By Tom Regan
Following a three-win home stand that included an in-conference series win against Marist (9-23, 2-7 MAAC) on April 5 and 6 and a 13-3 victory against NJIT (10-15) on April 9, the baseball team was handed three losses at St. Peter’s on April 12 and 13.
Despite senior pitcher Kyle Kennett’s six innings of one-run ball in which he allowed only four hits and struck out four, Rider (10-19, 3-4 MAAC) was shut out.
Rider struggled to get its offense going as senior pitcher Zack Hopf struck out 13 batters in eight innings of work for the Peacocks (10-21, 5-6 MAAC) to help defeat the Broncs by a score of 3-0.
Senior shortstop Mike Parsons believes the lack of playmaking and failure to get the big hits was the reason the Broncs lost.
“The difference was St. Peter’s made plays when they needed to and got timely hitting, while we failed to do both,” Parsons said.
The Broncs did their best to recover from the four-run first inning in game two by scoring two runs in the top of the third inning.
The inning began with a leadoff double for sophomore outfielder James Locklear, followed by sophomore catcher Connor Luff’s infield single to put runners on the corners with no one out.
Following sophomore outfielder Brian Donnelley’s strikeout, the Broncs’ junior third baseman Nick Richter flied out to center field, allowing Locklear to tag up and score. After Luff advanced to second on a balk, freshman outfielder Giovanni Gussen singled him home to pull the Broncs within two.
The bottom of the fifth inning saw the Peacocks pull away with three runs, moving their lead to 7-2. However, the Broncs quickly pushed three runs across in the top of the sixth to pull back within two.
St. Peter’s scored a run in the bottom of the sixth inning that would prove to be the difference in the game. Despite the two-run seventh, the Broncs lost by a score of 8-7.
Senior pitcher Kurt Sowa gave up two runs over 5.2 innings with seven strikeouts, but was outdueled by St. Peter’s sophomore pitcher John Leiter, who held the Broncs to one run through six innings before handing the ball over to the bullpen. The Broncs lost the game 6-1 as they put only one man on base over the last three innings.
Sowa, who was handed the loss despite his strong performance, does not blame his team for the lack of run support.
“Everyone is trying their best out there and giving the team their full effort so that’s all you can ask for,” Sowa said.
Rider will return to its home field for a game against Wagner (8-21, 5-3 NEC) on April 16 before hosting an in-conference series against Niagara (10-21, 3-7 MAAC) on April 18 and 19.
Sowa is confident the Broncs will become more consistent and believes the team will find the success it had in past seasons.
“We’ve shown glimpses here and there all season, and we have a team that has had a lot of success in the past,” Sowa said. “There’s no question that we’re going to get things turned around quickly and get back to the top of the league.”