By Josh Veltrie
A four-game win streak is just what Rider’s baseball team needed as it beat Long Island on Wednesday before sweeping conference rival Siena this past weekend, moving into third place in the MAAC.
On Saturday, against Siena, the Broncs (18-15, 9-6 MAAC) won the first game 12-4 and managed to pull out a 10-9 victory in eight innings in the second game. An extra inning 12-8 win over the Saints capped off the weekend for Rider. The runs kept on coming against Long Island as the Broncs were able to pull out a 9-7 victory.
“Whenever you sweep a series it is huge,” said Head Coach Barry Davis. “The last two games [against Siena] weren’t pretty wins but what mattered is we were ultimately able to get the wins.”
Senior Sean Olson had another big weekend for Rider. Not only did he get his 200th hit on Saturday, but he also knocked in his 150th RBI. He went 3-5 with a grand slam in the first game while hitting in five RBIs.
“The personal accomplishments are great, but they mean nothing without a victory,” Olson said. “My main goal is to win and getting the achievements are just icing on the cake.”
Olson also went 3-5 in the second game with a solo shot and one RBI. His play got him named Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) player of the week as well as MAAC player of the week for April 14-19.
“When you have someone like Sean in your lineup, who can hit for power and average, it forces the opponent to make adjustments,” Davis said.
Senior Mike Petrowski pitched eight shutout innings in game one, compiling 11 strikeouts, giving him 200 for his career. Sophomore Mason Heyne also had a solid day at the plate, going 2-4 with a three-run homer in the first game with four RBIs.
The Broncs’ offense came alive in the three games against the Saints, scoring a total of 34 runs. This came after a three-game losing streak and dropping all the way to sixth in the MAAC standings.
“It was nice to see other guys contributing,” Davis said. “Hopefully, we can get everyone going so we can really be clicking offensively down the stretch.”
In the second game, a scheduled seven-inning game, Rider gave up five runs in the seventh, letting Siena send the game into extra innings. Sophomore Steve Gallela knocked in Heyne for the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning. Heyne went 2-4 in the game while scoring two runs.
Senior Maurice Williams and sophomore AJ Albee had two hits each for the Broncs with Williams scoring two runs and Albee getting two RBIs. Senior Jimmer Kennedy threw six and one-third innings while striking out four.
“Both starting pitchers on Saturday, Kennedy and Petrowski, went deep into the game and did exactly what we needed them to do,” Davis said. “With the injuries we have to our pitching staff, it was huge for them to pitch the way they did.”
In Sunday’s 10-inning 12-8 victory, freshman Brandon Cotton had three hits and three RBIs. However, Rider once again let go of the lead late, giving up four runs in the ninth inning. Junior Garrett Rugg scored the winning run in the 10th. After getting on base with a single, Albee sent Rugg home with a triple. The Broncs then tacked on a couple more insurance runs in the inning.
Galella and Heyne also played well for Rider offensively, with Galella getting two hits — including a two-run homer — scoring two runs and knocking one in. Heyne also had two hits while compiling three RBIs.
Senior Jamie Hayes claimed the win in the second and third games against Siena, his first two wins of the season. Olson also had a hit and an RBI in the win on Sunday.
In the victory over Long Island, Olson continued his hot streak. He had a pinch-hit, two-run home run in the fourth inning. He got to the game late because of class.
“The pinch hitting isn’t something I’m used to,” Olson said. “Once I got to the game my teammates helped me get loose and it seemed to work out.”
Junior Matt McCollum went 3-5 with two RBIs while also collecting his 100th hit. Hayes also had three hits and two RBIs on the day. He pitched a scoreless ninth inning to collect his fifth save of the year, giving him 31 in his career.
Albee also had a solid offensive showing, getting two hits — including a solo homer — knocking in one and scoring three times.
Junior Brian Herman pitched three and one-third innings in relief to get his first victory. He came in after sophomore Jeff Giordano threw four innings, striking out two and allowing four earned runs, in his first career start.
Olson is continuing his climb up the Rider recordbooks as he now has 154 RBIs throughout his career, only 12 shy of the record. He is 45th in the country in RBIs per game and has 44 so far this season, needing 13 more to tie the Rider single season record. The senior is fifth all time in both hits and home runs, tallying 203 hits and 27 homers in his career.
“I try not to pay attention to the records,” Olson said. “I care more about the MAAC standings.”
The Broncs have three conference games at home this weekend against Fairfield, with a doubleheader tomorrow and one game on Sunday.