Niagara University 8, Rider University 5
Rider University 10, Niagara University 9
LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ—The Broncs split a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference doubleheader with Niagara Saturday. “We were fortunate to come back and get a win and get a split today,” said Rider head coach Barry Davis.
In the second game the Broncs (11-22, 4-6 MAAC) trailed 7-0 and rallied to win on a walk-off RBI double by junior Greg Fazio (Far Hills/Ridge). “You never think you are out of it, but it didn’t look good,” Davis said. “Fortunately it was only the fourth inning.”
It was Fazio’s fifth hit of the day and fourth RBI of the doubleheader. “I was sitting on a slider because he was throwing sliders almost every pitch,” said Fazio, who now has 133 career hits. “I got it.”
“He swung the bat pretty good all weekend,” Davis said of his veteran second baseman.
With the score tied at 9-9 and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning sophomore James Locklear (Hamilton, NJ/Steinert) singled, his fourth hit of the game and fifth hit of the day. “Looks like Locklear is swinging the bat better,” Davis said.
Locklear scored from first with the winning run on the double to left field by Fazio. “There were two outs so Locklear is running all the way, and he runs well,” Davis said. “It was a good win.”
“We needed that win,” Fazio said. “Before that we were 3-6 in the MAAC and barely hanging on. If we keep playing well we’re right in this.”
Trailing 9-5, Rider scored four runs in the sixth inning on just one hit and three Niagara errors to tie the score at 9-9.
Niagara (12-22, 5-8 MAAC) took a 2-0 lead in the second inning and led 7-0 in the fourth.
Rider came back with five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning on four hits, including the 200th career hit by senior Nick Crescenzo (Hammonton, NJ/Hammonton). Crescenzo had three hits in the doubleheader and became just the twelfth Rider player to compile 200 hits.
Rider freshman Josh Sharik (Ewing, NJ/Plumstead Christian) pitched four and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief for the win, his first. Sharik struck out four and walked two, allowing three hits. “You have to give a lot of credit to Josh,” Fazio said. “He was phenomenal. I love playing behind him because he works quickly and almost always throws strikes.”
“Josh was the pitcher of the weekend for us,” Davis said. “He’s been pretty good and he did a great job today.”
In the first game Niagara scored four runs in the first inning on three hits, two wild pitches, a walk, a passed ball, a catcher’s interference and two Rider errors. “We fell behind 4-0 again,” Davis said.
Rider cut the lead to 4-3 with two runs in the second inning on back-to-back RBI doubles by Fazio and sophomore Connor Luff (Milford, DE/Milford).
The Purple Eagles broke the game open with three runs in the fifth inning on four hits and a sacrifice fly.
Each team had 10 hits in the first game.
Niagara won the series two game to one, the first time since 2010 that Niagara won the series with Rider. “It was a gritty performance by Niagara,” Davis said. “It was a long trip for them to come down here and they took it to us.”
Rider plays at Rutgers in a make-up game on Tuesday and hosts Princeton Wednesday. “Two local games after two days off,” Davis said.