The Quinnipiac baseball team faced quite the challenge on Friday afternoon as it welcomed Bryant University to Hamden for a doubleheader. The Bulldogs (23-15) clobbered the Bobcats (6-30) in the first game of the afternoon, 11-5, but needed extra innings to sneak by Quinnipiac in their second matchup.
While offense dominated game one of the series, pitching quickly became the story of the afternoon.
Both teams’ starters carried shutouts through seven innings of game 2. Bobcats’ starter Spencer Kane (3-4) carried a two-hit shutout into extra innings.
“He went inning to inning and pitch to pitch. He was outstanding,” Quinnipiac manager Dan Gooley said.
It was not until the eighth inning that Kane blinked.
With one out in the inning, Bryant center fielder Connor Carignan hit a single to center field and promptly stole second base during the next at-bat. Carignan advanced to third base on a line-drive to right field and sat just 90 feet away from being the potential game-winning run.
Quinnipiac opted to intentionally walk right fielder Kevin Brown, bringing freshman third baseman John Mullen to the plate. The nerves did not get to the young infielder, as he came through for his teammates.
Mullen laced a 1-1 pitch right over Quinnipiac shortstop, Scott Donaghue’s outstretched glove. The hit broke a scoreless tie and proved to be the difference.
“I’m just thinking to myself, ‘try to get a good pitch to swing at,’ and I did,” Mullen said. “I got a fastball and was able to drive it into the gap.”
Despite his youth, Mullen looked like a seasoned veteran in the batters’ box with the game on the line. He manipulated the count until he found the pitch he was looking for.
“The first pitch was a ball, and then I got the called strike on me so I was sitting fastball, and [Kane] threw one,” Mullen said. “I was able to drive it.”
Bryant closer Salvatore Lisanti sat the Bobcats down in order in the bottom of the eighth inning, sealing the second game of the doubleheader 1-0 for the Bulldogs.
Kane threw over 100 pitches in the losing effort, but Gooley was sure his starter was never tired.
“He didn’t do anything to warrant making a change,” Gooley said. “A kid got a base hit to beat him in the eighth inning, that’s baseball.”
Bryant starter Craig Schlitter recorded the narrow victory thanks to seven shutout innings of four-hit baseball.
“The mound was a little tough to work with, but I got through it,” Schlitter said. “I got ahead with the curveball and then worked in the fastball.”
Bryant entered the day with sole possession of first place in the Northeast Conference, while the Bobcats where stuck in the basement, tied with Mount St. Mary’s for eighth in the conference. The standings remained intact as Bryant swept the afternoon.
While Quinnipiac didn’t contend in the series opener, they were more than up to the challenge in game 2. Despite the tough-to-swallow loss the team can go into the rest of the weekend with some confidence.
“Nobody likes to study for four hours to take an exam and fail it,” Gooley said. “I just talk to them about the value of winning and losing. Sometimes the smallest things make the biggest differences.”
Gooley was pleased to see his team bounce back from a difficult start to the afternoon.
Quinnipiac dropped the first game of the afternoon, falling, 11-5, in a nine-inning contest. The Bulldogs tagged Quinnipiac starter Derek Lamacchia (1-6) for nine runs in just over four innings of work, including a three-run home run from left fielder Carl Anderson in the top of the fifth inning.
Bryant starter Peter Kelich (7-2) lasted seven innings, surrendering four runs to the Bobcats on nine hits. The Bulldogs struck first with three runs in the third inning and led comfortably for the remainder of the contest. Bryant carried a 9-2 lead into the seventh and withstood a brief Bobcats’ rally en route to an easy victory in the top half of the doubleheader.