FULLERTON, CA—The Rider baseball season came to an end in the second round of the NCAA Regional Championship tournament, losing to Virginia Saturday night. “There are no moral victories but I felt better about how we played today,” said Rider head coach Barry Davis. “We bounced back after a tough game Friday night against a quality club. The 2009 season starts tomorrow for us.”
The Broncs bounced back from an 11-0 loss to the fifth best team in the nation, Regional host Cal State Fullerton, Friday night. “Overall I thought today was a lot better day,” Davis said. “For our program to come out and compete against a quality team said a lot.”
After 15 innings the Broncs (29-28) scored their first run of the Regional in the seventh inning on an RBI double by freshman Mason Heyne (Shrewsbury, Pa./Susquehannock). It was Heyne’s team-high 18th double of the season.
Freshman Steve Galella (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./G.A.R. Memorial) led off the seventh inning with a single, junior Sean Olson (Vineland, N.J./St. Augustine Prep) followed with a single and Galella scored on Heyne’s double. Olson scored on a sacrifice fly by junior Maurice Williams (Ocean, N.J./Monmouth Regional) to cut the lead to 4-2.
In the bottom of the eighth inning Virginia (39-22) scored four unearned runs on three hits and three Rider errors for the final score.
The first two Virginia batters in the eighth reached base on errors before junior James Hayes (Sunrise, Fla./Piper) moved from right field to pitch. A bunt single loaded the bases before another error on a sacrifice fly made it 5-2.
Junior Jimmer Kennedy (Levittown, Pa./Holy Ghost Prep) pitched five and two-thirds innings, threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes, and left the game trailing 4-0. Kennedy entered the game 10th in the nation in least walks allowed per nine innings (9 in 78 innings) but walked a season-high four and hit one batter, while striking out three. Kennedy walked just three in his last 50 innings before Saturday.
Kennedy finished the season with a 7-5 record. His career record of 17-15 is 15th best ever at Rider.
In the fourth inning Virginia scored three runs on four hits, including a pair of doubles, to take a 4-0 lead.
Virginia got on the board in the bottom of the third inning with a hit batsman, a bunt single, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly.
Rider senior Jon Leise (Woodbury, N.J./West Deptford) singled to lead off the eighth inning, his 103rd career hit. Liese made an outstanding catch on the warning track in centerfield with two runners on and two out in the third inning, keeping the score at 1-0.
Rider freshman relief pitcher Mike Thomas (Forest Hill, Md./Fallston) struck out the first three batters he faced. Thomas pitched one and one-third innings, allowing two unearned runs.
Sophomore Matt McCollum (Tabernacle, N.J./Shawnee) collected Rider’s first hit of the game, with two outs in the third inning, and J. Hayes followed with his third hit of the Regional and 80th of the season. Hayes now has 203 career hits, fourth most ever at Rider.
The game was played in front of 1400 fans at Goodwin Field, including 65 from Rider.