw to allow Rinn to score and win the game.
Sacred Heart and Bryant will be right back at it tomorrow afternoon for a doubleheader starting at 1:00 pm.