LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ—The Broncs began defense of their 2015 Classic Title on Tuesday with a victory over La Salle in the first round of the 25th annual Liberty Bell Classic.
For Rider (4-17) freshman Brett Kosciolek (Nesquehoning, PA/Tamaqua) pitched seven innings, allowing just one unearned run while striking out nine and allowing just one walk. “Brett threw really well again today,” said Rider head coachBarry Davis.
“I was just locating my fastball really well,” said Kosciolek, who allowed just one earned run in his last outing, a seven inning no decision in a 3-2 win over Rutgers. “That was my main focus today.”
The 6’7” rookie righty improved to 2-1 on the season. “We feel we have four solid starters now,” Davis said.
At Tamaqua Area High School Kosciolek struck out over 200 batters in his career, but that was against high school batters, not college. “I try not to think about who I’m facing,” Kosciolek said. “I just try to go out and throw the same way I did in high school. I try not to be intimidated by anyone.”
Kosciolek now leads the Rider pitching staff in wins (two) and earned run average (2.13). “I try to be confident. I’m throwing my slider better now, which has helped me improve.”
Rider scored four runs in the second inning on five hits, including a two-run single by sophomore Dallas Clark (Moorestown, NJ/Moorestown) and an RBI single from senior Patrick Murphy (McHenry, Ill./McHenry).
“We’ve shown the ability to score three or four runs in an inning,” Davis said. “The problem has been that was the only inning we would score in. Today we were able to add another one.”
The Broncs added an insurance run in the eighth inning when senior James Locklear (Hamilton, NJ/Steinert) hit a two-out single, stole second and scored on a single by junior Mike Volaski (Oxnard, CA/Oxnard). “That last run is more like the way we should play,” Davis said. “We looked like a baseball team in that inning. That was good baseball.”
Locklear and Volaski each had two of Rider’s nine hits. “We had some good at bats today,” Davis said, “to go along with good pitching and good defense.”
La Salle (7-18) scored an unearned run in the third inning with a two-out walk, a single and an error.
The last time La Salle defeated Rider was in 2013. Rider and La Salle were East Coast Conference rivals in the 1970s and early 1980s. The two teams have now met 56 times since the series began in 1968 with Rider winning 36.
Last year Rider won Liberty Bell Classic games at Lehigh and at La Salle before defeating Villanova in the Title Game at Citizen’s Bank Park.
The second game of the Liberty Bell Classic is April 5 against either Lehigh or Delaware. That game will also be played at Rider.
Rider plays at Delaware State Wednesday.