Broncs open up season with 3-1 series win

By Benjamin Shinault

RIDER baseball continued a strong start to its 2023 campaign, emerging victorious in its lone game against Lafayette before taking two of three on the road against the Delaware Blue Hens over the weekend. With conference play approaching, the Broncs are 7-4 in their first 11 games. 

Leaving Lafayette victorious

In the wake of losing a trying series to the Oklahoma Sooners last weekend, the Broncs had to get back their winning streak. They did exactly that against the Lafayette College Leopards winning the one-game set 4-3 on March 1.

Freshman pitcher P.J. Craig was given the keys to the start of the game. In his one appearance so far this season, he pitched one inning and struck out two.

Against Lafayette, Craig was just as solid as he pitched three full innings and only allowed two walks, two earned runs and two hits for his first start as a Bronc. 

Head Coach Barry Davis liked what he saw from the young buck. “For his first start, he did good,” Davis said. “He pitched through some adversity.”

On the offensive side for the Broncs, junior infielder Jordan Erbe, who earned Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Player of the Week, was a force to be reckoned with as he had three of the team’s eight hits and a run scored.

“My approach going into the game was really to simplify and center myself,” said Erbe. “Being aggressive, while trying to hit each pitch where it was pitched.”

The game ended up going into extra innings tied at three but with senior outfielder Brendan O’Donnell at the plate with the bases loaded, Leopards pitcher Trace Florio allowed a walk which scored the winning run for the Broncs.

Bashing the Blue Hens

Coming off their extra-inning win, the Broncs drove west to take on the Delaware Blue Hens in a three-game set. 

The expectation heading into this one was to take it one game at a time and they did just that, winning two out of three.

Game 1

The blustering winds were present in Newark, Delaware, for this out-of-conference game between the Broncs and the Blue Hens. Although, it seems as if the winds only helped the Broncs’ starting pitcher, senior Dylan Heine.

Heine received the start, marking his third of the season. Heine was pitching a shutout through the first six innings but gave up a two-run shot from in the seventh. This was the conclusion to Heine’s start, but the damage was already done. He finished with four strikeouts and only two earned runs. “Dylan [Heine] threw strikes, commanded his off-speed well, he was as good as ever,” said Davis.

Offensively, the Broncs were just as electric, as they finished the game with 11 hits and seven runs. Senior infielder Jack Winsett was responsible for two of those runs after he had a swinging bunt to short in the seventh inning which allowed a run to score and shortly after, in the ninth, Winsett brought in another run through a single. 

Winsett, being a veteran at the plate, knew what the Blue Hens were going to attack him with at the plate during game one, saying “They like to attack hitters with fastball, so I knew I had to be aggressive early.” 

Winsett and others were key to winning the first game by a score of 7-6. 

Game 2

Succeeding an elite pitching performance from Heine, the Broncs got another dominant showing in the second game of the series, this time at the hands of graduate student pitcher Frank Doelling. 

Doelling pitched a no hitter through the first five innings and then gave up a triple to right center field which allowed two Blue Hens to score. But outside of that one hiccup, Doelling was a force to be reckoned with when it came to his abilities. 

“It was a big lift for us,” Davis said of Doelling’s performance. 

Despite the 10-strikeout game from Doelling, the Broncs offense wanted to impress and they ended up scoring 10 runs. A bulk of the 10 runs came in the sixth inning when the offense chalked up four runs on the scorecard. Winsett got the party started in the sixth with a single that scored junior infielder Brian Skettini. Senior infielder John Volpe followed up with a sacrifice fly to center to score another Bronc and then senior outfielder Scott Shaw got a single of his own. 

The party continued the following inning where the Broncs put up another four runs. Erbe singled to left field which allowed two Broncs to score. 

With the offense flourishing and Doelling making easy work of the Blue Hens lineup, the Broncs won 10-2 with the potential for a sweep. 

Game 3

The series sweep did not happen. Game three was tough for the Broncs as they lost 13-2. The team allowed 10 hits and nine walks. 

Sophomore Brian Young got the start for the Broncs making his third start of the season. Young has run into trouble this year and his early season struggles followed him to Delaware as he allowed six earned runs.

At the plate, it was just as disappointing as the Broncs only tallied up five hits and two runs. The two runs came from a sacrifice fly from Erbe and a grounder from Volpe in the second. 

The Broncs, despite the loss, had a successful weekend of baseball and look to continue that trend when they face Fairleigh Dickinson on March 8 at 2:30 p.m.

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