By Andrew Smolar and Luke Lombardi
Rider baseball faced off against nonconference opponent St. John’s on April 1 and April 2, winning two of three games against the Red Storm. The Broncs defeated St. John’s on April 1 13-3 and beat them again on April 2 13-6.
The Broncs earned their fifth consecutive victory on April 1 with a 13-3 victory over visiting St. John’s.
Despite going down 1-0 early, the offense responded in a big way with four runs in the second, three in the third and five in the fourth to completely turn the tide. Head Coach Barry Davis was pleased with how his team responded.
“We had some productive at bats and excellent baserunning during that stretch. We put an emphasis on having positive at bats,” said Davis. “Once we went ahead 12-3 the game settled and we were able to pitch effectively and not let them back in the game.”
It was an especially big game offensively for redshirt sophomore Jordan Erbe who went 2-4 with three RBIs.
“It was a solid team effort today. It definitely felt good to get the bats going early and often,” said Erbe. “I really think we have yet to play our best baseball, which is exciting considering the recent success we have had.”
Despite a rough early start, Rider’s pitching got the job done, allowing only a total of three runs and shutting out St. John’s for the final six innings.
Graduate student Joe Papeo pitched five innings of three-run ball. He then gave way to senior Danny Kirwin and freshman Brian Young who finished the final four innings without giving up a run.
‘Control what we can’
Baseball saw its five-game winning streak come to an end thanks to a 9-0 loss to St. John’s in game one of a doubleheader on April 2.
It was the first time Rider has been shut out in over three weeks, the last time being a March 11 contest with East Tennessee State. The Broncs had just four hits in the seven-inning game.
“We can only control what we can control,” said Davis. “Umpire calls, wind, cold, errors, how the other team plays. We still have to remain focused on one pitch at a time.”
St. John’s had four hits and four runs in the third inning alone. They added five more in the sixth, including a grand slam to provide all the offense they needed in the 9-0 victory.
“I’d say that you know you go out and you try to win every single game you play, but obviously that’s not going to happen,” said redshirt senior Jake Barbiere.
The Broncs finished the day and doubleheader with a bang, winning 13-6 over St. John’s.
By the time a spectator could blink, Rider was already up 5-0 after two innings with runs being scored on a single, double, fly out and ground out. St. John’s tried to come back with a home run in the third, but the Broncs responded with another run of their own.
The two teams went back and forth exchanging runs until junior first baseman Luke Lesch hit a grand slam, putting Rider up 12-3.
“I like our team. I like what we do,” said Davis. “I like the style that we’re playing in. I have to adapt my coaching style to the players that I have because I can’t force guys who can’t run to run. I can’t force guys to bunt who aren’t great bunters, but I can let guys hit who can hit and have guys bunt and run who can.”
The Broncs will travel to the University of Delaware hoping to get revenge for the series loss earlier in the season on April 6, before hosting Fairfield in a MAAC championship rematch from April 8-10.