By Jillian Shutt
The Broncs have had a busy schedule this past week, as they competed in four games over a span of three days. The Broncs faced off against the Fairfield Stags in a doubleheader, followed by an individual game before battling against the Princeton Tigers. The Broncs lost the doubleheader against Fairfield, before rebounding to take the last game against the Stags, and later the Tigers.
“It’s an easy concept. If you want to be good at something you have to do it a lot,” said Head Coach Barry Davis.
Monday was a tough day for the Broncs, (23-14, 10-5 MAAC) as they lost both games of the doubleheader to Fairfield (14-19, 6-6 MAAC) 6-5 and 3-1.
In game one, senior A.J. Albee doubled in the third inning and then scored on a Fairfield throwing error, which tied the game at 3.
Rider looked strong in the first game until the fourth inning when things started to fall apart. Rider committed an error and allowed three hits, on which the Stags capitalized.
Fairfield took a 6-3 lead in the fifth before the Broncs tried to rally late in the game. Senior John Ralston would bring in an RBI, and cut the lead to one. That would be as close as the Broncs would get. Senior Jeff Giordano allowed just two hits over four scoreless innings.
The second game was only scheduled for seven innings until a tied ballgame forced play in the eighth, where Fairfield was able to break the 1-1 tie by scoring on a two-run double. The only run for the Broncs was scored by sophomore Adam Wayman, who was driven in on a single by senior Karl Johnston. Senior Nate Eppley allowed just one run and four hits while striking out four batters over six innings.
The Broncs prepared themselves for the following game, and took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Albee drove in junior Brandon Cotten.
“After two tough losses on Monday we had to bounce back on Tuesday and we were able to,” Davis said.
The offense had something to prove after the doubleheader on Monday. It had 10 hits in the final game of the three-game series against Fairfield. The fifth inning was huge for the Broncs. They scored four runs in the inning. Two of them came off the bat of Wayman, who hit a triple to left-center field.
Sophomore Tyler Smith finished the game, earning his 11th save of the season.
“We need to improve our game in all phases,” Davis said. “This should make us refocus on what our goals were at the beginning of the season and now it is on our shoulders to meet those goals.”
With less than a day’s rest the Broncs traveled to Princeton to take on the Tigers. Things did not go according to plan for the Broncs, as Princeton scored three runs in the fifth. Rider was able to rally back in the sixth by scoring four runs. The rally included two RBI singles by freshman Ken Kremer and senior Steve Galella.
Albee was able to stretch the lead to two in the seventh by bunting and making it all the way to third on a throwing error. He would later score after a sac fly by Wayman.
Giordano pitched a strong 2 2/3 scoreless innings for Rider. He has allowed only one run and seven hits in his last 15 innings.
“Each individual has to keep working on making themselves a better player,” Davis said. “Every day you can improve your game and we try to stress it.”
A three-game MAAC series against Canisius is next on the schedule for the Broncs. The series will begin with a doubleheader on Saturday.
Rider is the defending champion of the MAAC, and they are moving full speed ahead in hopes of defending that title.
“There is no pressure if you prepare and get yourself ready to play,” Davis said. “We have guys that have been in this position before and it’s nothing most of these guys haven’t seen. They just need to play their best.”
Currently, Rider is in second place at 10-5 in the MAAC while Canisius is in third place at 6-4.
“The season is basically a three-week season now. We are in position; we just have to finish,” Davis said.