Broncs Split a MAAC Doubleheader at Iona

Courtesy: Rider Sports Information
Release: April 02, 2017
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Courtesy: Peter G. Borg (Rider University)
New Rochelle, NY – The Rider University baseball team spilt a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) doubleheader with Iona on Sunday afternoon at City Park. The Broncs (9-15, 2-4 MAAC) fell in the opener, 6-4, to the Gaels (9-11, 3-3 MAAC) before taking the finale, 10-8. With their win in game one, host Iona secured the series triumph.

In the opener, Iona erased a one-run deficit with a three-run rally in the home half of the sixth. During that frame, the Gaels took advantage of a pair of Rider errors to bring the go-ahead run in with just one hit in the stanza.

Trailing by two at 3-1 in the fifth inning, Rider took its second one-run lead of the opener courtesy of a three-run outburst. In the rally, freshman leadoff hitter Kyle Johnson (Jackson, NJ/Jackson Memorial) came around to score on an Iona throwing error and senior outfielder Tyler Kaiser (Moorestown, NJ/Moorestown) delivered a two-out, two-run single up the middle.

The back-and-forth nightcap saw the team’s combine for 18 runs, 21 hits, three errors and 12 runners left on base. The Broncs erased a four-run deficit with six unanswered runs over the seventh and eighth innings to snap their three-game conference losing streak.

In the top of the seventh, Rider came charging back to tie the game at eight thanks to four straight run-scoring hits from Riley Mihalik (Churchville, PA/Chestnut Hill Academy), Harrison McClure (Atlanta, GA/South Florida State/North Atlanta), Lee Lipinski ( Glen Arm, MD/Calvert Hall) and Kaiser. In the following frame, Mihalik was a hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to bring the eventual game-winning run home and McClure hit a sac fly to right on the ensuing at-bat to give the guests a two-run cushion.

Offensively Johnson led the attack in the opener, 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Kaiser had a big hit for the Broncs as well, smacking a single that plated a pair in the fifth. In game two, four Broncs had multi-hit games, highlighted by 4-for-4 performance from Kaiser to cap off his stellar week. In four games over the past seven days, Kaiser hit .600. Both McClure and Mihalik had two RBIs apiece in the finale for the Broncs.

On the mound, Dylan Simcik (Newtown, PA/Holy Ghost Prep) was saddled with the loss in the opener. He surrendered two earned runs and did not allow a hit, while walking one batter. Simcik moved to 3-1 on the year. Junior Paul Sparano (Ewing, NJ/Ewing) got the start for Rider in game one and had a no-decision after tossing 4.2 innings and allowing three earned runs.

In game two, reliever Mike Diorio (Middletown, NJ/Middletown HS South) threw 3.1 innings of scoreless relief to pick up his first win of the season. Diorio didn’t allow a hit and struck out one Gael. Freshman Pete Soporowski (South Amboy, NJ/Sayreville War Memorial) got the start for the Broncs in game two. 

“Salvaging a game was big,”Rider Head Coach Barry Davis said. "Diorio was outstanding out of the bullpen. We needed someone to close out the game and he did just that."
"If we can close innings we will eliminate the big inning," Davis added. "A lot of runs we give up are with two outs. It's attitude and we need to figure that out. 2-4 in the conference not where we want to be or need to be."

- Johnson’s two multi-hit games were his first in conference play in 2017. He now has a team-high 10 multi-hit games on the season. He accounted for two of the team’s seven hits in the opener. He leads the team with 30 hits this season. 
- Mihalik’s multi-RBI game in the finale was his third of the season and his first in conference play. 
- McClure’s multi-RBI game was the first of his career in MAAC play and his second overall on the season. 
- Diorio was the only Rider pitcher all series to not allow a run. In one inning of work in game one on Sunday, Andrew Tumbelty allowed one unearned run. 

- Earlier this week, Lipinski was named to 2017 Johnny Bench Award watch list. He is one of four catchers in the MAAC to be on the watch list. 
- Freshman Joe Simone picked up his first career RBI in game two courtesy of single to left field in the sixth.
- Johnson stole second in the fifth-inning of game two. He has a team-high eight stolen bases. He has eight of the team’s 19 stolen bases this season. No other Bronc has more than four. 
- Kaiser’s four-hit game in the finale was the first of his career. 

Rider returns to action Tuesday, April 4, with a road, non-conference showdown against Lehigh that is slated to begin at 3:00 pm as part of the Liberty Bell Classic at J David Walker Field at Legacy Park. The Broncs and Mountain Hawks split a pair of extra-inning contests last season with each squad winning at home in walk-off fashion. 
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