By Josh Veltrie
After being swept by Canisius in a doubleheader on Saturday, Rider’s baseball team was able to win three straight games. The Broncs beat Canisius, 4-2, on Sunday and defeated Princeton, 6-0 on Tuesday. The biggest victory came against Temple on Wednesday, whom they beat 10-8 in 10 innings after being down by six in the ninth inning.
Temple (13-15, 8-1 A-10), is in first in the Atlantic 10 conference, was able to jump out to an early 5-0 lead before Rider (13-12, 5-4 MAAC) scored a run in the fourth inning. The Owls led 8-1 in the eighth inning before the Broncs staged a huge comeback.
“This game definitely sets an attitude about playing all nine innings until the last out,” said Head Coach Barry Davis.
In the eighth, Rider sophomore Steve Galella’s RBI single brought in fellow sophomore Mason Heyne, who had tripled earlier in the inning.
The Broncs scored six runs in the ninth, highlighted by junior Nick Wojnowski’s three-run, two-out double that knotted the score at eight.
“That was an easy decision to make, Nick was the best option for the situation,” Davis said. “He made the most of the opportunity.”
In the 10th inning, senior Sean Olson blasted a walk-off two-run homer to give the Broncs the dramatic 10-8 win. Junior Kris Brown threw two innings of shutout relief to get the win, making him 2-0 on the season.
“Kris did a great job of shutting them down after we came back to tie it,” Davis said. “That is what good teams do, you get stops after you score.”
Olson went three for five in the game, driving in three runs. He now has 143 RBIs throughout his career, which is fourth best all time at Rider. The walk-off homer also gives him 23 home runs for his career, which is ninth best at Rider.
Galella ended up going two for five, scoring a run while knocking in two. Leadoff hitter senior James Hayes reached base five times, three times on walks and also getting two hits.
Canisius (14-15, 3-3 MAAAC), the pre-season favorite to win the MAAC, scored a total of 32 runs in the doubleheader over the weekend, taking advantage of some mistakes the Broncs made. The Broncs committed seven errors, walked 14 batters and hit nine batters throughout the two games.
“We did not pitch or play defense very well in the doubleheader,” Davis said. “Looking back on it, strategically I could have done a better job to maybe have put us in a better position to pull out a win.”
Thanks to some clutch hitting by Rider in the ninth that tied the first game up at nine apiece, the Broncs had a chance to win the first game, but fell 14-9 in 10 innings.
In the second game the Golden Griffins jumped out to an early 10-run lead, but the Broncs staged another comeback, scoring seven runs in the third inning to cut the deficit to three. Unfortunately, Rider was unable to score any more runs, losing the game 18-7.
“It is really deflating to lose the first game the way we did, then to be down 10 runs early in the second game,” Davis said. “We did a really good job of bouncing back in both games but it just came down to pitching and defense, and we struggled in both of those areas.”
In the third game of the weekend, sophomore Patrick Devlin came out and gave Rider a strong pitching performance in the 4-2 victory over Canisius. Devlin (2-1) gave up two runs on six hits and four walks while striking out five in eight and one-third innings.
“It was just a great performance by Pat; he delivered when we needed him to,” Davis said. “It was huge not to get swept by Canisius in the three-game series. There is no question they are one of the better teams in the MAAC.”
Hayes was able to pick up the save, his third of the season and 28th of his career. Sophomore John Ralston had two of Rider’s eight hits, and he also drove in a run.
In the 6-0 victory over Princeton, seniors Derek Caldwell and Olson played very well to help lead the Broncs to a win. Caldwell (3-2) pitched eight shutout innings, striking out eight while only giving up four hits. The win is his third in a row, all of them coming against New Jersey teams.
“Derek has been throwing the ball really well lately,” Davis said. “He struggled a little bit earlier in the season but he has been consistently throwing strikes, which is a tribute to his work ethic.”
Olson went three for four, including a solo home run. He also scored two runs and drove in a couple as well.
“Sean had a big day on Tuesday,” Davis said “He has been a consistent player from day one.”
The Broncs look to continue their winning ways this weekend as they travel to Poughkeepsie, N.Y. to take on conference rival Marist. Rider faces the Red Foxes (14-14, 5-4 MAAC) in a doubleheader tomorrow and plays them once more on Monday.