By Thomas Albano
The Broncs had their first full three-game series at home when they took on Marist in a doubleheader on April 5 and finished the series on April 6.
Rider (8-17, 3-1 MAAC) fell in the first game of the doubleheader to the Red Foxes (8-20, 2-7 MAAC) by a score of 13-9. The Broncs, however, would bounce back by winning the next game 7-2, and winning the rubber match of the series on April 6 by a score of 9-1. This is the first time this year that the Broncs have won a series.
Freshman outfielder Nick Kagel says this is the perfect opportunity for the team to keep up its winning ways.
“It always feels great to win a series,” Kagel said. “The plan is to keep the momentum going from this past weekend and don’t look back.”
In game one of the doubleheader, junior pitcher Kurt Sowa started on the mound for the Broncs. He pitched five innings, giving up four hits and four runs, one of which was unearned. He struck out four.
While Marist scored a run in the top of the second inning, the Broncs answered back with a three-run bottom-of-the-third inning, with two of the runs coming from a single by junior infielder Greg Fazio. After the Broncs struggled all season to light up their bats, they rocked Marist’s starting pitcher, senior Jordan Eich, who gave up six runs and allowed 10 of Rider’s 13 hits in the game.
However, the sixth and seventh innings proved to be tougher for the Broncs.
Freshman pitcher Josh Sharik took over pitching duties, surrendering a two-RBI triple and allowing a third run to come home on a wild pitch. After facing five batters, junior Eric Thomas would replace him.
Thomas did not fare much better, with wild pitches, passed balls and a hit-by-pitch. The two innings combined saw Marist score a total of eight runs.
After another two Marist runs came home during the top of the ninth, the Broncs worked toward a comeback, managing to score three runs, but fell short, 13-9.
Senior outfielder Nick Crescenzo stressed that the team couldn’t dwell on the defeat.
“We just tried to forget about the first game,” he said. “We took the positives out of the game and rolled into game two, which was a must-win for us.”
The Broncs dominated the second game with a strong pitching performance by junior Zach Mawson. Mawson pitched a complete game, allowing five hits and giving up only two runs.
Offensively, the Broncs scored two runs in the bottom of the first and five in the bottom of the fourth, highlighted by a grand slam from sophomore outfielder James Locklear, his first collegiate home run. This would seal the Bronc victory.
The rubber match played on April 6 saw Rider explode offensively in the first two innings, scoring nine runs. In addition, senior Kyle Kennett allowed just six hits and one run in seven innings pitched before junior pitcher Mickey Donnelly and sophomore pitcher Vincenzo Aiello secured the Bronc victory.
Rider’s bats got going in the second and third games, but Crescenzo said the team has more work to do.
“We have improved and most of the lineup seems to have confidence at the plate, which is key,” Crescenzo said. “We still need to improve overall to get where we want to be.”
Up next on the schedule is a one-game home showdown against NJIT on April 9, followed by a three-game series at St. Peter’s on April 12 and 13.