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MAAC Championship Tournament :Siena College 5, Rider University 4

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference logoMetro Atlantic Athletic Conference logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

College Baseball-Wednesday, May 20, 2015

FISHKILL, NY—One swing of the bat.

The top seeded Broncs were upset by the fourth seeded Siena Saints in the second round of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship Tournament, held at Dutchess Stadium.

The Broncs had a 4-2 lead with 10 outs to go and their All-MAAC pitcher had just retired nine straight batters. This year the Broncs are 24-1 when leading after six innings. “We’re in the game,” said Rider head coach Barry Davis, the MAAC Coach of the Year.

Siena (22-26) scored three runs with two outs in the sixth inning on an error, a walk and a three-run home run to take a 5-4 lead. “Today it came down to a couple plays,” Davis said. “We didn’t make them and they did. The error and the big home run with two out.”

Rider (28-21) scored three runs in the second inning on four hits, a leadoff single by junior Patrick Murphy(McHenry, Ill./McHenry), a double by senior Eric Strano (Robbinsville), a sacrifice fly by senior Mike Parsons(Liverpool, NY), an RBI single by senior Nick Richter (Fox River Grove, Ill./Cary-Grove) and an RBI single by junior James Locklear (Hamilton, NJ/Steinert) to take a 4-2 lead.

Rider tied the score at 1-1 in the first inning when Richter and Locklear singled and senior Justin Thomas(Richboro, PA/Council Rock South) hit a sacrifice fly.

In addition to his two hits and two runs scored Richter was stellar in the field, compiling three put outs, including an amazing grab of a high lined drive that should have been an RBI single, and four assists. “He played tremendous at third, making a play that kept us in the ball game, and had two hits,” Davis said. “He played very well.”

Siena scored a run in the first inning on two singles and a walk and took a 2-1 lead in the second inning with a two-out double and an RBI single.

Rider senior pitcher Zach Mawson (Magnolia, DE/Caesar Rodney) gave up two runs in the first two innings before retiring nine straight batters. Mawson pitched seven innings and allowed just two earned runs and struck out three while walking three.

“He wasn’t as sharp as he usually is,” Davis said.

Mawson (6-3) was 6-0 against MAAC teams during the regular season to earn All-MAAC honors.

Rider sophomore Josh Sharik (Ewing, NJ/Plumstead Christian) pitched an inning and two-thirds of shutout relief, striking out two. The appearance was the 32nd of the year for Sharik, setting a new Rider record.

Saint pitcher Bryan Goossens pitched a complete game, retiring 21 of the final 22 batters of the game. “After they took the lead we never really threatened,” Davis said. “You have to give Goossens credit.”

Rider did not face Siena during the regular season, with the series being cancelled due to weather.

Siena defeated Monmouth 12-0 in the first round, while Rider received a first round bye.

As the top seed Rider does not play again until Friday at 3:30pm. The Broncs will have to win two games on Friday and two games on Saturday to win their third MAAC title in the last eight years. One more loss and the season is over.

The good news is that in 1984, 1987 and 1992 Rider lost the first game of the East Coast Conference Championship Tournament and came back to win four straight games for the conferenced title and to advance to the NCAA Tournament. “We’re not out of the tournament,” Davis said. “We’re capable of winning games. We’re just playing four games in two days.”

The Broncs will take the late, great Ernie Banks’ motto into both Friday and Saturday. “It’s a great day for baseball, let’s play two.”