Rider University 4, Sacred Heart University 2
Sacred Heart University 7, Rider University 4
LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ—The Broncs split a doubleheader with perennial Northeast Conference power Sacred Heart on Sunday to win the series two games to one. “Sacred Heart is a good team with solid pitching,” said Rider head coach Barry Davis, “so we’ll take winning the series against them.”
Sacred Heart won the NEC last year for the third time in the last five years. The Pioneers have been in the NEC Title Game the last seven years and are currently 6-1 in the NEC.
In the first game on Sunday Rider junior Vincenzo Aiello (Staten Island, NY/Tottenville) pitched a complete game, allowing just one earned run and one walk while striking out seven. “Vinnie was outstanding,” Davis said. “His pitch count was low enough to go back out there for the ninth inning. Today he was as good as he’s been. That is what we expect out of him. He carried us.”
“I was really able to locate my fastball today,” said Aiello, who began last season with a 1.64 earned run average after four appearances before missing the rest of the season with an elbow injury. “I am not a strikeout pitcher anymore so I relied on my defense today.”
It was the second complete game of the season for Aiello and the first nine inning complete game for the Rider staff this year. “I think that is the first time I threw nine innings at Rider,” Aiello said, “so I’m glad to know I can if I need to.”
Rider freshman Riley Mihalik (Churchville, PA/Chestnut Hill) hit a three-run double in the seventh inning to give Rider a 3-1 lead. “That was a big hit by Riley,” Davis said, “bases loaded, two outs, opposite field in the gap. We had him in the lineup for offense and he gave us what we needed.”
Rider junior Mike Volaski (Oxnard, CA/Oxnard) hit an RBI double to give Rider a 4-1 lead in the eighth inning. “He keeps swinging the bat,” Davis said of his first-year third baseman. “He’s coming around.”
Volaski has raised his batting average 100 points in the last two weeks with 15 hits in his last nine games.
Sacred Heart (13-13) took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning on two hits and a sacrifice fly and cut the lead to 4-2 in the ninth with an unearned run.
In the second game Volaski hit an RBI single to give Rider (10-19) a 1-0 lead in the second inning, extending his hitting streak to nine games.
Sacred Heart tied the score in the third inning and scored two in the fifth and two in the sixth to take a 5-1 lead.
Rider senior James Locklear (Hamilton, NJ/Steinert) hit a two-run single to cut the lead to 5-3 in the sixth inning but that was as close as the Broncs could get.
Junior Tyler Kaiser (Moorestown, NJ/Moorestown) hit a solo home run in the eighth inning for the final score. “Kaiser is swinging the bat lately,” Davis said.
Kaiser, Locklear and Volaski each had two of Rider’s eight hits in the second game, with Kaiser scoring three runs.
Rider plays at Lehigh Tuesday.