By Paige McAtee
The Broncs dropped their first MAAC contest against Iona last weekend, but captured the series victory, taking two out of three from the Gaels before knocking off New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), 6-4, on Wednesday.
Rider’s win against the Highlanders continued its hot streak of 12 victories in its last 15 games.
“We have played fairly consistently so far this season,” said Head Coach Barry Davis. “We need to improve our overall defense, pitching and situational hitting.”
The Broncs took to the field against conference foe Iona for three games. Rider won the first game of the doubleheader Saturday, 10-1, before falling in the nightcap, 7-2. The next day, however, Rider won the series with a 9-6 victory.
“Iona gave us trouble as they usually do,” Davis said. “Some heads-up base running gave us a chance to win the series.”
In the first game on Saturday, Rider was able to put together a strong offensive showing, earning the nine-run win.
Senior Mike Thomas pitched six innings and allowed just one run.
Junior Brandon Cotten and senior Mason Heyne had three hits each. Also contributing was freshman Nick Crescenzo, who had three RBI’s. Crescenzo hit a two-run single in the fourth, which helped extend the Broncs lead in the game. Crescenzo was named MAAC Rookie of the Week for the week of April 4th.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Iona outplayed Rider, setting up a deciding game three.
The Broncs were behind 6-0 until the third inning when Crescenzo once again came through with a base hit that brought in a run. Senior John Ralston scored on an error in the fifth inning, but that would be all the offense Rider would be able to muster.
In the third game of the series, Rider trailed Iona 6-3 through five innings until the Broncs scored three runs with hits by sophomore Mike O’Reilly and Cotten.
Senior Steve Galella broke the stalemate in the seventh inning when he scored on a wild pitch. The Broncs would add two more runs late in the game, locking up the victory.
The next game for the Broncs was against NJIT. Rider knew it would be facing a difficult opponent because it had never been able to beat NJIT on its home field.
“We need to be ready to play well,” Davis said before Wednesday’s game.
Freshman Kyle Kennett started the game and threw five solid innings. Kennett allowed two runs and no walks.
The bullpen finished the job. Senior Jeff Giordano and sophomores Chris Taylor and Tyler Smith combined for three innings of relief to close out the game, allowing only one run while striking out five.
Cotten’s impressive play was a reason for Rider’s success. He would lead off with a single, before stealing second, stealing third base on a wild pitch and finally scoring on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Heyne, who finished the game with two hits.
Senior Karl Johnston, Crescenzo and Wayman were major factors leading the Broncs to victory.
“We need to continue to improve in all phases,” Davis said. “Each individual needs to improve their game. It’s that simple.”
Rider’s next game is against MAAC competitor, Marist, this weekend. The Broncs will travel to Poughkeepsie to face off against the Red Foxes in a three-game series.
“Big games lie ahead,” Davis said. “We need to be as prepared as possible.”