By Robert Held
The Central Connecticut State University, Baseball team lost their first game in the Northeast Conference Tournament. Despite being the visiting team, it felt like a home game for the Central Connecticut State University baseball team on Thursday. The game took place at Dodd Stadium, in Norwich, this was Central’s first game of the Northeast Conference Tournament against Bryant University.
Unfortunately, the home team atmosphere did not bring Central any luck, as the Blue Devils lost to Bryant by a score of 8-1. Central had a large task facing them, since Bryant was the Northeast Conference regular season champion with an overall record of 45-10 including a record of 25-4 in conference. It’s not all bad news for Central however, because the tournament is double elimination. Therefore, the Blue Devils will take on the loser of the Fairleigh Dickinson vs. Sacred Heart game, at noon on Friday in a elimination game at Dodd Stadium.
The Bryant Bulldogs jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after New England Player of the Year, Robby Rinn, hit a sacrifice fly that allowed Nick Angelini to score from third.
Central had several opportunities to score early, but could not capitalize. In the top of the second, the Blue Devils had the bases loaded with two outs after senior Connor Fitzsimons singled and sophomore John Lippincott and junior Nick Landell drew back to back walks. Bulldogs starting pitcher James Karinchak was able to get Central’s Franklin Jennings to ground back to him to record the final out of the inning.
Bryant increased the lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the inning after Mickey Gasper drove in AJ Zarozny with a double.
The score remained that way until the bottom of the fifth when the Bulldogs added three more runs. First, Buck McCarthy hit a two- run home run. Then, consecutive singles by Brandon Bingel and Zarozny, along with a walk to Gasper loaded the bases. Zach Wood then hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring Bingel to make the score 5-0.
Central had their best chance to comeback during the top of the sixth inning. The Blue Devils had runners on second and third with no outs, but Matt Martinez and Nick Landell struck out and Jennings popped out to the first baseman to end the inning.
It was a dominant start for Karinchak. At one point, he retired 13 out of 14 Central batters in a row. Karinchak pitched 7.0 innings allowing three hits, three walks and striking out seven while picking up the win.
Things only got worse for Central, as the Bulldogs added one run in the seventh, and two in the eighth to make the score 8-0.
After nearly being shut out, Central finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the ninth. With two outs, freshman David Balunek got a pinch hit single to score pinch runner Chandler Debrosse.
Central starting pitcher Andrew Hinckley had a rough afternoon going 6.1 innings, while allowing six runs, four walks and striking out three. He was also the losing pitcher.
Overall, the loss brings Centrals record to 23-33. The Blue Devils look to bounce back on Friday in the loser’s bracket. For those interested, Friday’s game will be streamed live on NECFrontRow.com at noon.