2013 Baseball Outlook
The Broncs are picked to finish third in the nine-team Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference this year, after a fourth place finish last season.
Last year the young Broncs, with three freshmen and two or three sophomores in the line-up, turned around a 9-22 start to win 13 of their final 23 games to reach the four-team MAAC tournament for the fifth consecutive year.
Rider hosts the MAAC tournament this year at Mercer County's Arm & Hammer Field.
Rider lost centerfielder Brandon Cotten to graduation last year. Cotten graduated with 209 hits, sixth most ever at Rider, and 141 runs scored, seventh most ever at Rider, while being one of Rider's finest defensive outfielders of all time.
Rider returns two preseason All-MAAC selections, senior outfielder Ian Lindsay (Oaklyn, NJ/Haddon Township) and senior third baseman Adam Wayman (Wilkes-Barre, PA/G.A.R. Memorial), along with the 2012 MAAC Pitcher of the Year, junior Mike Murphy (Hamilton, NJ/Peddie) and senior pitcher Tyler Smith (Westmont, N.J./Haddon Township).
Wayman enters the season with 166 career hits, 34th most ever at Rider. Last year he was a Second Team All-New Jersey selection, starting 55 games and leading the team with 63 hits and 36 runs scored, along with 13 doubles. He also had 30 RBI and was named to the MAAC All-Tournament team.
Lindsay was a First Team All-MAAC selection last year as a designated hitter but is expected to play leftfield this year. Lindsay led the 2012 team with a .339 batting average, including a .375 average against MAAC pitchers.
Murphy made 14 starts on the mound for the 2012 Broncs in his first season back from Tommy John surgery and led the team in innings pitched and wins. The Rider Athlete of the Year, Murphy went 5-1 in eight starts with a 3.49 ERA in conference play.
Smith was a 2012 Preseason All-American as a closer but made the switch to starter last year and finished the season with six complete games in eight starts. Smith finished 5-5 with three saves and an earned run average of 3.72.
Other key returnees include junior outfielders Jerry Mulderig (Langhorne, Pa./Council Rock HS South) and Nick Crescenzo (Hammonton, N.J./Hammonton) and sophomore middle infielders Greg Fazio (Far Hills, N.J./Ridge) and Mike Parsons (Liverpool, N.Y./Liverpool).
Mulderig was named the team's Most Improved Player in 2012, making 36 starts in the outfield and 10 appearances on the mound in relief. Mulderig drove in 30 runs on the year, second most on the team, and batted .316 with a team-high 20 runs in 23 conference games.
Crescenzo was the MAAC Rookie of the Year and a Freshman All-American in 2011, and collected 54 more hits last year to give him 109 in just two years. The speedy junior is expected to play centerfield this year, replacing Cotten.
Fazio (second base) and Parsons (shortstop) made up the youngest double play combination in the MAAC last year and combined for 93 hits, 60 runs scored and 281 assists.
Other key returnees include sophomore first baseman Justin Thomas (Richboro, Pa./Council Rock HS South), sophomore catcher Eric Strano (Robbinsville, N.J./Robbinsville) and sophomore pitchers Kurt Sowa (Bensalem, Pa./Father Judge), Eric Thomas (Dallastown, Pa./Dallastown Area) and Zach Mawson (Magnolia, Del./Caesar Rodney).
Justin Thomas was named to the 2012 NJCBA All-Rookie team, making 30 starts, and was third on the team in batting (.299 average) and second on team in homeruns.
Strano started 38 games behind the plate as a rookie and his .391 on base percentage was fourth best on the team.
Sowa was named to the 2012 NJCBA All-Rookie team, making 14 starts on the mound and is expected to be Rider's third starter this year. His five victories last year was tied for second best on the team.
Eric Thomas is expected to be Rider's fourth starter this year. The 6'4" lefty made 20 appearances in relief last year and opponents batted just .176 against him, the best on the Rider squad.
The season begins February 22 with a three-game series at Norfolk State. After a three game series at Radford, Rider will host Lafayette in Flemington March 5 and host Lehigh on Rider's Sonny Pittaro Field March 8.