Baseball Home Opener Friday
Broncs Host Purple Eagles to Begin MAAC Play
The Rider baseball team will host Niagara University in a three-game Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference series this weekend on the Sonny Pittaro Field.
The games were moved up to Friday-Saturday rather than the scheduled Saturday-Sunday format due to the expected rain Saturday evening and Sunday. Friday's game will start at 3:30pm and the Saturday doubleheader moves up to a 10am start.
"We've got a big series this weekend," said Rider head coach Barry Davis. "These are the games that are going to take us where we want to go, so we're going to have to play."
Rider (5-13, 0-0 MAAC) has been led by a pair of veteran outfielders, senior Brandon Cotten (Wiconisco, Pa./Williams Valley) and junior Ian Lindsay (Oaklyn/Haddon Twp.), and a pair of rookie middle infielders, freshman Mike Parsons (Liverpool, NY) and freshman Greg Fazio (Far Hills/Ridge).
Cotten, an All-MAAC centerfielder, is batting .314 this season with a team-high 22 hits in 18 games. He enters the weekend series with 170 career hits, 25th most ever at Rider, and 122 runs scored, 16th most ever at Rider.
Lindsay leads the team with a .327 batting average in his first season as a starter, with 17 hits in 17 games.
Parsons, the new Bronc second baseman, was named the MAAC Rookie of the Week and has already turned seven double plays this year. Parsons compiled 17 hits in his first 18 collegiate games.
Fazio, the new Bronc shortstop, has a team-high 51 assists already and is second on the team in runs scored and is third on the squad in doubles, fourth in RBI, and has 17 hits in 18 games.
Preseason All-American junior Tyler Smith (Westmont/Haddon Twp.), an All-East closer last season, has three saves already this year, giving him 27 for his career, and owns the team's best earned run average at 1.38.
Niagara (7-11, 0-0 MAAC) is led by junior first baseman Ryan McCauley, who is batting .427 with 32 hits, including eight home runs and nine doubles.
Drew Fittry is the Purple Eagle ace, owning a 3-0 record on the mound.
Rider and Niagara have met 40 times since the series began in 1997 with Rider winning 28. Last season Rider won all three games when Niagara was the "home team" at Rider due to snow in Western New York. In 2010 the Purple Eagles visited Lawrenceville and Niagara won the series two games to one.
Rider is home again Tuesday to host Seton Hall and Wednesday to host George Mason.