By Ryan Connelly
The fire that was beneath the baseball team has extinguished.
This past weekend, Rider had a three-game series against Canisius and the Broncs lost all three.
The final scores were 4-3, 7-0 and 9-0, respectively, all in which Canisius came out on top. The Broncs are now in one of their biggest slumps of the year, and have not scored in the last 20 innings.
The first game was where Rider played its overall best. The offense was able to put three runs on the board, scoring two in the second inning and one in the fifth. However, those three runs were not enough to hold off Canisius, who scored a run in the third inning and three in the sixth. After that sixth inning, neither team scored again, resulting in a win for Canisius.
In the second and third games, Rider struggled. The Broncs couldn’t get anything going at the plate, and the pitching staff gave up 16 runs combined. Rider ended up being shut out in these two games, which tacked on two more wins for the Golden Griffins.
Coming into the series, Rider pitched two of its top three pitchers, junior Nick Margevicius and freshman John Yokum. Unfortunately for Yokum, since he allowed three runs in four innings, he is now fourth on the roster with an ERA of 5.71.
One player who had an impact at the plate was senior outfielder Tyler Kaiser. He hit a two-run homerun in the top of the second inning of the first game. Junior outfielder Harrison McClure went 3-for-3 with one RBI in the first game, but was left on base every time.
On the Canisius side, virtually every hitter contributed. Pitcher Andrew Kneussle threw six innings in the second game, where he allowed five hits, no runs, and struck out three.
After the weekend sweep, Rider played against crosstown rival Princeton. The final score was an unorthodox 7-7. Princeton does not have lights on its field, and it became too dark to play, so it ended in a tie.
The Broncs had different leads in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings, but an RBI in the bottom of the ninth by senior outfielder Nick Hernandez of Princeton tied the game. After that, senior pitcher Josh Sharik was able to strike out Tiger freshman infielder Ramzi Haddad to end the game.
Head Coach Barry Davis wasn’t happy with the outcome.
“We had leads, 5-3 and 7-6, and we just could not close the door,” Davis said.
Lately, Davis had been using a strategy that involved using many pitchers in a single game. Each pitcher on average gets one or two innings and then is replaced with a fresh arm. Throughout this game, nine Bronc pitchers were used, as Princeton used only four. Rider had seven runs, 11 hits and five RBI while Princeton also had seven runs, 10 hits and seven RBI.
Someone who stood out among the Broncs, not only in this game, but throughout the past few weeks, was junior first baseman Jake Bender.
“Throughout the season, my play at first base has improved and I’ve gotten more comfortable playing on the right side of the field,” Bender said.
For this week’s upcoming schedule, the Broncs take on St. Joseph’s and Manhattan at home to see if they can bounce back and return to second place in the MAAC. They fell to fifth after the three losses against Canisius.
With the MAAC Tournament approaching teams are fighting hard to get a spot and a high seed. Only six of the 11 get into the tournament. Last season, Rider was left out. In 2015, the Broncs were the No. 1 seed.