Rider's Final MAAC Weekend
Broncs Face Iona, Seek Playoff Spot
The Rider baseball team (11-10 MAAC) is currently in fourth place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with three conference games remaining, against Iona this weekend.
The first game of the three-game series is Saturday evening at 5pm at Fordham University in the Bronx. The second and third games are Sunday, beginning with the seven-inning game at 12 noon, on Iona's field in New Rochelle.
Manhattan (12-6) is currently in first place in the MAAC with six games remaining, against sixth place Saint Peter's (9-9) and seventh place Siena (8-10).
Canisius (11-7) is currently in second place with six games left, against third place Marist (9-8) and ninth place Niagara (7-13).
Fairfield (9-9) is currently in fifth place and has six games left, with Siena and Marist.
The top four teams qualify for the MAAC Championship Tournament, May 24-27 at Joe Bruno Stadium in Troy, NY, hosted by Siena.
With so many teams still in the running, there is one scenario where Rider wins one of three games with Iona and gets in the playoffs. There is also one scenario where Rider wins all three games at Iona and still does not make the playoffs.
The most probable scenario has Rider qualifying for the playoffs with two wins at Iona.
On the final weekend of the MAAC schedule, May 18-19, the Broncs have a bye and host Longwood for a four-game series. There will be some scoreboard watching going on by Bronc fans, if not the Broncs themselves.
Cotten (Wiconisco, Pa./Williams Valley), who missed seven games with a foot injury and had not played since April 20, had six hits in the Siena series last weekend with three RBI and a stolen base along with another outstanding diving catch in centerfield.
Cotten enters the Iona series with 198 career hits, 10th most ever at Rider, and 136 runs scored, also 10th most ever at Rider.
Lindsay (Oaklyn/Haddon Twp.) leads Rider with a .331 batting average. The junior missed a week due to a concussion but returned last weekend and collected four hits in six at bats against Siena.
Thomas was named the MAAC Rookie of the Week and Strano was named the CollegeSportsMadness MAAC Player of the Week.
Thomas batted .750 last weekend with six hits, including two doubles, had an RBI and scored three runs. His slugging percentage was 1.000 and his on base percentage was .800.
Thomas has raised his batting average from .256 to .314 in the last six games.
Strano hit a two-run single in Rider's 2-1 come-from-behind win in the second game of the doubleheader sweep of Siena. Strano is batting .471 over his last six games with eight hits.
Sophomore Mike Murphy (Hamilton/Peddie) will pitch the Saturday evening game against Iona. Murphy is 4-0 in his last five starts and leads the MAAC in earned run average (2.51) and innings pitched (79). His 50 strikeouts is third in the conference.
Junior Tyler Smith (Westmont/Haddon Twp.) will pitch the first game of the doubleheader on Sunday, the seven inning contest. Smith is fifth in the MAAC in strikeouts with 49.
Smith is now 3-2 as a starter with four complete games after being a Preseason All-American as a closer. An All-East closer in 2011, Smith owns a career record of 13-10 with 27 saves and an earned run average of 3.17.
Freshman Kurt Sowa (Bensalem, PA/Fr. Judge) is scheduled to pitch the final game of the series Sunday afternoon. Sowa is 3-4 and will be making his 12th start Sunday.
If Rider does make the MAAC playoffs it will be for the fifth consecutive season and the 10th time in 15 years in the league. Rider won the MAAC Tournament and received the NCAA automatic bid that goes along with it in 2008 and again in 2010.
The Broncs will play their final MAAC games this weekend, but will not know their playoff fate until the following weekend.
Good things come to those who wait.