Mayberry's Walk-Off Homer Rallies Rider Past Niagara

Courtesy: Rider Sports Information
Release: April 14, 2017
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Courtesy: Peter G. Borg (Rider University)

LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ – Senior outfielder Dalton Mayberry (Chadds Ford, PA/Marist College/Cumberland CC/Garnet Valley) hit a two-run, walk-off home run as the Rider University baseball team rallied to defeat visiting Niagara, 2-1, on Friday afternoon in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) action at Sonny Pittaro Field. The Broncs (14-16, 6-4 MAAC) won their fifth straight conference contest, while the Purple Eagles (17-12, 7-3 MAAC) saw their six-game league winning streak come to an end.

Trailing by a run at 1-0, Rider rallied thanks to Mayberry’s blast to right field for the walk-off win. With Niagara closer Matt McCuen on the mound, Bronc sophomore designated hitter Riley Mihalik (Churchville, PA/Chestnut Hill Academy) started the frame with a two-strike single up the middle. Mayberry was the next batter and he turned on a 3-1 pitch, sending into over the fence in right to give Rider their sixth MAAC win of the spring.

Niagara opened the scoring in the top of eighth as first basemen Peter Battaglia hit an RBI triple to deep left center.

Offensively, Mihalik and freshman leadoff hitter Kyle Johnson (Jackson, NJ/Jackson Memorial) led the charge for the hosts. Mihalik and Johnson both went 2-for-3 with a walk to account for four of the team’s six hits. The big blow came in the ninth by Mayberry as his second homer of the year pushed Rider past Niagara.

On the mound, freshman Pete Soporowski (South Amboy, NJ/Sayreville War Memorial) tossed a gem to earn a no-decision. He threw eight innings and allowed just one earned run, while striking out five hitters and scattering four hits. In relief, senior Josh Sharik (Ewing, NJ/Plumstead Christian School) tossed .2 innings to earn his second win of 2017.

“I think the play of the game was Tecco’s catch,” Rider Head Coach Barry Davis said of Richie Tecco’s diving play with runners on second and third and one out in the eighth. “That catch saved two runs and saved the game for us.”

“Pete pitched phenomenal,” Davis added. “When you get a first game start like that without having to use your bullpen it’s big. Pete was outstanding. He’s getting better and better. He moved the ball around and he’s getting some confidence.”

“It’s pretty exciting to watch,” Davis noted about the walk-off homer. “It’s good for them. I think we needed that.”

- On Monday, sophomore shortstop Richie Tecco was tabbed as the College Sports Madness MAAC Player of the Week. It marked the first time in his career he was honored for his play on the field.
- On Tuesday, catcher Lee Lipinski was named the MAAC Player of the Week as announced by the league office and freshman pitcher John Yocum was honored as the MAAC Rookie of the Week. It was the first time receiving weekly accolades for both Lipinski and Yocum.
- It marked the second walk-off win in conference play for the Broncs. Both wins in the ninth have come in conference play in the first game of the series.
- From the end of the fifth to the start of the eighth inning, Soporowski retired seven straight Purple Eagles. He set the side down in order in the first, sixth and seventh frames. It marked the longest start of Soporowski’s career as his previous best was a 7.0 inning outing at home versus Farfield on March 24. It marked the first start of Soporowski’s career in which he posted a WHIP of 1.00 or lower.
- Over his last two starts, Soporowski has tossed 13.0 innings, allowed two earned runs and struck out seven batters.
- Rider pitchers retired the final five batters they faced.

- Mike Volaski has now hit doubles in back-to-back games and three of his last four. He is now tied for the team lead with seven two-baggers in 2017.
- Josh Sharik made his team-leading 18th appearance out of the bullpen for Rider. He retired both the batters he faced, striking out one.
- Senior reliever Mike Diorio got the only batter he faced out in the ninth, inducing a fly ball to shallow left center.
- Rider stole three bases in the game. It marked the fourth straight contest where the Broncs stole three or more bases.

Rider and Niagara conclude their three-game weekend series on Saturday, April 15, with a doubleheader that is set to get underway at noon. The first game of the day is slated for seven innings and the finale is schedule for nine innings. Toeing the rubber for the Broncs will be Nick Margevicius and John Yocum.

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