Rider Rallies For Walk-Off Win Versus Fairfield

Courtesy: Rider Sports Information
Release: March 24, 2017
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Courtesy: Brian David Solomon (Rider University)
LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ – Junior Christian Estevez (River Edge, NJ/River Dell) delivered a pinch-hit RBI single down the left-field line to give the Rider University baseball team a 6-5 walk-off win against Fairfield on Friday afternoon in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) action at Sonny Pittaro Field. The Broncs (8-10, 1-0 MAAC) have now won back-to-back games, while the Stags (5-11, 0-1 MAAC) have dropped two in a row.

Trailing, 5-1, entering the home half of the fifth inning, Rider would score the final five runs of the game to earn their third win in the last four contests versus Fairfield. Freshman leadoff hitter Kyle Johnson (Jackson, NJ/Jackson Memorial) started the rally with a two-out, two-run homer to left center to bring the Broncs to within two at 5-3 in the fifth.

In the eighth inning, the Broncs would tie it at five courtesy of a two-out, two-run triple down the right-field line by senior Tyler Kaiser (Moorestown, NJ/Moorestown). With the potential game-winning run at third, Stag reliever Mike Bonaiuto got out of the jam by inducing an inning-ending ground out.

After Rider reliever Josh Sharik (Ewing, NJ/Plumstead Christian School) worked a scoreless top of the ninth, Jake Bender (Ellicott City, MD/Marriotts Ridge) started the ninth with a single center. A sac bunt would move Bender into scoring position with one out and following an intentional walk to Johnson, Estevez sent the first pitch he saw down the left-field line to bring the game-winning run racing home.

On the mound, Sharik worked two innings of scoreless relief to earn his first win of the season. Sharik allowed just one hit and fanned a pair of Stags. Freshman lefty Pete Soporowski (South Amboy, NJ/Sayrevile War Memorial) got the start for the Broncs and he tossed seven innings. He struck out a career-high six batter and scattered six hits, while allowing five runs, only two of which were earned. 

“It’s a good win for us,” Rider Head Coach Barry Davis said. “Pete pitched well and then we got to Sharik and he was able to hold it. We have guys who can do things. When we put them in and give them the opportunity you see why they are in the game.”

“From the get go Pete was able to change speeds and keep the ball down,” Davis added. “He kept them off balance and he was able to pitch inside. Today he showed why we think he’s going to be a good pitcher.”

- The start was the longest of Soporowski’s young career. His 6-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio was also a career-best. 
- Richie Tecco had his first multi-hit game of the season, going 2-for-3 with a run scored for Rider. After recording three hits over the first nine games, Tecco has now had at least one hit in five straight contests. 
- Kaiser’s triple was his second of the season. He now leads the Broncs with 12 RBIs. 

- Johnson leads the team with 23 hits. He recorded his first career three RBI game on Friday. He is in the midst of a four-game hitting streak. During the streak, he is hitting .467 (7-for-15) with four RBIs and three runs scored.
- Sharik has made a team-high 11 appearances out of the bullpen. He has gone 2.2 innings without allowing a run over his last two appearances. His two strikeouts tied a season-best. 

Rider and Fairfield conclude their three-game series on Saturday, March 25, with a doubleheader that is slated to begin at 11:00 am. Game one will be a seven-inning contest with Nick Margevicius toeing the rubber for the Broncs and Paul Sparano gets the start for Rider in the finale.
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