Rider University 8, Saint Peter's College 6
LAWRENCEVILLE-Junior Brandon Cotten (Wiconisco, Pa./Williams Valley) hit two home runs and a double to lead Rider to a come-from-behind Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference win over Saint Peter's Sunday. "I guess it was the Wheaties I ate this morning," Cotten said.
With the win Rider (28-15, 15-6 MAAC) sweeps the series three games to zero and has now won five of the seven conference series this year. "This was a big weekend for us," said Cotten. "We found a way to battle back each game."
Trailing 6-4, Rider scored four runs in the seventh inning on four hits, including an RBI double by Cotten and an RBI single by senior Karl Johnston (Hamilton, N.J./Peddie) that tied the game. Johnston had two hits on the day, his second consecutive two-hit game.
Saint Peter's (15-28, 4-13 MAAC) scored three runs in the fourth inning to take a 4-3 lead and scored two runs in the fifth inning on four hits and a Rider error to take a 6-3 lead.
Rider cut the lead to 6-4 in the fifth inning on a solo home run by Cotten, who had three home runs in the series. "That got us started," Davis said. "I don't think he's trying to hit home runs. He's just trying to get a good swing. He's starting to come around. He's a good player."
"I'm just staying through the ball, not pulling off," said Cotten, who with his three home runs this weekend now has four on the season and five for his career. "Really I'm just trying to hit the ball gap to gap. Today it just ended up over the fence. In the fifth inning it was a 3-1 count and Coach Davis said it's gotta be perfect. When the pitch came in it was perfect."
Senior A.J. Albee (Ashley, Pa./Hanover Area) also had three of Rider's 12 hits, including the 200th of his career.
Sophomore Tyler Smith (Westmont/Haddon Twp.) pitched the final inning, striking out two for his 14th save of the season.
Senior Jeff Giordano (Massapequa Park, N.Y./Massapequa) pitched two scoreless innings for the win, his second of the season. Giordano has now allowed just one run in his last 20 and one-third innings pitched.
"Our bullpen did a great job," Davis said. "Jeff did a great job."
Sophomore Adam Wayman (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./G.A.R. Memorial) hit an RBI single in the third inning to give Rider a 3-1 lead.
The Broncs were able to win despite committing three errors and allowing 15 hits. "How 'bout that?" Davis asked. "We gave up a lot of hits early (10 in the first four innings) and we kicked the ball around. It's kind of an ugly win but style points are not important at this point of the year."
Rider hosts La Salle in the final home game of the season Wednesday before traveling to first place Manhattan for the final MAAC series of the season next weekend. "We'd like to play a mid-week game," Davis said of the home season finale. "We haven't played one in a while." The last two weeks the mid-week games were rained out.
"I'm excited about playing at Manhattan," Cotten said. "We want to go up there and knock them off."
"Manhattan will certainly be a good measuring stick for us, to see where we are," Davis said. "It is always tough to play there and we're looking forward to it. Playing the first place team is great motivation for our guys. I think we're capable of beating them so let's see what we can do."