Rider 3, Niagara 2 Rider 9, Niagara 3

Courtesy: Rider Sports Information
Release: April 26, 2008
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John Ralston had 5 hits, 2 RBI doubles
Courtesy: Rider Sports Information

College Baseball

Rider University 3, Niagara University 2

Rider University 9, Niagara University 3


LAWRENCEVILLE—The Broncs swept Niagara in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference doubleheader Saturday. “I thought we pitched well today,” said Rider head coach Barry Davis.  “It was a good, solid day.”


Freshman shortstop John Ralston (Annandale, Va./Paul VI) collected five hits and freshman third baseman Mason Heyne (Shrewsbury, Pa./Susquehannock) had a pair of home runs, as the left side of the Rider infield accounted for nine hits, five RBI and six runs scored in the twinbill. “I think the freshmen are getting their second wind,” Davis said. “We’ve played almost 40 games which is almost twice what they play in high school.”


In the first game, with bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning, sophomore Matt McCollum (Tabernacle, N.J./Shawnee) grounded out to shortstop, scoring junior Maurice Williams (Ocean, N.J./Monmouth Regional) with the winning run. The middle infielders were at double-play depth but the ball was hit too slowly for a double play, but too deep to cut down the runner at home. “Matt put the ball in play and when you do that good things happen,” Davis said.


Heyne led off the ninth inning with a home run, tying the score at 2-2. “Mason came up with a big hit,” Davis said. “A huge hit. He’s a big, strong kid.”


“I was feeling good at the plate today,” Heyne said. “I thought it was going to be off the fence so I was running hard to first until I heard everyone screaming and hollering. I’m seeing the ball pretty well right now.”


Niagara took a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth inning when a ground ball hit first base with two runners on, the third hit of the inning by the Purple Eagles.


Rider tied the score at 1-1 in the seventh inning when Ralston singled, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by freshman Steve Galella (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./G.A.R. Memorial). Ralston and Galella each had two of Rider’s seven hits.


Niagara took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning on a solo home run.


McCollum made a diving catch in left-centerfield and threw out the base runner on second base to end the eighth inning. “That was one of the finest defensive plays I’ve ever seen,” Davis said.


Freshman Mike Thomas (Forest Hill, Md./Fallston) got the win, striking out the only batter he faced to end the top of the ninth inning. “Mike came in and got the out we needed,” Davis said.


Junior Mike Petrowski (Hamilton Square, N.J./Steinert) pitched eight and two-thirds innings, striking out four without allowing a walk. “I think that was the best game Mike has thrown all year,” Davis said.


In the second game, Rider (23-16, 11-6 MAAC) took a 2-0 lead in the second inning when Ralston hit an RBI double and Galella followed with an RBI single. “Ralston and Galella had some big hits for us,” Davis said. “Ralston is aggressive up there.”


Ralston is batting .318 with runners in scoring position, 48 points higher than his .270 batting average. “That’s a good sign,” Davis said. “Certainly, you want to hit in those situations. He’s very aggressive at the plate. He had a good day today. He got some pitches to hit and put some good swings on it and drove the ball. I’m real happy with the way he played today.”


“I never noticed that I hit better with runners on,” said Ralston, who was a Second Team All-State (Virginia) selection at Paul VI High School.  “I just knew I had to get the job done.”


In the third inning Rider scored four runs on four hits, including another RBI double by Ralston and an RBI triple by Williams to take a 6-0 lead. It was the second triple for Williams this week.


Junior Jimmer Kennedy (Levittown, Pa./Holy Ghost Prep) pitched a complete game, striking out five without allowing a walk.  “It was a typical game by Jimmer,” Davis said. “He gave up some hits here and there (eight) but he didn’t walk anybody.” Kennedy entered the game ranked 59th in Division I in fewest walks allowed per nine innings (1.59).


Heyne hit his second home run of the day and his fifth of the season to lead off the fifth inning, giving Rider a 9-2 lead, but no one congratulated him when he reached home plate or the dugout. “Yea, they gave me the silent treatment,” Heyne said. “I don’t think they would have done that if it was still a close game. We were playing well so everyone was goofing around a little bit.”


Rider hosts Niagara (17-20, 6-8 MAAC) in the third game of the series Sunday at 12 noon. “It is going to be a challenge tomorrow,” Davis said. “We know Niagara doesn’t quit and they’ll come ready to play tomorrow. They’re well coached.”



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