Rider Hands Siena Nine Heartbreaking Setback
April 10, 2005
Rider reliever Will O'Connor loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, but then promptly set down the next two batters he faced leaving the potential tying run 90 feet from home plate as the Broncs held off stubborn Siena 9-8 in Loudonville Sunday to salvage the final game of a three-game MAAC set. The Saints rallied from an 8-1 deficit to tie the game on Eric Hildenbrand's eighth inning homerun, but the comeback ultimately fell short.
Rider took advantage of Siena starter Ken Grant's wildness to jump out to an early lead in the top of the first. The Broncs scored twice as Grant hit two batters and balked following a leadoff single by Mike Poalise. Jon Rehm's sacrifice fly scored the game's first run and Gene Crimoli's single through the left side of the infield plated the second.
The Broncs added single runs in the second and third to push the lead to 4-0 as the Saints defense faltered. In the second Bryan Wagner reached on Lou Gattozzi's throwing error and scored on Poalise's second hit of the game. In the third, Rehm reached to leadoff the inning on the first of three errors in the inning charged to shortstop Chris Klepps. He scored on Jon Liese's line drive to left field.
Siena finally broke through for a single run in the fourth inning. Gabe Perez doubled to deep centerfield with one out, and Jake Willis reached on an infield single to put runners at the corners. Steve Ballas lined out to left to plate the home team's first run of the game.
It appeared Rider had broken the game open in the sixth, as they struck for four runs off reliever Trevor Reid. Wagner, Tom Letizia and Rehm all had run scoring hits in the inning, and Gene Crimoli's sacrifice fly made the score 8-1.
Scott King started the Siena rally with a one out triple down the right field line in the bottom of the sixth. Perez followed with an RBI safety, and he scored on Willis' double to centerfield. Ballas and Willis then traded places as the former ripped a run scoring double over the third base bag to make the score 8-4. Willis, a freshman from East Lyme, Conn., finished the game 3-for-4 and batted .667 (6-for-9) in the three-game set to raise his team-leading average to an eye popping .393. The Saints clawed closer with a pair of runs in the seventh. Lou Gattozzi's double down the left field line delivered the first, and King's one out grounder to second made the score 8-6.
In the meantime, Reid settled down on the mound, retiring the side in order in the seventh and eight.
In the bottom of the eighth, Ballas walked to leadoff the inning, setting the stage for Hildenbrand's heroics. The junior catcher launched a 0-1 pitch deep over the left field wall to complete the comeback and tie the game at 8-8. Reliever Justin Roszkowsi then settled down on the hill for Rider, retiring the next three batters in order.
The Broncs scored the game-winning run in the top of the ninth on a one out sacrifice fly by Liese. Rehm had singled to start the inning, and advanced to third on a one out single by Jordan McCreedy.
Siena then staged one final threat in its final at bat. King drove a one-out single through the left side of the infield following a hard luck at bat by Gattozzi that ended with a sharp liner to short. O'Connor then relieved Roszkowski, and Perez greeted him with a hit and run single off the glove of a diving Letizia at third base. The pair then advanced a base with some heads up base running, as King got a great jump on a ball in the dirt that barely skipped away from Knazek behind the dish. O'Connor then intentionally walked Willis and struck out Ballas with a 1-2 slider. Hildenbrand popped up to third base to end the game.
Siena returns to action at Vermont on Tuesday.