By Ryan Connelly
A tough stretch continued for the baseball team as it lost, 11-0, to Princeton on April 17 and dropped both games of a doubleheader at Georgetown on April 20. Rider also lost to St. Joseph’s, 13-7, on April 23.
In the first contest of the two-game series, the Hoyas had a fire sparked within their offense and scored eight runs in the first two innings. The Broncs were scoreless until the top of the fifth inning when junior infielder Kyle Johnson grounded out and allowed junior outfielder Sebastian Williamson to score.
“We have struggled finishing innings,” said Head Coach Barry Davis. “A high majority of the runs we’ve given up are with two outs. Therefore, big innings have occurred much more than we would like.”
Johnson emphasized the importance of staying focused and putting together a complete game.
“As a whole, myself included, we need to play all nine innings and try to avoid the big inning,” said Johnson. “We can’t let the little things affect us and try to control what you can control.”
With RBIs from senior infielder Richie Tecco and freshman infielder David Bermudez, the Broncs cut the lead down to 11-3 in the first half of the fifth inning. In the bottom of the sixth, Georgetown tacked on its last run of the game.
Senior first baseman Riley Mihalik gave Rider some life with his solo home run in the eighth inning.
The Broncs could not complete the comeback, only scoring one run in the ninth inning and losing to the Hoyas 12-7 in game one.
The starting pitcher for the game, sophomore Vincent Vitacco threw three innings before he was taken out. He allowed 11 runs, four walks and recorded three strikeouts. Throughout both games, Rider used eight pitchers total.
“We needed to get certain guys [innings], but we made moves based on situations as well. We are trying to win ball games,” said Davis.
The second game on the day was a much closer contest but Rider still fell short to Georgetown’s high powered offense, 10-9.
Sophomore pitcher Joe Papeo got the start in the second game and was able to avoid a big inning, only allowing one run in the first.
“I thought [Vitacco and Papeo] gave us their best,” said Davis. “Neither had their best stuff, so to speak. They both need to continue to work hard as conference games loom big.”
Papeo allowed four runs, four walks and struck out three batters before he was taken out after three innings.
The Broncs offense was able to obtain the lead early, up 3-1 in the end of the third via an RBI from Williamson and two from junior infielder Zach Fick.
The Hoyas retaliated with four runs in the third and took back the lead, 5-3. The lead changed five times over the course of the seven inning game.
Rider took the lead back with two RBI each from Fick and Johnson in the sixth and seventh innings and headed to the seventh-inning stretch with a 9-5 lead.
“I feel I played better in the second game both offensively and defensively,” said Johnson. “I feel I could have done more in both games to help the team win.”
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Georgetown hit a three-run blast to left field and reached on an error by Rider’s outfield and took the lead, 10-9, and sealed the victory.
Rider sits at 13-25 overall and 4-8 in the MAAC and remain one game out of sixth place with crucial conference play inching closer. Its next conference contests will be a three game set away at Quinnipiac on April 27.
“Even after our struggles, we still remain one game out of sixth place with 12 to go and all against teams who are likely to make the tournament,” said Davis. “[We must] be consistent in all three areas: pitching, defense and timely hitting for every inning and continue to play hard with a heightened awareness.”