By Shaun Chornobroff
After losing two of three games against East Tennessee State, the baseball team won two out of four against Lafayette and James Madison.
After a 10-4 loss on Feb. 23 to East Tennessee State, Head Coach Barry Davis explained that the team had no choice but to be resilient.
Three days later, Rider responded with an emphatic 10-1 eight-inning win on the road against Lafayette.
“We competed for the entire eight innings,” Davis said after the win.
Freshman pitcher Dylan Heine earned his first career win and was one of the five Bronc pitchers that contributed to the victory.
Rider’s pitching was consistent and allowed seven hits.
The Broncs’ offense was quiet for the first half of the game, but once again showed their ability to get hot at a moment’s notice.
Rider was only up 2-1 heading into the sixth inning, but with one out and a man on first, senior catcher Chris Roan smashed a two-run home run to extend Rider’s lead to three.
The home run was the first of Roan’s career and the first for Rider this year.
Rider continued its offensive outburst by scoring six runs in the seventh inning.
After the win against Lafayette, Rider had a weekend series against James Madison University.
The Broncs started the series by losing a game that seemed to be going their way.
Freshman infielder/pitcher Luke Lesch, who was named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Rookie of the Week, led Rider’s offense with three RBI as the Broncs built a 7-2 lead after the top of the seventh inning.
Senior pitcher Pete Soporowski seemed to be on his way to another dominant victory, allowing only two runs in his first six innings of work.
But the seventh inning was the Broncs undoing.
Soporowski and junior pitcher Joe Papeo would combine to give up five runs in the seventh, allowing James Madison to tie the game.
In the next inning, Vincent Vitacco allowed a sacrifice fly to Conor Harigan, giving James Madison the lead and the junior pitcher his first loss of the season.
Davis was not overly disappointed after the game.
“We just need to find a way to close it out,” Davis said. “It’s baseball, these things happen from time to time.”
Rider responded two days later, winning the first game of a doubleheader 3-2.
Rider once again benefitted from a fantastic performance from Frank Doelling. The sophomore pitcher earned his second win of the season, allowing only one earned run and striking out six batters in seven innings.
In his last two starts, Doelling struck out 15 batters and yielded two runs in 14 innings. Doelling, who is in his first season, is unsurprised by his hot start.
“I came into the season with high expectations and lofty goals set,” Doelling explained. “I’m just going to keep working hard to reach those goals and expectations.
Rider’s offense received a boost from senior infielder Kyle Johnson who scored all three of Rider’s runs in the game.
For the second straight series, Rider dropped the rubber game of a three-game set, suffering an embarrassing 16-2 loss on March 1.
Rider only mustered five hits and did not get a run until a fielding error allowed two runners to score in the seventh inning when the Broncs were already down by eleven runs.
James Madison responded by scoring five runs in the bottom of the same inning.
Davis was very blunt when commenting on the team’s performance.
“We need to be better than this, it’s as simple as this,” Davos stated.
One of the few bright spots in the game was freshman outfielder/infielder Scott Shaw, who was the designated hitter in the game and continued his hot start with two hits.
Shaw has a .385 batting average and four RBI so far this season.
Rider’s next series will be on the road to face University of Delaware from March 6 to 8.