Broncs rout Peacocks; score 46 runs over five games
By Benjamin Shinault
It was a packed week for Rider baseball as they took on the Princeton Tigers on April 19, the Saint Peter’s Peacocks through April 21-23 and then the Pirates of Seton Hall on April 25. Whether it was the traveling and the lack of rest-time, the Broncs found themselves a bit wounded after losing three of the five games they played over the tough stretch, something Broncs fans have not been used to seeing this season.
Battle of 206
Just one day after returning from Citizens Bank Park with a Liberty Bell Classic title in its possession, the Rider Broncs arrived back at Sonny Pittaro Field to take on the Princeton Tigers. The Tigers, who only had to drive roughly 15 minutes on the bus to get to Rider, got right to work and left the Broncs in the dust, winning 9-6.
Head Coach Barry Davis gave the start to freshman pitcher Chris Montone. Montone ran into immediate trouble in the first inning, giving up a solo shot down the left field line. Soon after, another run scored after a single, digging the Broncs a bit more deeper hole in the early stages of the ballgame.
The Broncs weren’t going to go down without a fight as senior catcher Socrates Bardatsos brought Rider within one with an RBI that scored senior infielder John Volpe. The score was 2-1 when the Tigers came back up to the batter’s box and added on to their lead with a home run and an RBI single, making the score 4-1.
Senior first baseman Luke Lesch and Volpe both had home runs during the late stages of the ballgame, but it proved to not be enough because the Broncs lost the game.
Complete authority displayed
The Broncs had themselves a ballgame in the first of a fresh series against the Peacocks of Saint Peter’s University. The Broncs scored 22 runs, 19 total hits and had two home runs, with one of them being a grand slam off the bat of senior outfielder Brendan O’Donnell, who now has a bewildering three grand slams this season.
The first game of the series was the Broncs first time away since early April; however, it appeared to have little to no effect on Rider. One of the aces for the Broncs, senior pitcher Dylan Heine, took to the mound for the first game of the series. Heine, who has now made 10 starts on the season, had a tough time during the game, with his final line being 1 2/3 innings pitched, eight hits, seven earned runs, one walk and one strikeout.
Despite Heine’s unfavorable start, the offense saved the day by scoring the most runs they’ve had all season with 22. The top performers from the blowout sale of runs were Volpe, senior outfielder Scott Shaw and O’Donnell. Between those three, they scored more than half of the team’s runs.
Starting off another Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) series with such a dominating win will more than likely propel the confidence in the box for the Broncs moving forward.
‘We have one focus’
As if scoring 22 runs wasn’t enough for the Broncs, the following day Rider decided to pour it on the Peacocks once again, beating them 12-5. The Broncs scored 30 runs over two days, giving them yet another series win against a divisional opponent and also giving eight straight series wins.
It was graduate student starting pitcher Frank Doelling’s turn in the rotation to pitch for the Broncs. Doelling, as of April 24, is the MAAC leader in ERA at 3.35 and with his outing Saturday against the Peacocks, that number will dip slightly as his final line was 5 1/3 innings, six hits, three earned runs, two walks and two strikeouts.
By the naked eye and common judgment of Broncs’ fans, some may say that this outing by Doelling was a solid one, his opinion saying otherwise.“It definitely wasn’t my best outing,” Doelling said. “I had to navigate through not having my best stuff, but I was happy with the end result of our team getting a win.”
Junior catcher Brian Skettini, who went three for four at the plate with three RBI’s, touched base on his plate approach and what he has done to become one of the many top contributors to the Broncs’ offense this season.
“I just try to stay relaxed and super confident in the box,” said Skettini. “I hunt the fastball and react to the breaking ball and hope the pitcher makes a mistake.”
Outside of Skettini, freshman outfielder Anthony Paskell and Bardatsos both contributed to the 12-5 defeat of the Peacocks.
‘We need to keep working’
The third and final game of the series wasn’t as action packed and successful as the previous two, as the Broncs were unable to complete the sweep and lost 6-5. Despite the Broncs only losing by one run, they struggled in a few categories both offensively and defensively.
The Broncs committed three errors and the pitching staff walked five while allowing 10 total hits on the defensive end. Rider was unable to offensively bring a few runners that were stranded on base.
Sophomore pitcher Brian Young pitched Sunday for the Broncs and gave them 5 1/3 innings. After Young came in, freshman pitcher Clayton Poliey went 2 1/3 innings, allowing zero hits and striking out three.
The game went back and forth for a while. The Peacocks would score, then the Broncs would tie and then the Peacocks would add more and the Broncs would make it close. With all that considered, the Broncs couldn’t hang on for the rollercoaster that was Sunday’s game and would happily walk away with the series win.
Pirates take control
After yet another successful weekend series for the Broncs against the Saint Peter’s Peacocks, the Broncs returned home to face the Seton Hall Pirates but would be faced with a complete shutdown of their flaming-hot offense, only amounting one run and losing 3-1.
Freshman pitcher PJ Craig assumed the starting pitching duties for the Broncs Tuesday and did just as well as Davis would hope going five innings, only allowing three earned runs and striking out three Pirates. When Craig’s day was done, another freshman pitcher Christian Aiello, came in and was spectacular as well, pitching three innings while allowing only two hits.
Pitching wasn’t the problem for the Broncs, it was the offense that caused the ultimate demise. The lone run came from Skettini in the the fourth inning who doubled down the right field line scoring Shaw.
The Broncs, as we know, are more than capable of bouncing back and will look to do so against the University of Pennsylvania at Sonny Pittaro Field on April 26.