Rider University 6, Iona College 5
NEW ROCHELLE, NY—In a game that featured 26 strikeouts between the two teams, Rider scored four runs in the ninth inning on three hits, an error and a key passed ball to defeat Iona in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game Saturday. “We got lucky today,” said Rider head coach Barry Davis. “Iona was one strike away from winning this game.”
The second and third games of the series will be played Sunday. “This was a big win for us,” Davis said. “A good come-back win, but we don’t like doing it that way.”
The Broncs (15-13, 5-5 MAAC) took a 6-5 lead in the top of the ninth inning when pinch-runner senior Jon Leise (Woodbury, N.J./West Deptford) scored on a passed ball to tie the game and junior James Hayes (Sunrise, Fla./Piper) went to third and then scored on a wild throw attempting to get Leise out at the plate.
The ninth inning scoring began when sophomore Nick Wojnowski (Baldwin, Md./Calvert Hall) hit an RBI single to cut the lead to 5-3 and Hayes followed with an RBI single to cut the lead to 5-4. Leise pinch ran for Wojnowski. “This was a credit to the guys coming in off the bench,” Davis said. “Leise made an aggressive play and it turned out to be a very big play for us. Wojnowski had a big two-strike hit.” Wojnowski entered then game as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning.
With one out and a runner on second base in the bottom of the ninth inning, Hayes came in from right field to the mound to record the final two outs for his sixth save of the season and the 21st of his career. “After they got a looping double in the ninth I figured, ‘let’s go with Jamie’ and he was pretty good once again, getting a strikeout and a ground out to end it,” Davis said.
Freshman Mike Thomas (Forest Hill, Md./Fallston) earned the win in relief, his second, pitching two shutout innings and allowing one hit while striking out two. “Mike came in a got us out of the seventh inning and pitched a solid eighth inning,” Davis said. “He threw fine.”
The Broncs got on the board in the seventh inning when freshman Steve Galella (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./G.A.R. Memorial) hit an RBI single, his second hit of the day, cutting the lead to 3-1. Galella had three of Rider’s eight hits on the day. “Galella had good at bats again today,” Davis said. “He battled.”
Iona (1-26, 1-9 MAAC) scored two runs on two hits and a walk, all with two outs in the seventh inning to take a 5-1 lead.
The Broncs cut the lead to 5-2 in the eighth inning when freshman Mason Heyne (Shrewsbury, Pa./Susquehannock) drew a bases loaded walk.
Iona took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a single, a walk, a hit batsman, a fielder’s choice RBI, an error and a sacrifice fly, and went up 3-0 in the third inning on a walk and a two-out RBI double. “We went out and gave them two runs right away,” Davis said.
Rider junior Mike Petrowski (Hamilton Square, N.J./Steinert) pitched six and two-thirds innings and allowed four earned runs on six hits, while striking nine, the third time this season he has struck out nine batters in a game. “In the middle of the game Mike was very good,” Davis said. “He struggled out of the gate but he had good stuff.”
Iona pitcher Shane Sveda struck out the side in the sixth inning against Rider’s top three batters in the line up and finished with 11 strikeouts and just two walks in seven and one-third innings pitched. “Sveda was really good,” Davis said. “He has kept them in every game he has pitched. He has three good pitches.”
Iona has now lost its last 13 games.
Last year Rider defeated Iona 10-3 but lost 3-1 and 8-6 in 10 innings. Rider and Iona have met 35 times since the series began in 1960 with Rider winning 22.
“Fortunate enough we were able to find a way to win today,’” Davis said.