Broncs drop third MAAC series at Iona

By Tim Ferrier

It was a rough weekend for the baseball team as it went 1-3 against Wagner and Iona in the first four games of an eight-game road trip. The Broncs are now 13-22 overall and 4-8 in conference play.

In the first game, Rider’s bats went cold as they fell to Wagner in a 9-1 loss on April 10.

Two runs crossed the plate for the Seahawks in the home half of the first inning, which was all they needed before piling on seven more by the time the game ended.

The Broncs scored their sole run on an RBI groundout in the fifth inning from senior shortstop Richie Tecco. It was Tecco’s eighth RBI in his last six games. 

Freshman left-hander Andrew Imperatore took the loss in the game and allowed five earned runs on four hits and three walks across four innings of work. 

“Not a lot of positives to draw from this performance,” said Head Coach Barry Davis. “Alex Diamantis had two hits for us and I think Liam Harding pitched well out of the bullpen.”

There were plenty of positives to draw from Rider’s first game against Iona in the double header on April 13. 

The Broncs shutout Iona 8-0 behind eight scoreless innings from right-handed sophomore Vincent Vitacco.

“I felt great the whole game,” said Vitacco. “[Davis] had trust in me to go eight innings, and that’s what I gave him.”

Vitacco threw a gem and surrendered just five hits and a pair of walks in his career-high eight innings while striking out six in the process.

“Vitacco was excellent once he settled down. He gave us eight shutout innings,” said Davis. “Out of the bullpen, Smith got the final three outs. We were able to keep the pressure on them throughout the first game. It was a nice win.”

Junior outfielder Sebastian Williamson and senior first baseman Riley Mihalik handled the offense for Rider in the middle of the lineup. Mihalik started the scoring in the fourth inning with an RBI single that scored Williamson. He tacked on another RBI with a ground-rule double in the ninth before finishing 2-5 in the game. Mihalik’s two RBIs gave him a team lead with 29.

Williamson finished 3-5 with an RBI, a double and three runs scored against the conference rivals. With the win, the Broncs surpassed their season win total from a year ago.

Rider went on to split the doubleheader against Iona with a 4-2 loss to the Gaels in the second game. 

Williamson singled home a run in the first inning, followed by a sacrifice fly from junior infielder Zach Fick in the second inning that gave Rider an early 2-0 advantage.

The score stood until the bottom half of the fourth, where a bases loaded walk allowed Niko Switalla to come home for Iona’s first run.

The Gaels proceeded with three more in the fifth inning to make it a 4-2 game and seal the victory. 

The Broncs went for the series win in the rubber match with Iona on April 14 but quickly found themselves down big and ultimately fell 11-4.

Tecco tied the game 1-1 on an RBI single in the top of the second inning, but five runs crossed the plate for Iona in the home half of the second, followed by three more in the third and one in the fourth. 

Rider faced a 10-2 deficit and could not muster up enough offense to salvage the game. 

Freshman right-hander Kyle Smith hurled two and two-thirds innings of hitless ball and struck out one. 

Junior outfielder Joe Simone recorded his 100th career hit via an RBI double in the third inning. Simone joined junior infielder Kyle Johnson as the second Bronc this season to reach the 100-hit plateau for their career.

“Not much to highlight from this one. Being down eight runs after four innings is difficult to recover from. Out of the bullpen, Kyle Smith was excellent,” Davis said. “We have certainly dug ourselves a hole in the MAAC and we only have ourselves to blame.”

Rider will look to right the ship as their road trip continues on April 17 at Princeton at 3 p.m.

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