SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Bryant Athletics and head baseball coach Steve Owens are excited to officially announce the 2017 56-game schedule that features series against Arkansas and Maryland and opens with 22-straight games on the road.
Coming off the greatest season in program history, the Bulldogs will challenge themsevles once again this spring. Last year, the Black and Gold won a program and Northeast Conference record 47 games, finishing the season with the highest winning percentage, the highest run differential and the most road victories in the country. Bryant found itself in the national rankings for five-straight weeks, climbing as high as No. 14. The Bulldogs also climbed as high as No. 26 in the RPI and finished the year 35th nationally.
In all, the Bulldogs will play 19 home games and will face opponents from the SEC, Big Ten, WAC , ACC, Big South and the Atlantic 10. Bryant will face three teams that made the NCAA Tournament.
“Our 2017 baseball schedule is very similar to the past 4 years,” Owens said. “We travel extensively and play very good competition on the road during the early weekends before transitioning to our 28-game NEC schedule.”
“Playing our first 22 games away provides us with the opportunity to build a good RPI and gain some national attention if we can win,” Owens added. “It also helps us develop the mentality and toughness needed to be ready to play every weekend in spite of the travel obstacles that we overcome. As a very young team, we are working hard at getting up to game speed and learning our strengths and weaknesses so we can develop the style we want to play in this year.”
Keeping with tradition, the Black and Gold’s 22-straight road games to start the season will provide a stiff early challenge. Bryant has led the country in road victories in two of the last three seasons, posting 24 true road wins and 32 total wins away from Smithfield last season. The Bulldogs went 14-4 last year when they played 18-straight away from Smithfield to start the year.
The 2017 season begins on Friday, Feb. 17 when Bryant travels to New Mexico State to open the season with a four-game series against the Aggies. It will be the first meeting in program history between the two schools.
Bryant will then head south for a big three-game series with SEC-member Arkansas. The Hogs, who average over 8,000 fans per game, had made the NCAA Tournament 14-straight years prior to missing it this past spring. Bryant and Arkansas have met before, playing twice in the 2013 Manhattan (Kan.) Regional. The Bulldogs and Hogs split two games, with the Black and Gold defeating the Razorbacks 4-1 in the first round of the tournament in what was their first-ever NCAA victory as a DI program.
Following its weekend down south, the Black and Gold will spend the month of March traversing the eastern seaboard. Bryant begins the month with a three-game series at perennial Big South power Liberty (Mar. 3-5) before opening its spring break trip with a three-game series at Maryland (Mar. 10-12). The Bulldogs will then make a pair of mid-week stops at A-10 members Richmond (Mar. 14) and George Washington (Mar. 15).
Bryant’s non-conference schedule also includes a weekend trip to Philadelphia for a three-game series with Saint Joseph’s (Mar. 24-26) and nine mid-week games against the top teams in the region. The Bulldogs play their first game at Conaty Park on Mar. 28 against Brown and then travel to Providence the following day to face the Bears (Mar. 29). Bryant will also host non-league games against Connecticut (Apr. 11), Boston College (Apr. 26) and Northeastern (May 3). The Huskies and Eagles both made the NCAA Tournament a year ago, with the Eagles advancing to within a win of the College World Series.
The Bulldogs’ final three non-league games will all come against in-state rival Rhode Island. The two teams gave the state of Rhode Island two NCAA Tournament baseball teams for the first time in history last spring and will battle for bragging rights again this year. The first meeting is scheduled for Apr. 5 at Conaty Park and the final two games will be played on May 18-19 at a site to be determined. Bryant leads the all-time series with the Rams 7-4.
For the second-straight year, the Northeast Conference schedule will feature a new format. The Bulldogs will face all six teams once and two of the teams twice during the 28-game regular season. This season, Bryant will face Fairleigh Dickinson and Sacred Heart twice, with each series being three games instead of the normal four.
Bryant, the defending NEC Regular-Season and Tournament Champions, opens its title defense on Mar. 17 at FDU in a rematch of last year’s championship round. It will be the first of two series between the two teams. The Bulldogs will also host the Knights at the end of April (28-30) for a three-game series.
The Bulldogs’ first home NEC series will come against Sacred Heart on Mar. 31-Apr. 2. It will be the first of two three-game series between the schools. Bryant will wrap up NEC play with a trip to Bridgeport on May 12-14.
Bryant will also host home NEC weekends against LIU Brooklyn (Apr. 14-16) and Mount St. Mary’s (May 5-7). The Black and Gold will play two four-game series on the road, at Wagner (Apr. 7-9) and at Central Connecticut (Apr. 21-23).
The Black and Gold will also play non-league road games at Hartford (Mar. 22) and former NEC member Quinnipiac (Apr. 18).