Swept in Va., cold bats hold Broncs back

Junior infielder Greg Fazio had seven total hits from Feb. 28 – March 2 against Liberty and Ball State.

By Thomas Albano

Rider (2-6) recently traveled to Lynchburg, Va., from Feb. 28 – March 2 and played two games each against Liberty and Ball State. The Broncs were swept the entire weekend, losing all four games.

Senior outfielder Nick Crescenzo attributed the struggles of the weekend to inconsistent performance by the team, especially when it came to hitting.

“We weren’t putting all three phases of the game together,” Crescenzo said. “If we pitched and played good defense, our bats were cold. We struggled to get clutch hits with two outs. We didn’t hit consistent enough, and the last game against Liberty, we were outplayed in every aspect of the game.”

The Feb. 28 game against Ball State (9-3) saw the Broncs out-hit the Cardinals 8-6, with senior designated hitter Ken Kremer and sophomore outfielder James Locklear each having two hits. However, the Broncs struggled to get key hits with runners in scoring position that contributed to the 4-1 Rider loss.

The next day, Rider played a doubleheader, taking on Liberty (6-6) in the first game before having a rematch with Ball State. In the game against Liberty, junior pitcher Zach Mawson gave up seven hits and allowed only three runs.

Hitting, however, again proved to be the Achilles’ heel for Rider. The Broncs had four hits in the game, two of them from junior second baseman Greg Fazio. The Flames would defeat the Broncs 3-1.

Later that day, against Ball State, Rider accumulated 10 hits with Fazio, Kremer and junior third baseman Nick Richter each having two.

However, in the ninth inning, the Broncs had two runners in scoring position with only one out, but could not capitalize. Ball State would win in the 10th.

The conclusion of the weekend’s string of games saw one more game against Liberty that Crescenzo could only describe as the opposition outplaying the Broncs in every aspect of the game. The Broncs were defeated 11-2.

Freshman outfielder Nick Kagel explained that the team’s focus now is putting all the pieces together and coming up with the perfect game plan that will see the Broncs achieve victories.

“We need to improve and get better, and as we do that, the wins will come,” Kagel said. “We know how to play, it’s obvious. It’s just we need to go out and get it done.”

The Broncs will play a three-game series starting March 7-9 against Delaware (4-6) in Newark, Del. The Broncs were scheduled to play their first home game on March 11 against Temple, but the game will be cancelled because of cold weather. Rider’s home opener will now be March 23 against the New Jersey Institute of Technology (3-3).

The team will focus one game at a time. Crescenzo believes that playing on the road against bigger schools presents a good challenge, but it’s always great to play at home.

“Home games are always fun because we are used to playing on our field in front of a home crowd,” Crescenzo said. “Playing on the road at these big schools is tough, but playing at home gives us an advantage because that’s where we practice and what we’re used to.”

Crescenzo thinks by the time the team comes home to take on the Highlanders, the team will be more than ready for the challenge.

“We need to limit the mistakes and hopefully our bats come around by then,” he said.

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