SMITHFIELD, R.I. – James Taubl's second consecutive complete game led the Sacred Heart baseball team to a crucial 3-1 win at Northeast Conference leaders Bryant and also gave Head Coach Nick Giaquinto his 600th career victory in the opening game of a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon at Conaty Park. The win snapped the longest win streak in the country at 11 and brought the Pioneers within one and a half games of Bryant in the standings.
The Bulldogs would come back to take game two 6-3 though, reestablishing the two and a half game lead as they improve to 15-2 in NEC play and 32-8 overall, while SHU falls to 22-18 and 13-5 in the league.
Sacred Heart looks for a split tomorrow when the two teams conclude their series in a game that has been moved from 1 pm to 11 am.
With the game tied at one, Jesus Medina's 200th career hit in the top of the sixth turned out to be the eventual game-winner. Following the leadoff batter flying out, he was the third Pioneer in a stretch of five straight hitters to reach base, which began with Victor Sorrento's single. Dan Schock followed that with a walk to put runners on first and second for Medina, who became the eighth player in program history to reach the milestone mark, joining teammate Jayson Sullivan who did it on April 10.
Sacred Heart was not done there, as Jake Friar doubled the lead with a double down the third base line. The Pioneers could have broken it open after Bryant decided to intentionally walk PJ DeFilippo to load the bases, but James Davitt kept the Bulldogs in the game by retiring the next two to come to the plate.
Thankfully for SHU, this did not turn out to cost them as Taubl continued his remarkable stretch. Although his streak of 35.2 innings without giving up an earned run was snapped with a Buck McCarthy sacrifice fly in the fourth, it ends as the second longest in the nation this season.
Going the distance for his second consecutive complete game, something he had not accomplished before doing so last weekend, the sophomore lowered his NEC-leading ERA to 1.41. He gave up five hits and walked three in the seven innings, and in perhaps the most pivotal moment in the game, got out of a bases loaded jam with no outs in the fifth. Facing the situation in large part due to an error, he got the first out on a foul out before keeping the game tied with an inning ending double play ball.
For the second straight game, Sacred Heart outhit a talented Bryant lineup, nearly doubling up the Bulldogs, 9-5. Sorrento, DeFilippo and Friar each had two hits, with Sorrento also scoring twice and DeFilippo adding a walk and RBI.
The three also played a part in the opening run of the afternoon in the second. Sorrento's leadoff single seemed as if it would lead to nothing when the next two batters were both retried, but Friar kept the frame alive with a two-out single and DeFilippo followed that with one of his own to put the Pioneers on the board.
For the second game in a row Bryant did not have a single player record multiple hits. Malik Daley was 1-2 with a walk, Nick Angelini added a hit and scored the Bulldogs' lone run, and Albanese walked twice.
On the mound, Davitt went the distance by working around the nine hits and two walks to surrender just the three earned.
The Bryant bats finally came alive with 11 hits in game two of the doubleheader and on the mound Steve Theetge went the distance and did not allow an earned run until Alex Perry's solo home run with one out in the seventh. That was the sixth hit he gave up as he improved to a perfect 5-0. He struck out six.
By that time the game was well in hand as Bryant jumped on Sacred Heart with an unearned run in the first and three more runs in the third. Matt Albanese immediately followed the first inning error with an RBI single that scored Angelini, who had singled with one out. Game two starter Medina did well to get the next two outs to strand two but could not escape the trouble in the third.
It all started with Rinn's one out walk, which was followed by back-to-back-to-back singles by Albanese, McCarthy and Mickey Gasper to make the score 3-0. Following a strikeout for the second out, Zach Wood capped the frame with a fourth single to push the advantage to four.
SHU did cut the deficit in half in the next at bat thanks to two Bryant errors. The first one came when Schock followed Sorrento's one-out double with a single. An errant throw home allowed Sorrento to come in for the Pioneers first run. The second error came on yet another throwing error, this one with two outs, permitting Schock to make it a 4-2 game.
Bryant did not allow Sacred Heart to keep the momentum though, immediately coming back with two runs of its own to reestablish the four-run lead. The first four Bulldogs to come to the plate all reached, starting with Cole Fabio's leadoff single. That knocked out Medina out of the game, and the first two hitters to face reliever Baylor Sundahl, Angelini and Rinn, singled, the first one driving in Fabio. Following an Albanese base on balls, McCarthy recorded his second sacrifice fly of the day to bring the advantage to four again. Sundahl kept it at that thanks to a double play in the next at bat.
SHU would not get another runner into scoring position until Perry's home run though and Bryant would earn the split, with Fabio, Angelini and Albanese all collecting two base knocks. Angelini also scored twice and Albanese had the walk as eight of the nine Bulldog starters had at least one hit.
Going 1-2 with a walk, DeFilippo was the lone Pioneer to reach twice as he finished the doubleheader 3-4 with two walks. Sorrento and Friar also had a hit each in the nightcap to finish with three on the day. Perry's home run was his second of the season.
Medina surrendered eight hits in his three innings of work. Four of the five runs to come in on him were counted as earned. After giving up hits to the first two batters he faced, Sundahl closed out his three frames allowing just one more.