Rocky road trip for the Broncs, swept by ETSU

By Benjamin Shinault

Just a week after getting swept by East Carolina, Rider had yet another road trip. This time around, the Broncs traveled to East Tennessee State to face off against the Buccaneers on Feb. 23. 

To the dismay of the Broncs, they were swept once again in a three-game set, being outscored 19-6 across one game on Feb. 23 and two on Feb. 25. 

After the series loss, Rider dropped to 0-6 to start the season, its worst start since 2016. 

‘We hit the ball hard’

Coming off his latest start against East Carolina where he gave up seven earned runs, three walks and two home runs, sophomore pitcher PJ Craig was eager to get back on the mound. This time around, Craig was much improved as he tossed 5.2 innings, allowed just five hits and struck out two batters.

“PJ was excellent,” Head Coach Barry Davis said to Rider Athletics.“He gave us a chance to win.”

In the series against East Carolina, the Broncs struggled to swing the bat; in game one of the East Tennessee matchup, the bats were still dormant as the Broncs only totaled five hits and one run, which came off a single from graduate student outfielder Justin Costanzo. 

“ETSU made some great plays to help their pitchers out, but overall, we played well,” Davis said.

Double header, double trouble

The weather in Tennessee on Feb. 24 was not suitable for playing baseball as  both teams decided to postpone the game to Feb. 25 and play a doubleheader.

Brisk weather was present in Johnson City, Tennessee, with temperatures dipping below 40 degrees, but despite that, the Broncs might have had their best offensive performance yet. 

The Broncs were able to score four runs and put nine runners on base off three hits, four walks and two home runs.

Pitching was once again solid for the Broncs and they were within striking distance throughout the whole game. Freshman pitcher Jake Dorety, who was making his second start of the season, was able to go four innings but he did struggle with locating his pitches as he walked four Buccaneers in as many innings.

The other pitcher that emerged from the bullpen for the Broncs was sophomore Christian Aiello who did a stellar job. Aiello went four innings, struck out three batters and allowed only one run on only one hit.

Despite all these positives, the Broncs still couldn’t get the win. However, things got interesting in the late frame when graduate student first baseman Luke Lesch stepped into the batter’s box in the top of the ninth. With two runners on and the Broncs down four, Lesch punished a ball over the left field fence at Thomas Stadium.

“It was nice to get my first one of the year out of the way but a loss is a loss … we were looking for a bounce back, but it didn’t happen,” Lesch said.

The Broncs had another opportunity in the last game of the doubleheader and the last game of the series, but it did not bode well for the Broncs as they got crushed 11-1. In total, the Broncs gave up 11 runs and 18 hits. 

“Well, I can say we have plenty of work ahead of us,” Davis said. 

Rider only amounted three hits, committed two errors and scored only one run off a sacrifice fly to center field from sophomore outfielder Anthony Paskell. During the rough housing put on by the Buccaneers, the Broncs struck out 15 times.

The Broncs pitching staff performed just the same as the Broncs offense. Rider used five of their pitchers with junior pitcher Brian Young starting it off. Young, who had a rough start against East Carolina struggled once again as he allowed 10 hits, five earned runs and six runs. Outside of Young, the Broncs other pitchers hung in there but the damage was already done. 

With back to back series losses, the Broncs are looking forward to getting another opportunity to get their first win of the season. 

Rider’s next opponent will be against UMBC. The Broncs will face off against the Retrievers on Mar. 1 at 3 p.m.

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