Broncs take one against the Sooners

By Benjamin Shinault

Rider baseball excelled in every category in their opening series against the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs, this past weekend facing an immediate challenge in the Oklahoma Sooners, the runner-up of last year’s men’s College World Series. The first ever matchup between the two programs did not pan out in the favor of the Broncs as they faced their first series loss of the new season.

Game 1

The road trip continued for the Broncs as they traveled to the midwest to take on the Oklahoma Sooners. When they arrived, it was all business for senior starting pitcher Dylan Heine, who made his second appearance on the mound this year during Friday’s game. After going 5 1/3 innings in his last appearance, he pitched another five innings this time around. 

Heine cruised through the first four innings only allowing one earned run which came off a sacrifice bunt in the third. In the fifth inning, Heine allowed two RBI singles, the end of all Oklahoma scoring that day. Graduate student Danny Kerwin came in to close out the game, pitching 2 2/3 innings for the Broncs and striking out six of the 14 batters he faced.

Despite the brisk weather and blustery winds present in Norman, Oklahoma, the Broncs offense was still red hot, ending the game with six runs. Three Broncs came around to score in the third inning after both junior infielder Brian Skettini and senior infielder Jack Winsett both singled in some runs. Rider went on to add one more run in the seventh and two more runs in eighth, cementing a 6-3 win for the Broncs.

Game 2

The Broncs found themselves in the lead early in Saturday’s game against the Sooners, but it wasn’t enough as they lost 7-2 to the NCAA Championship finalists.

“We made it tough on ourselves, walking seven batters and hitting two guys. That’s nine free bases. We also didn’t do a great job stopping the running game, which is a problem, especially when we know that’s their game,” said Head Coach Barry Davis after the loss on Saturday.

Graduate student pitcher Frank Doelling was on the bump Saturday for the Broncs fresh off a shutout performance in his last outing, but did not secure that same success as his final line was 2 2/3 innings pitched, four hits, three earned runs and four walks. The Sooners took their first lead in the third inning and never gave it back, scoring most of their runs by singles and sacrifice flies which proved to be enough to defeat the Broncs.

One positive from the pitching staff on Saturday was freshman pitcher Will Gallagher, who threw two very strong innings. He didn’t allow a single hit, and he struck out one. One thing we all learned from the Broncs so far this season is the freshman arms in the bullpen are going to prove fruitful later down the line. 

The Broncs offense was only able to rummage up two runs, the first scored by senior Scott Shaw who singled towards the shortstop which allowed redshirt junior Jordan Erbe to touch home. Fast-forward eight innings, the Broncs were able to add one more run from Jack Winsett’s single which allowed senior infielder Luke Lesch to score. After a good win the day before, the Broncs weren’t able to match the feat, and they moved on to a rubber match against the Sooners.

Game 3

The Broncs won the first game of the series and were hungry to win once more. In spite of that, based on the final score of 11-1, they were no match for the Sooners on the matchup. Rider was able to produce only two hits, and they gave up 11 hits and 11 runs, each one further mutilating the team.

Sophomore pitcher Brian Young was the next man up in the rotation to face the Sooners. Young did not have his best performance on the mound, as he was only able to pitch 4 1/3 innings, giving up six earned runs and walking four Sooners.

On the offensive side of the baseball, the Broncs were just as deficient, getting two hits with one of them being a Scott Shaw solo shot in the third inning, the first from him this season. The remaining hit came from senior infielder John Volpe in the first inning who shot one up the middle of the diamond for a single.

After the game Sunday, Davis said, “It was just one of those days. We will learn from it and be better for it, but now we’re on to the next one.” 

The next game for the Broncs is a single-game series against the Lafayette College Leopards on Wednesday, March 1 at the Camden Athletic Complex in Camden, New Jersey.

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