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First Place Showdown in Capital District
LOUDONVILLE, NY—The two teams tied for first place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference standings, Rider and Siena, will square off this weekend in a three game series beginning with a 12 noon doubleheader Saturday.
Rider (24-15, 9-3 MAAC) has won all four of the series it has played this season, over the teams picked to finish first (Manhattan 2-1), second (Canisius 3-0), fifth (Fairfield 2-1) and eighth (Saint Peter’s 2-1) in the preseason poll.
Siena (18-22, 9-3 MAAC) won the series with Fairfield (2-1) and swept the teams picked ninth (Iona) and seventh (Niagara), and lost the series with Marist (2-1), who was picked to finish fourth this year.
The Saints are fourth in the MAAC in both hitting (.264 team batting average) and pitching (5.19 e.r.a.).
Siena is led by the hitting of senior outfielder Mike Fish (.352), who is second in the MAAC with 51 hits and leads the conference in doubles (11) and home runs (six).
On the mound the three Saint starters, Matt Gage (3-5, 3.74 e.r.a.), Justin Brantley (3-3, 7.42 e.r.a.) and Ed Lewicki (3-1, 2.14 e.r.a.), combine for 118 strikeouts and 76 walks in 158 innings.
Smith will be seeking his 20th career win, joining just seven other Broncs on the 20-win list. What makes Smith’s win total even more impressive is the fact that the former Preseason All-American closer also has 27 career saves.
This year Smith is 5-3 with a 1.83 earned run average and has 52 strikeouts with just 11 walks.
Murphy (4-4) pitched a shutout in his last outing and owns a 3.51 earned run average.
Sowa (7-1) ranks among the top 25 pitchers in the nation in victories and has a 3.14 earned run average. Opponents are batting just .204 against Sowa.
The Bronc bullpen has been led by sophomore Zach Mawson (Magnolia, DE/Caesar Rodney), senior Chris Taylor (Sterling, VA/Dominion), sophomore David Hafer (Pine Grove, PA) and freshman Vincenzo Aiello (Staten Island, NY/Tottenville).
Mawson has nine saves, which also ranks among the top 25 in the nation. Taylor and Hafer have combined for 27 innings and have allowed just one earned run between them in their 27 appearances. Taylor and Aiello each have a pair of saves.
Mulderig is sixth in the MAAC in batting (.355) and is second in stolen bases (14 for 18). Wayman has 209 career hits, sixth most ever at Rider. Wayman and Mulderig both enter the Siena series with 43 hits this season and have combined for 15 doubles and three home runs.
Rider won two of the three games with Siena last year in Lawrenceville. The last time Rider traveled to Loudonville Rider lost two of three in 2011.
Rider and Siena have met 52 times since the series began in 1995 with each team having won 26. Rider won all three games against Siena in 2010 and all three at Siena in 2009.