SMITHFIELD, R.I.— The Sacred Heart University baseball team's comeback attempt was denied by two-out bloop single by James Cilento with the bases loaded in the 11th inning as Bryant took game one of the four-game series, 5-4 on Friday afternoon. The Pioneers (9-21, 4-6 NEC) added two runs in the eighth and tied things up with two outs in the ninth before the Bulldogs (20-14-1, 11-4 NEC) earned the walk-off win two innings later.
Bryant broke through the pitching duel in the fourth as Mickey Jasper roped the one-out triple to right field off senior James Taubl. He later scored on a two-out dribbler by Chris Wright for the 1-0 lead. Bryant extended the lead to 2-0 in the next inning on a RBI single by Ryan Ward. Back-to-back RBI doubles by Gabby Cruz and Tyler Panno brought the score to 4-0.
SHU looked to solve Steven Theetge in the seventh as junior Kyle Oliver and sophomore Stephen Thibault recorded back to back singles to lead off the inning. Both would make their way into scoring position on a double steal but the southpaw was able to escape the jam.
The Pioneers went back at it in the eighth as sophomores Austin Markmann and Elijah Brown recorded a single and a double to put runners in scoring position to lead off the inning. Junior Anthony Capozziello used his speed to beat out the slow roller to short for the RBI to get SHU on the board. Redshirt sophomore Jake Frasca recorded an RBI fielder's choice in the next at-bat to make it 4-2.
Looking to complete the rally SHU got two runners aboard for the third straight inning in the ninth on a single by co-captain PJ DeFilippo and walk from freshman Danny Glendon. Both would advance on a one-out groundout, putting the tying run in scoring position. Sophomore Elijah Brown hit a hard ground ball to short that was mishandled at short as he just beat the throw to first. Defilippo scored from third and freshman Joe Greco who pinch ran for Glendon at second never stopped running beating the throw to the plate from first to tie the game at 4-4.
After two quicks outs in the bottom of the 11th, Bryant recorded a walk and a shallow left field single to put runners at the corners. SHU loaded the bases for the force out before Ciliento blooped off the 1-2 offering from Cooper Thompson into no man's land to drive in the winning run.
The Bulldogs outhit the Pioneers 11-10 on the day. Capozziello and Markmann led SHU with two hits each.
Taubl pitched five and a third in the start for SHU, striking out four while surrendering three earned runs. Sophomore Brendan Coffey, junior Jackson Aldam, and Frasca bridged the Pioneers comeback efforts, allowing just two hits in four and two-thirds innings of relief. Thompson suffered his third loss of the season surrendering the game-winning run.
The Pioneers continue the weekend series with the Bulldogs tomorrow with a doubleheader beginning at 1:00 p.m.