Around the Bases: Bryant Bulldogs Set to Em-Bark on Historic Weekend

Bryant is only four games away.

The Bulldogs are 1.0 game up on Monmouth for first place in the NEC Baseball standings with four games remaining on the regular season schedule.

Bryant’s next four games could yield the program’s second regular season title in the last three years, but at the very least, the final four games of the 2012 season will put an end to four years of waiting.

Bryant joined the Northeast Conference’s ranks back in 2008, trading its Division II status for NCAA Division I membership, but not without a short-term cost.

As all NCAA members reclassifying from Division II to Division I must do, Bryant had to endure a four-year wait.  The Bulldogs had to complete a mandated four-year reclassification process before becoming eligible to compete for a NCAA Division I national championship.

Over the last four years, the Northeast Conference has done everything in its power to make the Bulldogs feel at home in their new digs.  Helping ease the transition, the NEC immediately plugged Bryant into its conference schedules across the board. For the last three academic years, the Bulldogs have participated in all of the league’s general and sport-specific awards programs.

Still, Bryant remained ineligible for NEC postseason play as per its NCAA reclassifying status.

Four games from now, however, that reclassification process will finally be completed as the last of the school’s spring sports teams closes out the 2012 season.

No matter what happens over these final four games, the Bulldogs will have to wait until 2013 for a possible NEC Tournament debut.  Still, these next four games hold a heavy importance for Bryant baseball.

Just ask senior Jamie Skagerlind.

The Bulldogs’ first baseman, and latest member of the 200-hit club, had one thing on his mind during a post-game interview on Sunday, May 6.

Disappointed after a loss in the finale made Bryant settle for a series split with Monmouth, Skagerlind attempted to put the situation in perspective.

“We still control our own destiny in terms of winning the conference, which is the only goal left that we can achieve and we’re really striving for it.”

While Skagerlind and Co. will be striving for first, their opponent will be fighting for its postseason life.  Wagner is 1.0 game out of the final playoff spot as it heads to Smithfield.

The Bulldogs (21-7) have won exactly 75 percent of their NEC games in 2012 and can guarantee themselves at least a tie for first place (regardless of what happens in Monmouth’s series with Sacred Heart) by taking three out of four from Wagner this weekend.

Such a result would certainly be a nice send-off, and not just for the team’s seniors like Skagerlind.

It would be a good way to send Bryant’s entire baseball program into a potentially bright future as a full Division I member.

Dean’s List Growing
Monmouth clinched a spot in the NEC Tournament by earning a split in last week’s series with Bryant.  The postseason berth is just another bullet point on a long list of achievements for the program under long-time skipper Dean Ehehalt.  In 18-plus seasons at Monmouth, Ehehalt has amassed 518 victories and seven NEC regular season crowns.  In what will be the team’s 16 NEC Tournament appearance under Ehehalt, the Hawks will be looking to lock up their first NCAA appearance since 2009.

Kelich, Light Are Still League Leaders
Staff aces Pat Light (Monmouth) and Peter Kelich (Bryant) were both chased from their latest starts after six innings. They only surrendered five earned runs between them, but it was uncharacteristic outing for both men.  Light struck out six and only walked one but hit three batters.  Kelich surrendered seven hits and balked twice. Still, both men remained amongst the NEC’s top-5 ERA leaders.  Kelich entered the final week of NEC regular season play at 8-2 with a league-low 1.88 ERA. Light is 7-3 with a 2.81 ERA, but his most-impressive credential, other than his mid-90s fastball, may be his 0.98 WHIP. Light, who has struck out a conference-high 87 batters, has issued only 12 bases on balls.

Small Bites
After throwing 4.0 innings of one-hit relief in Bryant’s 12-inning triumph over Monmouth on May 4, sophomore Sal Lisanti earned recognition from College Baseball 360 as a “Primetime Performer.” Lisanti, who has appeared in 23 games out of the bullpen, owns a 1.67 ERA and has seven saves this season. Read more. … With Ocean State rival Rhode Island atop the rankings, Bryant found itself second in the latest edition of the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association Coaches Poll. Read more.

 

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