Bryant defeats Monmouth in longest D-I baseball game ever

The Liberty University Baseball team hosts Bryant on March 1, 2015. (Photo by Joel Coleman)

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Sophomore Mickey Gasper broke a 4-4 deadlock with a three-run double in the top of the 17th inning as the Bryant University baseball team defeated Monmouth, 8-4, in the longest game in Division I program history Saturday night in Cary, N.C., at the USA Baseball Complex.

The Bulldogs improve to 3-0 for the first time in DI history and have now defeated the Hawks (1-2) in each of the last six meetings. The game was also the longest game as far as time in program history.

In game two of a doubleheader, the two teams played scoreless baseball for nine innings after the Black and Gold tied the game in the seventh. Bryant finally broke the tie in the 17th as junior Brandon Bingel (Peabody, Mass.) and senior AJ Zarozny (Shrewsbury, Mass.) singled to open the inning. Freshman Tyler Panno (Rivervale, N.J.) advanced them with a sac bunt and senior Dan Cellucci (Sudbury, Mass.) was intentionally walked to load the bases for Gasper. The sophomore catcher delivered, ripping a 1-0 pitch into the right-center gap to clear the bases and break the tie. Junior Cole Fabio (Mahwah, N.J.) tacked on an insurance run with a two-out RBI single to short.

The Bulldogs trailed 4-2 after five innings but rallied to tie the game with single runs in the sixth and the seventh innings. Zarozny walked with one out in the sixth, advanced to second on an errant pickoff throw and scored on a two-out pinch-hit single by classmate Buck McCarthy (Saugus, Mass.).

In the seventh, junior Joe Paparelli (Preston, Conn.) and Fabio walked before senior Robby Rinn (Warwick, R.I.) singled to load the bases with one out. Bingel delivered the tying run with an RBI groundout but the Bulldogs missed out on more as they left the bases loaded.

From that point on, however, the two teams could not push across a run. Bryant received outstanding relief from rookies Craig Lacey (Westfield, Mass.), Matt Knych (Manville, R.I.), Mason Palmieri (Lincoln, R.I.) and Garrett Hayward (Glendale, R.I.). Lacey tossed 1 2/3 innings, Knych recorded an out, Palmieri tossed 1 2/3 and Hayward recorded two outs. Senior Michael Marshall (Maynard, Mass.) then got the Bulldogs out of a jam in the ninth, covering home to tag out the potential winning run on a ball in the dirt.

Marshall last 1 1/3 innings before handing the ball to sophomore Ross Weiner (Woodbridge, Conn.) who tossed four scoreless innings of relief. He allowed three hits, walked four and struck out two. Classmate Ryan Johnson (East Falmouth, Mass.) recorded two outs in the 16th before handing the ball to redshirt junior Oliver Powers (Newtown, Conn.) for his second appearance of the day. Powers tossed the final 2 1/3 innings to earn his first-career victory.

The Bulldogs opened up the scoring in game two, scoring single runs in the second and third. Senior Daniel Palazzo (Rocky Hill, Conn.) and Paparelli hit back-to-back two-out doubles in the second to give Bryant its first run. In the third, junior Matt Albanese (East Haddam, Conn.) singled, stole second and scored on a two-out error to make it 2-0.

Monmouth, however, responded with the next four runs. Dan Shea opened the fourth with a walk, moved to second and scored on a two-out double from Pete Papcun. The Hawks then added three runs in the fifth to take the lead. A walk and a single put two on before Shaine Hughes doubled to right field to tie the game. Shea followed with a two-run single to make it 4-2.

Freshman Steve Theetge (Cicero, N.Y.) made his first career start for the Black and Gold, allowing four runs on six hits over 4.2 innings. He walked two and struck out three. Bryant’s bullpen tossed 12 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, striking out nine and allowing just seven hits. Rinn, Zarozny and Cellucci all finished the game with two hits and Zarozny added a pair of runs scored.

Ricky Dennis started for Monmouth and pitched the first six innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Jordan McCrum and Joe Molettiere each tossed four innings of one-hit relief to keep the game tied in extra innings. Ben Hoffman suffered the loss, allowing four runs on four hits in the 17th.

The Hawks had their best chance to win the game in the 14th inning but had the potential winning run cut down at home plate. Gaetano singled to center and Albanese fielded the hit and threw a strike to the plate to nab Christian Holland trying to score.

Bryant will wrap up its weekend on Sunday against Penn St. First pitch against the Nittany Lions is scheduled for 10:00 a.m.

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