Rider Wins 2, Niagara Falls
Rider University 3, Niagara University 2 (13 innings)
Rider University 9, Niagara University 4
LAWRENCEVILLE-It took 22 innings, but the Broncs swept a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference doubleheader with Niagara Saturday afternoon. "Anytime you win it's good," said Rider head coach Barry Davis. "At the end of the day we had two wins and that's what we came out here to do."
In the first game, a scheduled seven inning contest, junior Adam Wayman (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./G.A.R. Memorial) led off the 13th inning with a double, his third hit of the game and scored the game winner on a throwing error. "That was a big hit by Wayman," Davis said, "and we caught a break and scored, but we put ourselves in position to get the break."
"I was just trying to get in scoring position," Wayman said. "I felt I had to get on base. Once I hit the double everybody else did their job and I was able to score."
The Broncs led 2-0 on RBI singles by freshman Mike Parsons (Liverpool, NY) in the first inning and senior Brandon Cotten (Wiconisco, Pa./Williams Valley) in the fifth inning, but Niagara tied the score at 2-2 in the seventh inning on a third strike wild pitch and three singles. "We grinded out the first game today," Davis said.
Junior Tyler Smith (Westmont/Haddon Twp.), a Preseason All-American who earned All-East honors last year as a closer, pitched seven innings of relief for the victory. "Smitty was outstanding," Davis said. "He didn't want to come out, so that's a tribute to him."
Smith has compiled 27 saves in his career, three this year, but suffered a blown save on Saturday. "You try to forget things like that," Smith said, "but it is always in the back of your mind. So that gave me some fuel to go out there today."
Freshman Kurt Sowa (Bensalem, PA/Fr. Judge) started the game and pitched four and two-thirds scoreless innings, enough for a win in a scheduled seven inning contest, and left with a 1-0 lead. "Every time out he's given us a chance to win the game," Davis said of his rookie starter.
In the second game, Parsons hit a two-out RBI single in the sixth inning to break a 4-4 tie. "I thought we deserved the win in the first game," Davis said, "and the second game was up for grabs. Mike battles and gets good at bats. He did a good job."
Rider (7-14, 2-1 MAAC) tied the score at 1-1 in the second inning when Wayman singled and scored on a double by freshman Greg Fazio (Far Hills/Ridge). Fazio had four hits in the twin bill.
Niagara (8-13, 1-2 MAAC) took a 4-1 lead in the fifth inning but the Broncs came right back to tie it at 4-4 with three runs in the fifth inning on three hits and a pair of Purple Eagle errors. The big hit of the inning was a two-run single by junior Ian Lindsay (Oaklyn/Haddon Twp.).
The Broncs broke the game open with four runs in the seventh inning on five hits, including three doubles. The most unique double you will ever see, however, was Fazio's. With runners on first and second, Fazio was given the bunt sign. With the third baseman charging, Fazio faked the bunt and slapped the ball over the rushing infielder for an RBI double. "Fazio's slash was the big play," Davis said.
Rider sophomore Nick Crescenzo (Hammonton, NJ/Hammonton) was five for five in the second game and had seven hits on the day. "When he puts the ball on the ground he gives us a great chance," Davis said.
"I can't remember the last time I had seven hits in a day," said Crescenzo, who had nine hits in the three-game series with Niagara last year. "I'm just glad we got two wins today. A day like this builds our confidence. With a young team we need this."
Crescenzo moved from right field to left during all three games of the Niagara series when defensive substitutions were made. "Right field is a little harder from me only because I played left all last year," Crescenzo said.
"He covers a lot of ground," Davis said of his speedy outfielder.
Wayman had five hits in the doubleheader. "Big day for Adam," Davis said. "I thought the second game he really swung the bat well."
Junior Sean Kuberiet (Branchburg/Somerville) pitched in relief in both games, a total of three scoreless innings, striking out four while allowing just one hit and no walks. "He's done a good job all year," Davis said. "He comes in and throws strikes and we feel good about bringing him in. He's confident and we're confident in bringing him in."
Rider and Niagara have now met 43 times since the series began in 1997 with Rider winning 30, including five of the last six.
The Broncs host Seton Hall Tuesday and George Mason Wednesday, both games beginning at 3:30pm on the Sonny Pittaro Field.