By Brandon Scalea
The baseball team continued its non-conference struggles last week, taking one out of four games against Rutgers and St. John’s.
Senior pitcher Zach Mawson, after the victory that came on Sunday against St. John’s, said that he feels the offensive drought is coming to an end.
“[We need to] be more confident,” Mawson said. “That’s all. It will come around. Hitting is one of the hardest things to do in sports. If we play like we did Sunday, we will be all right.”
On March 25, the Broncs took on a Big Ten school for the second time this year when they traveled to Rutgers (8-16, 3-3 Big 10). Rutgers took that one 9-3, outhitting the Broncs 12-6 in the process.
Once again, a big inning killed Rider (5-14). After they tied the score at 3-3 in the top of the fifth, Rutgers put up five runs in the bottom half on four hits, two walks and an error.
Rider led 1-0 on an RBI double by junior infielder Patrick Murphy in the first inning. The lead was extended to two when senior outfielder Greg Fazio singled and was eventually able to score on a double play.
Freshman Paul Sparano got the start on the mound, and went four innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out two. Freshman CJ Hirschy relieved him, going two shoutout innings, walking one.
Though Rutgers has won the last two meetings between these two teams, the all-time series has been competitive, with Rutgers holding a 39-27 advantage.
The Broncs then traveled to Queens, New York, to take on St. John’s (12-10). The Red Storm took two out of three, but the Broncs escaped with a win in the third game.
The first game of the series was a pitching duel that ended 1-0. Mawson, despite earning the loss, went eight strong innings, while striking out four and allowing one run. The batting woes with Mawson on the mound continued for the Broncs in that game, and they have yet to score a run in all 27 innings that he has pitched.
Mawson believes the offense will come eventually; he just needs to focus on the task at hand.
“In the first game of a series, you’re always going to face a team’s best guy. I knew it would be a battle,” he said. “I know my team is doing everything it can to get runs with me on the mound. I just have to do my job. It’s a team effort.”
The only run for the Red Storm came in the fourth inning on a misplayed ball that was ruled a double. A wild pitch and a ground out made the difference. Junior outfielder James Locklear had two of Rider’s four hits.
In the second game, the bats came alive for St. John’s, and not so much for the Broncs. The Red Storm cruised to a 17-3 win thanks to a total of nine runs in the seventh and eighth innings.
Junior Vincenzo Aiello started and allowed one run through three innings. His bullpen was not able to keep the game close. In the fourth inning, St. John’s blew the game open with six runs on three hits, three walks, and an error for an early 7-0 lead.
Locklear was able to stay hot at the plate despite his team’s struggles, scoring another run for Rider after singling. Senior first baseman Justin Thomas also contributed with a sacrifice fly.
In the third game, the Broncs defeated St. John’s 7-2. Freshman pitcher Nick Margevicius earned his first career win going five and one third innings.
Margevicius credits his defense for his reliability.
“It felt good to get a team win after a little bit of a skid,” he said. “I was pretty comfortable on the mound. After I sat for a while in the fifth inning, I struggled to find the zone, but other than that I was all right. I just trusted my defense and let St. John’s put it in play.”
Leading by three in the seventh, the Broncs put up a two spot on two hits. Junior outfielder Jordan Leinweber doubled and senior third baseman Nick Richter had an RBI single.
Rider also scored three runs in the fifth inning thanks to two hits, another double by Leinweber and a single by Thomas, and two errors. Senior closer Eric Thomas put the game away with a scoreless ninth inning.
The Broncs were supposed to play March 31 at Seton Hall, but the game was canceled.
On April 1, Rider will have its home opener at Sonny Pittaro Field, as they take on Delaware State (6-15).