Late Inning Heroics Catapult Saints to Series Win
April 14, 2003
Matt Mueller belted a three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning propelling Siena (7-22/6-5 MAAC) to a crucial MAAC victory over Rider University (9-13/5-7 MAAC) at Siena Field Monday afternoon. The victory gave the Saints a 2-1 series victory following a doubleheader split yesterday.
Mueller's momentous blast to leftfield came on a 0-1 offering from reliever Joe Ambler who had intentionally walked Siena's Blake Hanan to face the senior backstop. Junior Kevin Roberts began the threat with a sharp single off Ambler's leg, and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Chris Del Vecchio. The Broncs appeared on the verge of getting out of the inning when Ambler got Matt Gidaly to fly out to centerfield after falling behind in the count, 3-1. Mueller, however, avenged a seventh inning plate appearance in which he grounded out, stranding Hanan at second base.
Siena's Dale Szachewicz picked up his first victory of the season in relief of starter Josh Copskey. The 6-6 southpaw tossed three and a third innings of shutout baseball, allowing just two Rider players to reach base.
Both teams struck in their initial at bats, as Rider's first two batters lashed sharp singles to initiate the scoring. Johnathan Rehm came around to score the game's first run on a Carl Loadenthal groundout. Siena retaliated with a pair of unearned runs in their first go-around, as Hanan scored on an arrant pickoff attempt, and classmate Tony Cipolla touched the plate following a throwing error on Rider's catcher.
After taking the next two innings off, both teams again scored in the fourth frame. Casey Long, who finished the afternoon with two hits, doubled to start the top of the fourth, and came around to score on a Copskey wild pitch. Siena again doubled Rider's output in their next at bat, first scoring on Shawn Hampton's groundout and later on Kevin Roberts' sacrifice fly. Freshman Brian Schmotzer, batting in the cleanup hole for the first time this season, started the inning with one of his two hits-a double to right centerfield.
After Siena failed to add to its advantage in the bottom of the fifth inning when batter interference was called on Cipolla following a one-out strikeout with runners on the corners, Rider rallied for two runs to tie the game in the sixth. Loadenthal began the inning with a double, and quickly traded places with classmate Casey Long who followed with a double of his own down the left field line to close the gap to a single tally. Long scored the equalizer on Erinn Pesaresi's sacrifice fly, which followed a well-executed sacrifice bunt by Sean Whalen.
Sczachewicz dueled with Rider's A.J. Battisto in three successive innings of scoreless relief preceding the decisive ninth inning.
The victory moves Siena into a three-way tie for fourth place in the MAAC standings, dropping Rider into sole possession of seventh place in the early going. The Saints travel to Vermont and Binghamton on Tuesday and Wednesday before making the cross-state trip to Niagara Falls to do battle with the Purple Eagles in another crucial conference set Friday and Saturday.