By: Shane Kelly
The Bryant Bulldogs baseball team is adjusting to a different vibe for this fall. The NCAA Division I Council announced prior to the academic year that each team is able to play two fall exhibition games that do not bear any change to any team’s spring record. The Bulldogs have a packed, 56-game schedule during the spring that is filled with nonstop travel. These two exhibition games help the team prepare for the very demanding spring schedule. These exhibition games are treated just like regular season spring games by the players and coaches.
This past weekend, the team packed the bus at 6am to head to the United States Military Academy to play Army in a 14-inning exhibition game. This was a great opportunity for the team, especially for the incoming freshmen, who were able to get a taste of their first collegiate baseball game. When I asked Redshirt Sophomore Ryan Ward about his feelings on the opportunity he shared, “It’s great for the freshman to get adapted to the expectations of a real game so early in the season. It’s also great to get those first game jitters out of the way so that everyone is ready for the first game this February.” The Bulldogs played hard for all 14 innings and came out on top by a score of 9-5. The atmosphere for the game was great as most of the players’ parents were able to come to the campus to watch and cheer the team on. “I thought it was a really great experience and beneficial to play a team other than ourselves during the fall. Play intersquad games every weekend in the fall get repetitive so it is nice to play a different team in a different environment this time of the year,” Junior James Ciliento added.
Although it was great to dominate in the game, the Bulldogs seemed to enjoy the tour of the Academy a lot more. As soon as the team unpack the bus after arriving at their destination, they were guided on a tour by an engineering department head at the Academy. They were able to see how much different life was for those who attended the academy, especially for the baseball players they were getting ready to compete against. The team was educated on what each student was obligated to on a daily basis. Junior Chris Wright weighed in on his tour experience saying, “It is crazy to see what these guys have to go through on a daily basis with the understanding that they do everything that we do on top of it. It makes us realize that our lives as regular student-athletes aren’t so bad.” The team was able to see a number of the building on campus including the dining hall that seats over 4,000 people and the seven-story library. The architecture of the buildings had an old-fashioned look with state-of-the-art equipment inside each building. On top of it all, the weather could not have been better. It turned out to be a great day for the Bulldogs from all angles. The team hopes to have a fun rest of the fall after a day like this one. They will play their last exhibition game on October 20th, on campus against University of Rhode Island.