Rider takes two of three against Manhattan

By Carolo Pascale and Andrew Smolar

Rider baseball notched two wins in four action-packed games, defeating the Manhattan Jaspers 6-4 on April 22 and 11-1 on April 23, before falling 7-5 in game three of the series on April 24, and then lost again to Seton Hall 6-2 on April 26.

Stress in the series opener

Game one of the three game series ended in a close victory for the Broncs, who survived the late attack of the Jaspers, edging them out 6-4.

“We gave up too many opportunities,” said Head Coach Barry Davis. “I thought we swung the bat well early. We didn’t get much help out of the bullpen. It was like we were in control, but we weren’t in control.”

The Broncs were looking to bounce back from a difficult weekend against Niagara, and they got off to a decent start in game one, with graduate student Joe Papeo on the mount once again. 

The first run of the game came when the Broncs hit three singles to center field in the second inning, which allowed junior outfielder Scott Shaw to score, putting the Broncs up 1-0. This was Shaw’s first game back from injury.

The Broncs scored two more times in the bottom of the second, putting the Broncs up 3-0 early.

The bottom of the fifth saw the Broncs score once again, this time coming off a deep single to right by junior first base Luke Lesch, which allowed Bardatsos to score, making it a 4-0 ballgame.  

Rider kept the bats swinging in the sixth, scoring two more runs on a single to left by junior infielder John Volpe and a long double by Bardatsos, leaving the Broncs with a comfortable 6-0 lead.  

But just as the Broncs got their lead, the Jaspers woke up and rattled hit after hit to cut the lead all the way down to three runs the very next inning. Manhattan hit five singles to get them back in the game, and just like the Broncs, were able to continue the momentum into the following inning, scoring one more run on a single to right field, making the score 6-4. 

After that, the Broncs were able to compose themselves and close out the game with graduate student Cal Stalzer on the mound, who earned his sixth save of the season, which is tied for 1st in the MAAC.

“It was just mental mistakes,” said Bardatsos. “Our confidence has to be better, and our enthusiasm has to be better.”

Badatsos hit 3-of-4, and both him and Volpe had two RBIs. Papeo allowed seven hits through 6.1 innings pitched before coming out in the seventh inning. 

Broncs send five to the moon

Riding off the momentum of the game one win, the Broncs walked back onto the repainted base paths of Sonny Pittaro Field and promptly walked the Jaspers off them with a five home run, 11-1 victory.

The Broncs started their decimation of the Jaspers off early, with Lesch hitting another RBI single to get the Broncs on the board 1-0. The Broncs scored again off of a ground out to third base before the Broncs’ bomber, junior outfielder Brendan O’Donnell, stepped into the box. 

“They were pounding me inside, which I really hadn’t seen all year; everything’s pretty much been soft away on me all year and yesterday,” said O’Donnell, “So I took that and backed up off the plate a little bit.”

O’Donnell promptly crushed a hanging curveball deep out the back wall for a ridiculous 416 foot, three-run home run, giving the Broncs a 5-0 lead after just one inning. 

Meanwhile, on the mound, senior Frank Doelling was throwing gas with six strikeouts through three innings. 

In the bottom of the third, O’Donnell whacked the first pitch he saw out of the park for his second home run of the game, giving the Broncs a 6-0 lead.

From then until the bottom of the seventh, it was the Doelling show, with him throwing four more strikeouts. 

“I struggled a little bit earlier in the year with my command and stuff like that,” said Doelling. “And in the Fairfield start, I really started to get some of my confidence back… then today, just trusting the process of what I’ve been doing the last few weeks.”

That bottom of the seventh saw the Broncs hit their third home run of the game, this time coming from Skettini. The two-run homer, hit to left field, put the Broncs up 8-0. 

After Doelling dealt out 10 strikeouts through seven innings, he was replaced by senior Frank DelGuercio. Just a few pitches later, the Jaspers finally got on the board with a solo home run, making it an 8-1 game. 

But scoring that run seemed to just make the Broncs bats even more hungry, as Bardatsos hit a long two-run home run, and Lesch hit a 427 foot moonshot that would have gone out of every MLB ballpark. The two runs were on back-to-back pitches and gave the Broncs a 11-1 lead that was the final score.

‘Wasted opportunities’

Rider dropped the final game of the weekend series with Manhattan on Sunday afternoon. The Broncs ended up dropping the finale in a 7-5 decision.

The highlight of the day offensively for the Broncs came in the bottom of the second. Five hits and a walk led to a 5-2 lead for Rider after two innings of play.

Unfortunately for the Broncs, they couldn’t score any more runs the rest of the game. Despite finishing the game with 13 hits, the five run second proved to be all the offense they could muster. Neither team scored a run after the fifth inning.

“Too many wasted opportunities,” said Davis. “I am disappointed in the final outcome. On a positive note, we won the series. A big week ahead with five games, all on the road. A tremendous challenge awaits.”

One bright spot for Rider was its relief pitching. Junior Dylan Heine and Senior Danny Kirwin combined to give the Broncs 5.2 innings of no earned runs allowed.

On April 27, Rider took a bus ride to South Orange, New Jersey for an afternoon bout with the Seton Hall Pirates, who handed the Broncs a 6-2 loss.

The Pirates’ earned their six runs by amassing 15 hits as a team, completely wrangling the Rider bullpen. Junior pitcher Kenny Quijano started the game for the Broncs, allowing seven hits and three earned runs in just 3.0 innings pitched.

The Broncs will get little rest as they turn right back around to face Penn on April 27 before getting another shot at MAAC competition next weekend when they travel to face in-state rival Monmouth for a three game weekend series starting on April 29.

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