Rider University 3, Fairfield University 2
Fairfield University 5, Rider University 2
LAWRENCEVILLE-Sophomore Eric Strano (Robbinsville) collected five hits as the Broncs split a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference doubleheader with Fairfield Saturday to win the series two games to one.
"Winning the series is the important thing and that's what we did," said Rider head coach Barry Davis.
In the first game, the Broncs scored three runs in the third inning on three hits, two hit batsman, an error and a sacrifice fly by sophomore Justin Thomas (Richboro, PA/Council Rock South).
Rider senior Ian Lindsay (Oaklyn/Haddon Twp.) singled, stole second and third and scored on the catcher's throwing error to give the Broncs a 1-0 lead.
Junior Jerry Mulderig (Langhorne, PA/Council Rock South) had three of Rider's eight hits in the first game, while Lindsay and Strano each had two.
"I'm seeing the ball pretty well right now," said Strano, who also threw another runner out attempting to steal, his 11th caught stealing of the season. "That's just a great feeling, throwing a runner out," Strano said.
"Strano's been very solid and is doing a great job for us," Davis said. "We feel confident with him hitting in the two-hole.
"I love batting second," Strano said. "I see a lot more pitches, get more at bats, and I usually get hotter later in the season, so the more at bats I get I think the better off I'll be."
Sophomore Kurt Sowa (Bensalem, PA/Fr. Judge) pitched five and one-third innings, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out four and walking two for the win. "Kurt was good," Davis said of his star sophomore, who is now 5-1 on the season.
Sowa pitched a two-hit, shutout in his last outing last Saturday.
Sophomore Zach Mawson (Magnolia, DE/Caesar Rodney) pitched the seventh inning for his fifth save of the season. "Mawson came in and closed the door, like he's done several times already," Davis said.
Fairfield scored a run in the fourth inning on a walk and an RBI double and cut the lead to 3-2 in the sixth inning on a single and an RBI double.
"Winning the first game was big because we knew we won the series," Davis said.
In the second game Fairfield (8-14, 2-4 MAAC) scored five runs in the sixth inning on three hits and two Rider errors to take a 5-1 lead. "We kind of collapsed defensively there in that one inning," Davis said, "and that contributed to the loss."
Rider (13-10, 2-1 MAAC) scored an unearned run in the eighth inning for the final score.
Rider junior Mike Murphy (Hamilton/Peddie) started and kept the Stags off the board for five innings. "I thought Mike was throwing fine," Davis said, "it just got away from us."
The MAAC Pitcher of the Year in 2012, Murphy (2-4, 12-14 in his career) had given up just two earned runs in his last 27 innings before giving up four runs in the sixth inning Saturday. "He's one of our best pitchers," Davis said. "If we make a play or two behind him we don't have to take him out. He's given us a chance to win each time out, we just haven't scored any runs for him."
The Broncs took a 1-0 lead in the second inning of the second game when Mulderig walked, stole second and scored on an infield single by Thomas. Mulderig leads the MAAC in stolen bases (12 of 14).
Rider has won 39 of the 62 games the Broncs have played against Fairfield since the series began in 1956, including five of the last seven.
Fairfield won the series two-games-to-one three straight years (2009, '10, and '11) before last season.
The Broncs travel to Seton Hall Tuesday and the University of Maryland Wednesday. "This week is a little tougher road," Davis said, "but we've played (and beat) Rutgers, we've played South Carolina, Campbell and Radford. We've played some tough teams so we're not going to be intimated by them. It will be a tough week on the road for us, however."