Rider University 9, Iona College 6
LAWRENCEVILLE-Senior Steve Galella (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./G.A.R. Memorial) scored from second base on a wild pitch in the seventh inning to break a 6-6 tie in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference victory over Iona Sunday afternoon.
"A lot of guys in that situation are satisfied with getting to third," said Rider head coach Barry Davis. "I felt it was one of the most head's up plays we've had on the bases. It shows he is aware of the situation, he recognized it."
"We're coached to find the pitcher in that situation and see what he is doing," said Galella, who has now scored 106 runs in his career, 29th most ever at Rider. "When I rounded third I saw that he had no idea where the ball was so I took a chance. It worked out for the best. It was a risky play but it worked."
In the seventh inning with two outs Galella singled and sophomore Adam Wayman (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./G.A.R. Memorial) walked. On a wild pitch Galella raced to third and when he saw the pitcher was not covering the plate never broke stride and scored. The catcher's late throw to the pitcher was wild and that allowed Wayman to score, giving Rider an 8-6 lead.
"Because Galella took a chance, it allowed us to get another run," Davis added.
The victory allowed Rider (15-10, 5-1 MAAC) to win the series two games to one. "That's the goal, to win the series," Davis said. "Because we split yesterday we felt a little more pressure to win today. Being able to bounce back was big. Early on it didn't look like we were doing a very good job of bouncing back."
"If you win every series you are going to be in the playoffs," Galella said, "and that's our goal. After splitting yesterday we came out today with the attitude that this was a must-win situation."
Trailing 6-3, the Broncs scored three runs in the sixth inning on two hits and two Iona (8-16, 1-5 MAAC) errors to tie the score at 6-6. With two men on in the sixth sophomore catcher Mike O'Reilly (Colts Neck) hit an RBI single that the Iona right fielder misplayed, allowing a second run to score and O'Reilly scored on an RBI single by junior Brandon Cotten (Wiconisco, Pa./Williams Valley) to tie the score. "O'Reilly had a big hit," Davis said.
Senior Karl Johnston (Hamilton, N.J./Peddie) then walked, went to second on a passed ball, stole third and scored on a bad throw from the catcher for the final score.
Sophomore Chris Taylor (Sterling, VA/Dominion) pitched three innings of shutout relief for the victory, his third of the season.
Sophomore Tyler Smith (Westmont/Haddon Twp.) pitched the final two scoreless, hitless innings for his fifth save of the season and the 14th of his career.
"Taylor and Smith both did a good job," Davis said. "This is a bullpen league. The guys who come into the game in close ball games are going to determine who wins."
Sophomore Joe Calogero (Cherry Hill, N.J./Cherry Hill HS West) started and went four innings, allowing three earned runs. It marked the third time in his career that Calogero has started a MAAC game that Rider won. "Joe threw fine, we just didn't catch the ball," Davis said of Rider's three errors. "We had two double play balls that we didn't turn. He's not a strikeout pitcher. You have to make plays behind him and we didn't."
As a freshman he started but did not get the decision in a pair of Rider victories over Manhattan and Saint Peter's.
Cotten had two hits, including a double in the first inning and extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
Galella and senior John Ralston (Annandale, Va./Paul VI) each had two of Rider's eight hits. The two have now combined for 358 career hits.
Rider and Iona have now met 46 times since the series began in 1960 with Rider winning 31. The Broncs won all three games at Iona last year, took two out of three when Iona visited Lawrenceville in 2009 and Rider won all three at Iona in 2008. The Gaels won two of three in 2007.
The Broncs play at NJIT Wednesday.