SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University baseball team and head coach Steve Owens have announced the 2014 schedule, highlighted by an opening weekend trip to the University of Maryland and a four-game weekend against perennial Northeast powers Connecticut and Stony Brook.
The Bulldogs, coming off a record-setting season that included a program-record 45 wins and an NCAA tournament victory over Arkansas, have put together a 56-game slate that features eight 30-win teams and 19 home games at Conaty Park, a place they were an impressive 20-3 last season.
“We feel that our schedule is full of strong opponents and will be very challenging for us throughout the year both on the weekends and midweek,” Owens said. “Our goal is to be very competitive early and to work hard and keep improving in preparation for the opening of NEC play.”
Bryant kicks off its fourth season under Owens on Feb. 21 when it travels to College Park, Md., to take on the Terrapins. A member of the ACC, Maryland won 30 games in 2013 and finished fourth in the Atlantic Division. It will be the first-ever meeting between the Bulldogs and Terrapins.
The tough early schedule continues as the Black and Gold head further south over the course of the next three weekends. They head to Spartanburg, S.C., to take on South Carolina Upstate in a three-game weekend series on Feb. 28. Bryant will then spend its spring break travelling through Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. The Bulldogs open the trip with a three-game series against a Radford team that won 30 games a year ago on March 7, before squaring off with North Carolina A&T (Mar. 11-12) twice during the week. Bryant wraps up the spring trip with a three-game series with East Tennessee State on March 14. The Buccaneers won the Atlantic Sun championship last year and competed in the Nashville, Tenn., regional hosted by Vanderbilt.
After four weeks of travel, Bryant returns to the Northeast on March 18 to open the home portion of its schedule against former NE-10 rival UMass Lowell. The River Hawks are in their first year of the transition process from Division II. It will be the first of two meetings between the two teams as the Bulldogs make the trip to Lowell on March 25.
With the loss of Monmouth and Quinnipiac to the MAAC, the Bulldogs had to fill two open weekends and they did so admirably. They travel to Delaware for a three-game series with a Blue Hen team that won over 30 games last year on March 21. Bryant then welcomes America East member Albany to Conaty Park for a four-game weekend on March 28.
The following weekend, the Bulldogs will face off with two of the region’s top teams in a four-game weekend series at J.O. Christian Field in Storrs, Conn. Bryant will face last year’s BIG EAST champion Connecticut on Friday, April 4, Stony Brook on Saturday and then face both teams in a doubleheader on Sunday to wrap up the weekend.
Following a trip to intrastate rival Rhode Island (Apr. 9), the Black and Gold will finally open league play on April 11. The reigning Northeast Conference champions will host Central Connecticut in a four-game weekend series to get things started. The Bulldogs will also host Sacred Heart (May 2-4) and Wagner (May 15-17) in home conference series’. The meeting with the Pioneers will be a rematch of last year’s NEC title game won by the Bulldogs. Bryant will play conference road series’ at LIU Brooklyn (April 17-19), Mount St. Mary’s (April 25-27) and Fairleigh Dickinson (May 10-11).
The NEC championships will run from May 22-25 at a site that has yet to be determined. The top four teams in the conference standings qualify for the tournament.