Rider University 11, Iona College 6
Rider University 3, Iona College 2 (8 innings)
LAWRENCEVILLE— For most people the second Sunday in May usually brings to mind Mother’s Day. For Rider baseball, however, it usually means Senior Day and that the playoffs are right around the corner.
The Broncs swept Iona in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference doubleheader Sunday, making all mothers in attendance happy, as well as all the seniors. Prior to the doubleheader Rider’s eight graduating seniors were honored, and six of them contributed to the sweep. “That worked out good for us,” said Rider head coach Barry Davis.
The seventh and eighth seniors are scheduled to pitch in relief Monday.
With the sweep, Rider (32-17, 16-4 MAAC) wins its seventh conference series of the season with one series remaining. “We played solid all day,” Davis said. “We pitched fairly well and we swung the bats.”
Rider senior Ian Lindsay (Oaklyn/Haddon Twp.) had six hits on the day. “It was good to see all of the seniors contribute to winning both games,” said Lindsay, who had three RBI in the first game and in the second game he scored two runs, including the game-winner. “It was a good day to win two.”
In the first game senior pitcher Tyler Smith (Westmont/Haddon Twp.) struck out seven Gaels in seven innings of work. With the win, Smith (6-4) becomes just the eighth Bronc to compile 20 career wins (20-16) to go along with his 27 career saves as a former All-East closer.
Iona (7-40, 2-18 MAAC) scored a run in the first inning on a single and a triple before Smith retired the next eight batters in a row and 13 of the next 14, while Rider built a 7-1 lead.
Junior Nick Crescenzo (Hammonton, NJ/Hammonton) homered off of losing pitcher Mariano Rivera, the son of the Yankee great.
In the second game, junior Jerry Mulderig (Langhorne, PA/Council Rock South) hit a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning of the scheduled seven-inning game. “It was a 2-1 count and I got the pitch I wanted,” said Mulderig. “This is exciting, wining another series. If we can do well next week and go the entire year without losing a (MAAC) series, that would be huge.”
It was Mulderig’s third hit of the day, giving him 102 hits for his career. Mulderig singled in his first at bat of the day for career hit number 100.
There have been 11 Rider baseball players who have collected 200 career hits, but Mulderig is the first Bronc to collect his 100th hit twice. “It was nice to finally get it out of the way, after what happened last week,” Mulderig said.
In the series at Niagara last weekend Mulderig had five hits in the Saturday doubleheader, giving him 99 for his career, and the first time up on Sunday he collected his 100th, so everyone thought. It turned out that the Niagara scorekeeper went back and changed one of Mulderig’s hits on Saturday to an error, putting Mulderig back at 99.
Rider cut the lead to 2-1 in the fourth inning when Lindsay led off with a single, went to third on a error and scored on a sacrifice fly by senior Adam Wayman (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./G.A.R. Memorial). Wayman had three hits on the day and now has 223 in his career, fifth most ever at Rider.
For Lindsay it was his third three-hit game in his last four games. The 2012 All-MAAC designated hitter is still 100 points below what he was hitting last year, however. “It’s been a struggle all year,” Lindsay said, “but I don’t need to get another hit all year and I’ll be happy if we can win the MAAC Championship.”
“If you notice Ian has been hitting a lot of balls on the ground,” Davis said, “and his running speed is deceiving. He does a lot of things for us for someone who is having an off year at the plate. He’s doing the job.”
The Broncs tied the score at 2-2 in the seventh inning with two outs on an RBI single by sophomore Eric Strano (Robbinsville). “I was just fortunate to have the ball squeak through,” Strano said. The Rider catcher, Strano scored three runs in the first game and did not start the second game. “That’s usually the plan, if I don’t start to be ready to pinch hit,” Strano said. “We’ve been trying to rest him when we can,” Davis said of Strano, who has started 38 games behind the plate this year.
Senior Sean Kuberiet (Branchburg/Somerville) pitched the eighth inning for the win, improving to 3-1 on the season.
Rider has won 14 of the last 17 meetings with Iona. Rider and Iona have met 52 times since the series began in 1960 with Rider winning 35.
The third game of the series will be played Monday at 3:30pm. A victory on Monday and Rider needs to win just one of the three games at second place Marist May 18-19 to clinch first place.
Rider’s best finishes in MAAC play were in 2010 (16-7) and in 2001 (18-9).
Improving on that would make all the seniors and Mothers happy, as Rider readies for the playoffs.