The Blue Devils fell to Bryant in an exciting nine-inning match up on day two of the 2014 NEC Tournament in Smithfield, RI on Friday by a score of 3-2. With the loss, CCSU falls to 29-15 on the season and will play again Friday at approximately 3:30 p.m. in hopes of making it to Saturday's championship game.
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The Bulldogs, who entered the tournament as the #1 seed, improve to 31-20 on the season and automatically advance to Saturday's championship game with the win.
NEC Pitcher of the Year Laura Messina pitched 8.1 innings for CCSU, allowing just six hits and two earned runs. She struck out nine batters in the loss lifting her season total to 259. Messina's record drops to 24-12 with the loss.
The Blue Devils put the first run on the board in the top of the third. Kat Malcolm singled to the shortstop to reach base and capitalized on a Bulldog error to score after sophomore Hannah Cooper put the ball into play on a hit to the Bryant third baseman.
In the top of the fifth, senior Arielle Bruno blasted a solo homer, her fifth of the season, over the left-field fence to make it 2-0.
Bryant responded however, on a two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth to even the score. The Bulldogs scored two runs on three singles followed by another single to left, which sophomore Evie Rentzel rocketed back to classmate Hannah Cooper at home to prevent the winning run and ultimately send the squads into extra innings.
The Blue Devils nearly scored the lead run in the top of the ninth on a two-out play involving a run down of Rentzel at first base. During the pick-off attempt, Bruno, who was on second, rounded the bases to score before the umpires made a close call to end the half-inning, calling Rentzel out at first.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Bulldogs loaded the bases with just one out. Bryant's Hayley Bottino hit one straight to CCSU third-baseman Alexis Debrosse, who turned it for the force out at home. A dropped ball at home plate allowed the runner to score for the 3-2 win.
The Blue Devils tallied eight hits in the game, including a double from junior Ashley Black and Bruno's homer. Bryant posted just six hits while Bulldog pitcher Elle Madsen totaled four strikeouts. Both squads committed two errors on the day, the last of which allowed the winning run.
CCSU is scheduled to play again in the tournament's second elimination game at approximately 3:30 p.m. Central will play the winner of the LIU Brooklyn vs. Fairleigh Dickinson game, which was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. before getting pushed back for CCSU's extra-inning game vs. Bryant.
The winner of CCSU's game at 3:30 p.m. earns a trip to the championship game on Saturday to face Bryant. If the Blue Devils advance to Saturday's game, CCSU will have to win twice to take the championship.
For more information about the 2014 NEC Championships, visit the NEC Championship Headquarters page.