One day after Bryant broke a 2-2 tie in the ninth to even the series, Ohio State came back to post a 6-4 win in the rubber match.
Twenty-nine days and 18 games have passed since that March 17 setback in Columbus, and the Bulldogs have yet to lose again.
Accounting for a remarkable run, the likes of which the NEC has not seen this Millennium, Bryant has reeled off 18 consecutive victories.
Steve Owens’ Bulldogs will take the nation’s longest active win streak into Stony Brook on Tuesday, April 16, meaning that if Bryant is to continue its tear, it’ll have to do so against a team that made it through to the 2012 NCAA College World Series.
There will be one nationally-ranked team on the field at Stony Brook on Tuesday, but it won’t be the defending America East champion Seawolves.
It’ll be the men wearing Black & Gold.
Becoming the first team in Northeast Conference history to accomplish the feat, Bryant cracked the Collegiate Baseball News National Top 30 Poll this week.
The No. 30 team in America has yet to lose at home (13-0) this season and currently sits atop the NEC standings with an unblemished 12-0 league record.
But how is this private school from Rhode Island, a place not known for its baseball-friendly clime, doing it?
For those who have followed Bryant’s transition from the Division II ranks into the Division I Northeast Conference, the Bulldogs’ current success should not come as a surprise.
Although they did not gain postseason eligibility until the current 2013 campaign, Bryant began competition in the NEC for the 2010 season and the Bulldogs immediately established themselves as a force to be reckoned with. They went 33-21 during that maiden voyage, including a 24-8 league record that landed them the NEC regular season championship.
They won 30 games overall in 2011 and settled for a fourth-place finish before returning to the top of the NEC standings in 2012.
Currently owning a 23-9-1 record, Bryant is on track for its fourth consecutive 30-win season as a NEC member.
While the Bulldogs’ lineup has its share of mashers led by decorated senior Kevin Brown, the common denominator of the past four seasons has been Bryant’s PITCHING.
Proving the old baseball adage to be accurate, the Bulldogs had the lowest team batting average in the NEC last season, but still won the regular season conference crown thanks to the strength of their arms.
Bryant topped the NEC in team ERA (3.05) last year, as was the case two years prior when the Bulldogs captured the 2010 league title.
The Bulldogs’ rotation of Peter Kelich, Kevin McAvoy, Craig Schlitter, John Healy and Joe Michaud have been awesome thus far in 2013, and the bullpen, which is anchored by Sal Lisanti and Trevor Lacosse, has been equally as brilliant.
The unit once again leads the NEC in team ERA (2.86). With its staff pitching to a 2.30 ERA during the 18-game win streak, the Bulldogs have allowed four runs or more on just three occasions and have scored in double-digits six times.
Bryant has posted non-conference victories over Boston College (ACC), Brown (Ivy) and Rhode Island (Atlantic 10) during the course of the streak and hopes to add an America East member to that list come Tuesday.
“We don’t want the streak to end, so we are going to keep battling every time we get behind,” said Schlitter who captured the NEC Pitcher of the Week award for his one-hit complete-game shutout of Quinnipiac on April 14.
“It all has to do with luck and big hits at the right time. We are playing really well right now.”
As for what’s next?
“We are trying to be the Stony Brook of this year,” said Schlitter.
Senior Kevin Brown, who is a former NECBL Summer All-Star, is hitting .491 (27-for-55) with six doubles, two triples, three home runs, 24 RBI and 22 runs scored over Bryant’s current 18-game winning streak. Brown has walked 22 times and struck out just thrice since March 17.
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