Pitching struggles send Rider to 1-5 in MAAC

By Austin Ferguson

The baseball team hit a weekend rough patch, getting swept in a three-game series against Siena. Rider also lost to Delaware, 6-1, on April 2.

The first game against the Saints on March 30 started off as a close contest. The score was 3-2 in favor of Siena going into the top of the sixth inning. 

The Saints blew their lead open, behind three hits and a couple of walks to score four runs and increase their lead to five. 

The score remained 7-2 for the rest of the game behind a complete-game performance from Siena’s Tommy Miller, striking out six batters. 

Rider’s scoring came without hits, with junior outfielder Sebastian Williamson driving in a run in the third on a fielder’s choice and graduate student catcher Mike Ionta sending in a run via a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning. 

Things didn’t get much better for the Broncs in their March 31 doubleheader against the Saints, dropping both games, 13-4 and 9-8. 

Junior Pete Soporowski got the nod in the first game, coming off a career-high 15 strikeout performance in his last start against Niagara. His outing against Siena did not have the same outcome.

Soporowski let up nine runs in five innings of work, with five of those runs being earned. He struck out a fifth of the batters he did in his previous performance, only fanning three hitters.

The Broncs’ bats were not able to match with Siena’s in game one, only scoring their first run in the sixth inning. Rider attempted to rally late, tallying three runs in the seventh, highlighted by two runs scored off of Saints errors. The second game of the doubleheader was a much closer contest for the Broncs. 

Rider was cruising the first half of the game, establishing a 3-0 lead at the end of the fifth inning behind a sacrifice fly from junior outfielder Joe Simone and extra-base hits from freshman outfielder Alex Diamantis and junior outfielder Jack Peterson.

The Broncs were able to keep their lead for six innings, thanks to a solid starting performance from sophomore Vincent Vitacco, who allowed two earned runs in his outing.

Things fell apart when senior Zach Gakeler took the mound in the top of the seventh. In an inning and two-thirds work, Gakeler gave up five hits and walked three batters, allowing seven runs in the process. 

Down six runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Rider began to rally. The Broncs cut Siena’s lead to just three runs after junior catcher Chris Roan and junior infielder Kyle Johnson scored off a Saints’ error, followed by a Peterson sacrifice fly. Simone and senior infielder Richie Tecco both singled to drive in two more runs, making it a 9-8 game. With two runners on, Johnson would fly out to center field to end the game and the series for Rider.

“I’m disappointed with the results today,” Head Coach Barry Davis said. “The inability to prevent the big inning was our downfall all weekend as [Siena] scored 20 runs in a four-inning span.”

Rider traveled to Bob Hannah Stadium in Newark, Delaware to take on Delaware in the second round of the Liberty Bell Classic.

The Broncs’ bats were quiet all game, only mustering six hits in a 6-1 loss against the Blue Hens. Winston Allen and Jack Dubecq combined to silence the Rider offense, with Allen letting up just two hits in three innings of work of relief, coming off of the bats of Peterson and Simone in the ninth inning.

“We need to play an entire game from the first pitch to the last,” Davis said. “When we start to do that, we will see better results. We can be a much [better] team offensively then we’ve shown.”

The Broncs’ next matchup is a home contest against NJIT on April 3 at 3:30 p.m. Rider will jump back into conference play at Saint Peter’s on April 6 and 7.

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