McAvoy tosses shutout to help Bryant win first Northeast Conference title
LAKEWOOD, N.J. -- Sophomore right-hander Kevin McAvoy tossed a complete game shutout to lead Bryant to an 8-0 victory against Sacred Heart and its first Northeast Conference championship on Sunday afternoon at FirstEnergy Park.
The Bulldogs (44-16-1) won four consecutive elimination games to claim their first NEC championship and will now await their NCAA tournament destination when the field of 64 is officially announced. Bryant also set the school record for wins in a season with 44 triumphs. The Pioneers (34-24), the back-to-back NEC champs, saw their season come to a close.
Sophomore Jordan Mountford was named the tournament MVP after going 10-for-19 with six RBI, nine runs scored, four doubles and a triple. Joining Mountford on the all-tournament team was sophomore outfielder Carl Anderson, senior third baseman Kevin Brown and McAvoy.
McAvoy tossed his second career complete game, allowing just three hits, to earn his seventh win of the season. He retired 15 batters with ground outs and needed just 94 pitches to complete his gem.
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Bryant wasted no time getting on the board in the championship game, scoring three runs in the first inning. Mountford singled to right to start the game, Brown was hit and sophomore John Mullen walked to load the bases with one out. Anderson was then hit by a pitch to force in the first run, sophomore Daniel St. George scored the second with a fielder's choice ground out and senior Dan Muscatello made it 3-0 with a single to left.
The Bulldogs tacked on two more runs in the third. Brown led off the inning with a monstrous solo home run to right field, his sixth of the season, to make it 4-0. Mullen restarted the inning with a bloop double to left and came around to score on an RBI ground out from Anderson.
Sacred Heart had its chances to get on the board but McAvoy was able to work out of trouble. In the fourth, John Murphy reached on an error and Dan Perez singled to put the first two runners on. McAvoy didn't falter, getting a ground ball off the bat of Jesus Medina that Muscatello turned into a 6-3 double play. Muscatello went up the middle on the very next play to retire Keaton Flint and end the inning. In the sixth, McAvoy issued a leadoff walk but Brown snared a line drive off the bat of Murphy and fired back to first to double off the runner.
Bryant put the game away with a pair of runs in the eighth and a single run in the ninth. Muscatello reached on an infield error and freshman Robby Rinn singled to start the inning before Mountford drilled a one-out double to right field to score a run. Freshman AJ Zarozny made it 7-0 with a sac fly to center. In the ninth, Anderson reached on an error, Muscatello moved him to third with a single and a wild pitch scored him to make it 8-0.
Offensively, Muscatello led the way with three hits, and Mountford, Brown and Mullen all had two hits apiece. Anderson added a pair of RBIs to the offense.