Niagara University 1, Rider University 0
Niagara University 5, Rider University 4
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.--Rider falls at Niagara.
The Rider University softball team was swept at Niagara on Saturday, losing a pair of one-run Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference games that each went 12 innings.
"We did a great job of playing hard," said head coach Tricia Carroll. "We had a lot of fight but just left too many runners on base and couldn't get that one hit when we needed it."
Despite out-hitting the Purple Eagles nine to five in the opener, Rider lost 1-0 when Niagara hit a double to lead off the 12th inning and the Purple Eagles followed with a single to left center field to end the game.
Senior Rachael Matreale (Williamstown) didn't give up a hit until two outs in the fifth inning and took a three-hit shutout into the 12th inning.
Matreale tied a career-high with 13 strikeouts in the game.
"Rachael was good again," Carroll said. "We gave her no run support. We have to score to win and we didn't."
Junior Alyssa Paul (Toms River/Toms River HS East) had two of Rider's nine hits including a double in the opener with senior Lucy Higgins (Westminster, Mass./Notre Dame Academy) also doubling for the Broncs.
Rider's best chance to score came with one out in the fifth inning when Higgins doubled and she was thrown out at the plate on a single by sophomore Ally Coryell (Ewing).
The Broncs also put two runners on base in the seventh inning with two outs but could not score.
With one out in the ninth inning, Rider had runners on second and third but were kept off the board on a strikeout and popup and the Broncs had runners on first and third with two outs in the 12th but were denied.
Rider left 13 runners on base in the first game.
Sophomore Kim Bryson threw all 12 innings for Niagara (14-29, 7-9 MAAC), recording six strikeouts.
Despite four hits including a double from freshman Amanda Irving (Westminster, Md./Westminster), Rider blew a 4-0 lead and lost 5-4 in the nightcap that also went 12 innings.
Rider broke a scoreless tie with four runs in the third inning, including RBI singles from Paul and junior Heather Muscara (North Bellmore, N.Y./Mepham).
After a Bronc error with one out in the fifth inning, Niagara cut the Rider lead to 4-1 on an RBI double and the Purple Eagles converted two Rider errors into three more unearned runs in the sixth inning to tie the game at 4-4.
"We gave up four unearned runs to let Niagara tie the game," Carroll said. "And then we had several chances to score in extra innings and didn't get the job done. We battled and fought and it's a bummer that we didn't win either game."
Niagara broke the 4-4 tie with a leadoff single in the 12th inning, followed by a passed ball that advanced the runner to second base and an RBI single up the middle for the final score on yet another unearned run.
Senior Kelsey Krisch (Parker, Colo./Council Rock HS North) started and went six innings, allowing four runs (none earned) and she recorded six strikeouts.
Matreale threw the next two innings, allowing only one hit while striking out two. Matreale is second all-time on Rider's career strikeout list with 591.
Sophomore Krysti Maronski (Woodbury Heights/Gloucester County Inst. of Technology) absorbed the loss, throwing the final three and one third innings, recording four strikeouts.
Senior Bri Allen threw nine innings of scoreless relief for Niagara, scattering nine hits.
Rider out-hit Niagara 13-9 but left 13 runners on base for the second game in a row.
Last season, Niagara won 12-0 and 12-4 in Lawrenceville. Niagara blanked Rider twice in 2010 (8-0, 12-0) at Niagara and the Purple Eagles have won 19 of the 34 games in the series, including the last six in a row. The teams split in Lawrenceville in 2009 with Niagara winning 5-1 in the opener and Rider 3-1 in the nightcap.
Rider is now 4-8 in games decided by one run this season and the Broncs fell to 4-5 in extra inning games.
Rider stays in Western New York to face Canisius (9-5 MAAC) on Sunday in a MAAC doubleheader, the final two games of the regular season.
Two wins by Rider would tie the Broncs with the Golden Griffins with Rider holding the tie-breaker.
Fairfield is also 9-5 in the MAAC with Marist and Siena each at 8-6 in the conference. The Stags swept Rider earlier this season with the Broncs and Red Foxes splitting two games in Lawrenceville.
Siena is at Fairfield and Marist is at Iona on Sunday. Rider split with first place Iona and swept the Saints at Herb and Joan Young Field on senior day.
The top four teams in the MAAC standings at the end of play on Sunday advance to the conference playoffs May 10-12, hosted by Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York with the winner earning a trip to the NCAA Championship tournament.
Rider last made the MAAC playoffs in 2006.
"We need to sweep on Sunday and get some help," Carroll said. "It is going to be a tough task but I think we are up to the challenge."