By Aliyaah Lindsey
The baseball team traveled to Buffalo, New York, on April 3 and 4 to play a series against division rival and defending MAAC champion Canisius.
Despite losing the final game of the series, Rider (8-15, 2-1 MAAC) was the victor of two out of three games against the Golden Griffins (14-17, 6-3 MAAC), something in which Head Coach Barry Davis takes pride.
“Canisius has always been a top four team in the conference,” Davis said. “To win the series is big, but it will be more important if we continue to play well in subsequent weeks.”
Before traveling, however, the Broncs were visited by Delaware State (6-16, 5-4 MEAC) on April 1, and they defeated the Hornets, 6-1.
Senior catcher Eric Strano was pleased that the team was able to string hits together and play sound defense.
“I’m most proud of the consistent effort we had as a team in the win,” Strano said. “We were able to score in a few different innings and follow them up with some zeros.”
Strano helped the Broncs score their first run in the second inning by hitting an RBI single, and senior first baseman Justin Thomas contributed to the last run in the seventh with an RBI single.
Senior pitcher Kurt Sowa sat out after starting the first inning. Throughout the game, Head Coach Barry Davis used seven different pitchers in preparation for the series against Canisius.
Rider entered the series against Canisius on April 3 by sweeping the doubleheader.
Justin Thomas had four hits in the game, including a home run, two doubles and four RBIs. Alongside him, junior outfielder James Locklear had six hits with four runs in the two games.
The Broncs won the first game 7-5. In the seventh inning, senior infielder Mike Parsons scored on an RBI single made by senior third baseman Nick Ritcher, giving the Broncs their last run of the game. Canisius fought back in the last inning, scoring three of their five runs, but it was not enough.
In the second game, Rider took a 12-8 victory. Senior outfielder Greg Fazio hit a two-run single in the first inning to take an early lead.
Sowa pitched six scoreless innings against Canisius, striking out eight and only allowing two hits. This win was Sowa’s 20th, making him only the 10th Bronc to have 20 wins within a career.
To take a 12-0 lead in the seventh inning, Fazio hit a sacrifice fly, junior infielder Patrick Murphy hit an RBI single, Parsons followed with an RBI double, and junior outfielder Jordan Leinweber hit a two-run double. Canisius, however, scored all eight of their runs in the seventh inning.
In the third and final game of the series on April 4, the Broncs lost 8-6. Fazio began the day with a two-run triple in the first inning, scoring a run, making this the 100th run of his career. Fazio extended Rider’s lead to 4-0 in the third inning, hitting an RBI double along with an RBI single from Murphy.
Canisius quickly responded by scoring two runs in the third inning. In the fifth inning, Canisius scored four runs, increasing its lead to 7-4.
Davis felt his team did not play at the same level it did in the doubleheader.
“We played poorly on defense and our bats went silent after the third,” Davis said. “We didn’t keep scoring. We had our chance. We just need to practice; practice does count. Stay focused on the goals [and] we’ll be fine.”
The Broncs faced off against La Salle (14-16, 3-3 Atlantic 10) on April 7, where they won 5-2.
Rider’s victory was backed by its pitching staff, which held the Explorers to just two runs in a rain-shortened, eight-inning affair.
The staff was led by senior David Hafer, who pitched five and two-thirds innings, allowing three hits and no runs.
Offensively, the Broncs were helped by junior outfielder James Locklear’s two-hit performance.
Rider will head to NJIT on April 8, before hosting Fairfield on April 11 and 12.