Rider University 5, Niagara University 4
LAWRENCEVILLE—Senior David Hayes (Sunrise, Fla./American Heritage) had three hits, including a game-winning three-run double, to lead Rider to a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference victory over Niagara Sunday. “David was hitting the ball hard all day,” said Rider head coach Barry Davis.
By sweeping the series Rider (24-16, 12-6 MAAC) moves into second place in the MAAC behind Canisius (11-4) and ahead of Manhattan (10-5). “Overall, it is nice now that we’re in position that if we can finish good, who knows what can happen,” Davis said.
Trailing 3-0, Rider scored five runs in the seventh inning on three hits, two walks and a hit batsman.
Sophomore Eric Woodrow (Hamilton, N.J./Hamilton West) hit an RBI single to get Rider on the board. “I thought that was the big hit of the day,” Davis said. “Hitting the ball up the middle with two strikes set the stage. That was the key to that entire inning. It put us in position to have the big inning.”
Sophomore Matt McCollum (Tabernacle, N.J./Shawnee) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and D. Hayes followed with his third hit of the day, a double to left centerfield that cleared the bases. “Yesterday he (Niagara reliever Dennis Chachko) came in and threw a bunch of good sliders, so I was looking slider and got one,” D. Hayes said.
A Florida native, D. Hayes seems to warm up with the weather. In the last 11 games, D. Hayes is batting .410 with 16 hits, including four doubles and a home run, along with 13 RBI. “It does seem that way,” D. Hayes said. “I find it much easier to play when it is warm. My old body gets loose easier. I’ve been seeing the ball well lately and today I got some good pitches to hit.”
“David wasn’t hitting very well early in the season, and we were moving guys around, but now I think we’ve hit on something with him in the two-hole,” Davis said. “I think now when he comes to the park he’s confident he’s probably going to be in the line up and he’s been able to produce. He’s been a big plus for us the last dozen games or so.”
With D. Hayes batting second, Rider has won 11 of its last 14 games.
Not a typical two-hole hitter, D. Hayes seems to have found a home batting in the second spot of the order. “I like batting second,” D. Hayes said. “You get more at bats. I don’t strike out too often and I put the ball in play, so Coach tried me there and it has been working out.”
Junior James Hayes (Sunrise, Fla./Piper) pitched an inning and two-thirds without allowing a hit for his seventh save of the season and the 22nd of his career.
The only draw back with D. Hayes being the designated hitter is that when his brother Jamie comes in from right field to pitch, the DH has to come out of the game. “Well, if we bring Jamie in to close, that means we’re probably winning, so I’ll take that,” D. Hayes said. “Jamie has had pretty good success.”
Freshman Mike Thomas (Forest Hill, Md./Fallston) recorded his second win in relief in two days to improve to 5-3 on the season, pitching two and one-third innings. “Normally we’d bring our eighth inning guy in but Thomas was cruising,” Davis said.
Junior Sean Olson (Vineland, N.J./St. Augustine Prep) had two of Rider’s seven hits. Rider freshman Steve Galella (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./G.A.R. Memorial) was one for one with a pair of walks.
Making his third collegiate start and first against a conference team, Rider freshman Patrick Devlin (Richboro, Pa./Council Rock North) pitched five innings and allowed five hits, striking out three. “I thought Devlin threw fine,” Davis said. “He had just one inning where he couldn’t find the plate.”
Niagara (17-21, 6-9 MAAC) scored three runs in the fourth inning on three hits, a walk and a hit batsman, all three runs scoring on a double by Jason Cramer. Cramer had a fourth RBI in the eighth inning.
The Broncs host Princeton Wednesday.