Rider University 6, Cornell University 0
#8 University of Virginia 12, Rider University 0
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.-Behind six strong innings from senior pitcher Mike Thomas (Forest Hill, Md./Fallston), the Rider University baseball team opened a four-game road trip with a win over Cornell University Friday afternoon in a game hosted by the University of Virginia.
Thomas tied a career-high with 11 strikeouts, while scattering three hits for his second strong outing (and first win) of the season.
"You want to win the first game of any series or road trip, it sets a good tone," said head coach Barry Davis. "I don't think he threw his absolute best but that's a good thing when you are not at your best and still get a shutout. Mike battled his way out of some situations and made the pitches he had to. He had good command of the game. Mike's best is yet to come."
Thomas opened the season with a 10 strikeout, six inning, no decision at East Tennessee State on February 25 and was named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week. Thomas was the MAAC and New Jersey Pitcher of the Year in 2010.
Senior Jeff Giordano (Massapequa Park, N.Y./Massapequa) went the final three innings, recording two strikeouts and allowed only two hits for his first save of the season.
"Jeff did a great job, coming in and throwing strikes," Davis said. "He kept the ball down and was about as good as he has been in his career. He pitched great and gave us the innings we needed. He kept the game in check and then we tacked on two insurance runs."
Rider (2-2) broke a scoreless tie in the second inning on two, two-out RBI singles by junior Brandon Cotten (Wiconisco, Pa./Williams Valley) and senior Karl Johnston (Hamilton/Peddie) with the Broncs plating another run on a Cornell error.
Cotten hit an RBI groundout in the fourth inning as Rider extended the lead to 4-0, scoring senior Steve Galella (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./G.A.R. Memorial) who led off with a double down the left field line. Galella and Cotton each had two hits and two RBI in the game with Galella scoring twice.
"Cotten had a big hit and also getting the runner in on the groundout was also important," Davis said. "Ralston executed a sacrifice bunt to get us into that situation and Brandon got the run across. We are going to have to manufacture runs, especially when Thomas is pitching because when he is on, you don't need five, six or seven runs, you only need one or two and you have to make sure you get them when you can."
Galella hit his second double of the game, a shot to left center, scoring sophomore Adam Wayman (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./G.A.R. Memorial) and senior Mason Heyne (Shrewsbury, Pa./Susquehannock) in the seventh inning for the final score.
"Steve has been solid and over the last several games has given us some big hits," said Davis. "In the games that we have won, he has knocked in the majority of the runs."
"By scoring those runs in the seventh, we were able to stick with Giordano for the final two innings," Davis added. "We have three games (nine innings each) in the next 24 hours so it was important that we didn't burn another pitcher."
Thomas is now 21-10 in his Rider career, the fourth best record all-time as a Bronc behind Ken Minschwaner who went 21-7 in a career that finished in 1953. Thomas has 21 strikeouts in two games this season and 204 in his Bronc career.
In the nightcap, Rider held eighth ranked Virginia to only five hits but gave up 12 walks and made two errors in a 12-0 loss to the Cavaliers.
Virginia starter Danny
Hultzen, the 2010 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Pitcher of the Year,
went seven shutout innings, allowing only two hits while recording 11
"You have to play your 'A' game vs. Virginia," Davis said. "Hultzen is one of the best in the country. They execute and handle the ball and the bat. They are excellent. We must play better in all phases to be able to stay with these guys."
Rider plays Virginia again at 11am on Saturday before playing Cornell at 5pm to complete the four-game stretch. The games originally scheduled for Sunday are being played a day early due to the threat of inclement weather.