By Shaun Chornobroff
A rough stretch got worse for the baseball team as they got swept by Delaware over the weekend before losing against La Salle on March 10.
Despite the losses, Head Coach Barry Davis has full confidence in his team.
“I like where we are. This is a big stretch for us before we begin conference play,” Davis said. “It is a process, we will stay with it.”
During the four-game slate, Rider showed its potential both offensively and defensively, but could not seem to put the two together.
On March 7, it was the pitching rotation’s turn to put their best foot forward.
Senior Pete Soporowski had one of the best games of his Rider career, giving up only two runs, one earned run over eight innings pitched. But Soporowski’s gem was wasted, as Rider could only plate one runner in a 2-1 loss.
Soporowski gave up both runs in the fourth inning. The second run, which was the eventual game-winner, was scored off of an infield single. The run was unearned due to a passed ball that preceded it.
Rider’s offense was completely shut down by Delaware’s Mike Biasello and Chris Ludman in Saturday’s game. The duo pitched all nine innings for Delaware, only allowing the Broncs to get five hits in the loss.
“We need to find a way to push across more than one,” Davis said of the offensive performance.
In a doubleheader on March 8, it was the offense’s turn to show its potential, but Rider’s pitching staff was inconsistent in two losses.
Rider’s scored 12 runs, but allowed 15 to Delaware.
The team dropped its first game of the day in a seven-inning game, due to weather 7-6.
Rider got off to a good start when an RBI single by Luke Lesch, last week’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Rookie of the Week, put the Broncs up 2-0 in the first inning.
The freshman infielder had a productive doubleheader, going 3-of-6 from the plate, to go along with two RBIs and one run scored. In light of the losses, Lesch was not satisfied with his productive play.
“I thought my individual play was pretty good, but it could have been better,” Lesch said. “Unfortunately we were a couple plays away from winning the series, but we are going back to work.. to get better as a team.”
The game would go back and forth, but going into the bottom of the sixth Rider found itself ahead with a 5-4 lead.
It took a turn when junior Joe Papeo, who pitched three and one-third scoreless innings going into the sixth gave up five earned runs, leaving the Broncs trailing 7-5.
Rider scored one more in the last inning, but could not plate the tying run.
In the last game of the weekend, Rider found themselves down 6-2 after the third inning.
Rider committed two errors that led to five of six runs given up in the span to be unearned.
Davis was brutally honest when discussing the mistakes.
“These are plays good teams make,” Davis bluntly explained. “If we want to play for a championship, we need to sure up some things.”
Rider tied the game up at six during a four-run fifth inning. The Broncs’ young talent proved to be pivotal, as Lesch or freshman outfielder/infielder Scott Shaw was involved in three of the innings four runs.
Lesch spoke on the importance young players will have on this team.
“With many freshmen on the team, younger guys including myself are going to need to capitalize in big situations to help our upperclassmen, who have much experience in these tight games,” Lesch explained.
In the bottom of the same inning, freshman pitcher Dylan Heine gave up an RBI double to give the Blue Hens a lead they would never relinquish. One more run off Heine in the bottom of the eighth would be the nail in the coffin as the Broncs’ bats were silent for the rest of the game.
Despite being credited with the loss, Heine had a nice performance — only giving up two runs and striking out four batters in as many innings.
When asked about Heine, Davis said that the freshman had been a “bright spot” and will “continue to get mound time.”
Rider finished its week by finally returning home.
It was far from a happy homecoming as the Broncs lost a seven-inning game 14-4 against La Salle on March 10.
Freshman pitcher Jake Andrey made the longest pitching appearance of his young career. Andrey pitched two and two-thirds innings, giving up four runs and sevens hits, also striking out four batters.
Rider’s defense was once again a cause for concern committing four errors in the game, leading to seven unearned runs.
Redshirt sophomore infielder Jake Barbiere was the Broncs’ worst offender, committing two errors in the game. That brought his total up to eight for the season.
Rider’s offense was quiet for the first six innings scoring only one run, before plating three more in the last inning.
Rider will look to improve upon its 6-8 record when it travels to South Carolina to play Citadel from March 13 to March 15.