Broncs begin season with three game sweep

Junior right-handed pitcher Mike Petrowski recorded a six inning, seven strikeout performance against Maryland Eastern Shore.  He earned MAAC Pitcher of the Week honors.By Hal Goodwin

The Rider baseball team started its season off strong, sweeping last weekend’s three-game series at Maryland Eastern Shore.

The Broncs were able to take advantage of an offensive explosion. They batted .340 as a team and produced 26 runs in the three games, propelling them past their competition.

Junior catcher Sean Olson continued right where he left off last season collecting six hits in the series, while driving in six runs.

“We were able to get into their bullpen and expose some things,” Head Coach Barry Davis said. “Hitting comes and goes so we’ll have to put that behind us and swing a bit better this weekend.”

Along with the team’s stout offensive production, its pitching staff was tremendous and played a crucial role. It held Maryland Eastern Shore to a mere nine runs and a .230 team batting average for the series.

The Rider arms came out of the series with a 2.35 earned run average as a team, while striking out 24 Mountain Hawk hitters in 23 innings.

“Even though we came out of the weekend 3-0, we still have a lot of things to work on to compete at a higher level, and like coach has told us, they are all fixable,” said junior shortstop Jamie Hayes. “We did score a bunch of runs but I felt like we left more out there on the table.”

According to Hayes, the team performed well at the plate despite not having spent significant time on the field since the fall.

Throughout the series, all of the team’s pitchers, from the starters to the closers, got the job done, including an impressive six inning, seven strikeout, zero walk outing from junior starter Mike Petrowski in the first game.

“Petrowski pitched real well and that’s why he is our number one guy, but as a team we got the job done,” Hayes said. “I feel like we have a good mix of guys and that we can definitely build off of this weekend being 3-0 now.”

Hayes credited the bullpen with stepping up and “closing the door in certain situations,” a factor that he said was important to the team’s success.

While a 3-0 start is always positive for a team to build, the players know it’s equally important for them to take the

season as it comes and not look past what’s right in front of them, something senior pitcher William O’Connor has learned over his four years at Rider.

“It’s always good to start the season off on a positive note,” said O’Connor. “We haven’t started off 3-0 in any of the years I’ve been here, until now. Our pitchers came out and did well and let the offense do their thing; that’s all you can ask for. It was a good first weekend to build on.”

The Broncs have a long road ahead of them, starting Friday with a difficult three-game weekend series in Virginia versus Liberty, one of the tougher opponents the Broncs will face this season.

“It’s going to be pretty tough,” O’Connor said. “But I’m confident that we can go in there and contend.”

According to Davis, Liberty, which has beaten Notre Dame and Iowa, is a solid and well coached team, and Rider will need to come out and be ready to play if it expects to win.

“Each weekend the competition gets tougher,” Davis said. “We’re looking to improve our play this weekend. I consider Liberty a top 30-50 team in the country.”

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